VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo claim on Robredo’s Cabinet resignation needs context

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo’s claim on Vice President Leni Robredo’s exit from President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet in 2016 lacks context.

STATEMENT

In the Nov. 6 episode of his talk show “Counterpoint” produced by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Panelo criticized Robredo for being “unfair” after supposedly “praising” on her Instagram account the response of Catanduanes local officials but not Duterte’s and the national government’s, or even Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s, following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.

At the same time, Panelo said it was “good” that the vice president was still able to visit typhoon-stricken Catanduanes. But the chief presidential legal counsel added:

Kaya lang, sabi niya, 'Sana marami kaming resources para mas lalo akong nakatulong.' Eh ikaw naman, eh kung hindi ka umalis sa Cabinet -- hindi ka naman pinaalis -- ‘di sana mas matindi ang dating, marami kang koneksyon. O ‘di ba? You created your own problem.

(However, she said, ‘I hope we have more resources so I can help more.’ But it’s you, if you did not leave the Cabinet -- you weren’t asked to leave -- then you would have more impact, more connections. See? You created your own problem.)”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, SEC. PANELO SLAMS VP ROBREDO'S LOPSIDED REMARKS ON TYPHOON AFTERMATH, Nov. 6, 2020, watch from 1:44 to 2:08
FACT

While it is true that Robredo resigned from Duterte’s Cabinet in 2016 as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), she did so only after having been disinvited from Cabinet meetings.

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On Dec. 4, 2016, Robredo was asked by then Cabinet secretary Leonico “Jun” Evasco Jr., in a text message, to “desist from attending all Cabinet [meetings]” per instruction of the president.

Duterte, in at least three separate media interviews, said this was because of her alleged participation in “oust-Duterte” rallies, which the vice president categorically denied. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo distorts reason behind order to bar Robredo from Cabinet meetings in 2016).

In her resignation letter addressed to Duterte on Dec. 5, 2016, Robredo said his directive for her to stop attending Cabinet meetings “effectively made it impossible for [her] to do [her] job.” Thus, “remaining in your Cabinet has become untenable,” she added.

A review of the vice president’s posts on her official and personal Instagram accounts from Nov. 1 -- when Super Typhoon Rolly first made landfall -- to Nov. 6 showed no posts praising Catanduanes local officials for their relief efforts.

In a Nov. 3 tweet, Robredo shared updates from her visit in Virac and Bato towns in the province. While there was a lot of “devastation,” she said:

“...you can feel the LGUs at work, with most roads cleared and establishments starting to open. Catanduanos have played a big part with their sense of community: bigger and sturdier houses taking in those in smaller ones, looking out for neighbors.”

Source: Leni Robredo official Twitter account, “Amid the damage…,” Nov. 3, 2020

That same day, on her personal Facebook account, the vice president said, “despite the devastation [in Catanduanes]” -- among the “worst-hit” by the super typhoon -- “you can feel the local governments working.

A day prior, Robredo posted a Facebook update about her visit to Camarines Sur, which was also hard-hit by Super Typhoon Rolly, saying:

“It is times like this when you wish you had more resources or more mandate. But then you get to talk to barangay officials, tanods, village leaders. They are the ones taking care of these people on a daily basis. I am sure their frustrations are far greater than ours. And we can never thank them enough for all the work they are doing for our people.”

Source: Leni Gerona Robredo Facebook account, “Some updates before I call it a day…,” Nov. 2, 2020

In its latest report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said a total of 522,600 families or around two million people were affected by the typhoon, which ravaged Regions II, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the National Capital Region.

In the same report, the council recorded about 170,773 houses and P5-billion-worth of agricultural crops, livestock, fisheries, and agricultural facilities have been damaged across the affected regions.


Sources

RTVMalacañang, Counterpoint with Secretary Salvador Panelo 11/6/2020, Nov. 6, 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office Official Facebook Page, SEC. PANELO SLAMS VP ROBREDO'S LOPSIDED REMARKS ON TYPHOON AFTERMATH, Nov. 6, 2020

Office of the Vice President of the Philippines, Statement of Vice President Leni Robredo on her Resignation as HUDCC Chair, Dec. 4, 2016

Presidential Communications Operations Office, PRRD names VP Robredo Housing Secretary, July 7, 2016

Office of the Vice President of the Philippines, Statement of VP Leni Robredo on her appointment as Chairperson of HUDCC, July 7, 2016

Vice President Leni Robredo official Facebook page, Criticism is not conspiracy…, Dec. 30, 2016

Vice President Leni Robredo official Facebook page, Vice President Leni Robredo’s resignation letter, Dec. 5, 2016

Instagram, Vice President Leni Robredo’s Official Instagram Account, Accessed Nov. 19, 2020

Instagram, Leni Robredo’s Personal Instagram account, Accessed Nov. 19, 2020

Facebook, VP Leni Robredo, Accessed Nov. 19, 2020

Facebook, Leni Gerona Robredo, Accessed Nov. 19, 2020

Twitter, Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo), Accessed Nov. 20, 2020

Leni Gerona Robredo Facebook account, Some updates before I call it a day, Nov. 2, 2020

Leni Gerona Robredo Facebook account, Visited Catanduanes this morning, Nov. 3, 2020

Relief Web of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Philippines: Super Typhoon Goni (Rolly) and Typhoon Vamco (Ulysses) - Flash Update No. 4 (as of 12 November 2020, 11 p.m. local time), Nov. 12, 2020

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Situation Report No. 12 for Super Typhoon Rolly, Nov. 11, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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