By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
MALACAÑANG ON Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte may step down once former senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. wins in his electoral protest against incumbent Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo.
“If he (Mr. Marcos) becomes vice-president, perhaps the President will make true his word that he will step down. Because what he is worried about is that if we were to use constitutional succession, then the successor may not be qualified,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, Aug. 16.
He added: “And then he expressed a preference on who he thinks will be qualified. So, if he (Mr. Marcos) wins,…I think he has said it before. He has said it before that if he wins the protest and he’s declared as vice-president, he is willing to step down.”
The spokesman also said Mr. Duterte’s pronouncement was “a real statement of exasperation and a genuine wish to step down if there’s a better leader or if there’s a qualified leader to take over.”
Mr. Roque said the President “thinks” the former senator, the only son of ousted dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, “is one of the better qualified leaders to succeed him.”
“That’s a conclusion that you can make because he says that he is willing to step down except that he does not think that the constitutional successor is qualified. And he has expressed some preference. Siguro kung ang (Perhaps, if the) successor is either A or B, then he will step down. So, you can conclude that if we have a different vice-president and it is B, then he might consider stepping down. But for as long as A nor B is not vice-president, then he will not step down. That’s classic Philosophy 11,” Mr. Roque said further.
In a statement, Ms. Robredo’s lead counsel Romulo B. Macalintal said: “President Duterte’s resignation will never happen because Mr. Marcos will never win his electoral protest.”
For her part, Ms. Robredo said in an interview with reporters in her hometown of Naga City: “[A]yaw kong mag-react. Ayaw kong patulan iyong ganiyang mga statements kasi hindi naman iyan nakakatulong.” (I don’t want to react. I don’t want to give attention to those statements, because they don’t serve anything).
She added: “Ang daming problema ng bansa. Asikasuhin na lang iyong problema ng bansa kaysa pulitika parati. Kasi kaming dalawa hinalal until 2022. Obligasyon namin pareho na gawin iyong lahat naming makakaya para sa bayan, kasi iyon iyong mandato sa amin. Kaysa mag-aksaya ng panahon nang hindi naman totoo iyong mga sinasabi, magtrabaho na lang kami pareho.” (The country has a lot of problems. Let’s just attend to those problems instead of politics always. Because we were both elected by the people until 2022. It’s our obligation to do the most we can for the country because that’s our mandate. Rather than waste our time on false statements, both of us should just work).
Mr. Roque also said Mr. Duterte has information on Naga City as being a “hotbed of shabu.”
“Well, I’m sure he has access to information indicating certain areas to be hotbeds of shabu. And he must have seen in the report that Naga is one of them,” the spokesman said.
He added: “In any case, I don’t think it’s something that the President would say from thin air because he has access to all information that even you and I don’t have access to.”
Ms. Robredo refused to comment on the President’s claim.