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Philippine vice president quits Cabinet in tiff with Duterte

By
Allen Cone
Leni Robredo takes her oath as the vice president of the Philippines in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, on June 30. She announced her resignation as chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council on Monday. Robredo, 52, was the wife of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a small plane crash in 2012. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency.
Leni Robredo takes her oath as the vice president of the Philippines in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, on June 30. She announced her resignation as chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council on Monday. Robredo, 52, was the wife of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a small plane crash in 2012. Photo by Mark R. Cristino/European Pressphoto Agency.

MANILA, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo announced her resignation as chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council on Monday, saying it was the last "straw because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties."

President Rodrigo Duterte accepted her resignation.

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"It is with a heavy heart that I accept the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo," Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, quoted the president as saying in a text message.

Robredo, 52, said she had received a text message Saturday from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco relaying Duterte's order to stop attending all Cabinet meetings starting Monday. Duterte appointed her to the post in July.

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"This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties. Hence, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016," Robredo said in her resignation letter. "With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people's interest."

Robredo, a human rights lawyer, was elected vice president separately from Duterte in May. She defeated Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the son of the former leader. Robredo was as a member of the Liberal Party and Duterte with the PDP–Laban, the left-wing populist party.

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Robredo had numerous differences with Duterte, In recent weeks, she disagreed with his decision to allow the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. She also opposes his reinstatement of the death penalty.

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But she said she initially decided to serve, "given our shared commitment to the poor and marginalized," Robredo wrote in the letter.

"We had hoped this day would not come," she said in a statement. "I had been warned of a plot to steal the vice presidency. I have chosen to ignore this and focus on the job at hand. But the events of recent days indicate that this plot is now being set into motion," Robredo said.

"I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted. I will continue to serve the Filipino family and fulfill their dream for a better life," Robredo concluded.

In an address to the nation, she said, "This is not the time for fear. It is a time for conviction. It is a time for courage.

"As your duly elected vice president, I will continue to serve with all my strength and passion, confident that in the end, what is right will prevail.

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House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in a text message to media said: "Considering the situation I think she is fired."

In a statement, Sen. Bam Aquino said he fully supports Robredo's move to leave the Cabinet.

"How can she effectively serve in a Cabinet where she is treated poorly, unsupported and even disrespected?" Aquino said. "How can she serve in a Cabinet that bars her from attending regular meetings. Now, more than ever, she needs our support to fulfill her mission of uplifting the lives of our countrymen in the fringes of our society."

Sen. Risa Hontiveros called Duterte's relationship with her "abusive and toxic" and "as if by design, she was intended to fail."

Last Tuesday, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairwoman Maria Serena Diokno resigned from her post in protest of the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

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