Instead of discussing the government’s response to the pandemic and the recent spate of natural disasters, President Rodrigo Duterte launched a tirade last night against Vice President Leni Robredo for allegedly creating the viral #NasaanAngPangulo (“Where is the president?”) hashtag.
The hashtag flooded Twitter on the day that typhoons Goni and Vamco hit because critics noticed that the president was absent during those tragedies. Duterte said that when Vamco arrived, he was busy attending the virtual 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. The president alleged that Robredo, for asking about his whereabouts, “practically lied, making her incapable of truth.”
“The storm was all over Luzon. Where do you want me to go? There, in Bicol? In your house? In Naga? Or maybe I should have gone to Parañaque because there was a flood there. So where were you? I didn’t [have to be around] to order my people on that day,” the chief executive said in English and Filipino.
“You were assuming I should be giving orders on the day of the storm. That is stupid. That’s why you cannot be president, really. You’re stupid. You cannot give orders because the orders are given two or three days [before the typhoon arrives]. You do not give orders on the day of the war,” a seething Duterte added.
Since the start of the pandemic and the typhoons’ arrival, Robredo has been active on social media, posting updates and photos that showed her helping victims and medical workers. Duterte appeared displeased over this, despite saying last week that he couldn’t visit victims because his aides wanted to protect him and that Robredo could do that duty instead.
“Do not compete with me, and do not start a quarrel with me. You haven’t done anything except call people up,” he alleged.
“Next time, do not make a mistake, or I’ll be forced to insult you because you are playing too much. You’re trying to make yourself look good. It’s not the time for you,” he added.
The president then vowed that he would do everything to ensure that Robredo does not become president if she chooses to run in the 2022 elections.
“I have long wanted to say a lot of things to you. I’m reserving them. When you start your campaign, when you run for president, I will ensure you will get swept away. This is your nightmare. You were lying. You knew that I was working. You knew that there was an ASEAN summit,” the temperamental leader said.
On the night that Duterte’s pre-recorded speech was aired, Robredo appeared unfazed from the insults and tweeted a video of an unspecified location that appears to be filled with relief goods.
When a President is a mysoginist, the conversation goes down to this level. Eto po yung ginagawa namin gabi gabi, nagpupuyat ilang linggo na para, araw-araw, may madala lang na tulong sa mga nangangailangan. https://t.co/J6MJ7yEl6U pic.twitter.com/lrtkpPKI4C
— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) November 17, 2020
“When a President is a misogynist, the conversation goes down to this level. This is what we do every night, every day, so [that] we could help those in need,” she tweeted.
She also denied that she asked about Duterte’s whereabouts during the height of Vamco, writing, “I am also calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President, which is why he is this annoyed. I never said ‘Where is the President’? You can review all my tweets.”
I just called out Sec Panelo for peddling fake news. I am also calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President, kaya ganito siya ka pikon. I never said “Where is the President”? You can review all my tweets.
— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) November 17, 2020
Meanwhile, the hashtags #DuterteMeltdown and #NasiraanAngPangulo (“The president is going crazy”) are trending right now on Twitterverse, with many calling out the president for spewing what appeared to be baseless accusations against Robredo. A person named @gelicaffeinated shared a meme which said, “It’s always the incompetent ones that get riled up.”
— gelica⁷ ☕️ (@gelicaffeinated) November 17, 2020
Known Robredo supporter and singer Leah Navarro wrote, “It hurts when someone else’s good work exposes your frailty. The #DuterteMeltdown is his way of trying to hide his lack of leadership and cover up his incompetence.”
It hurts when someone else’s good work exposes your frailty. The #DuterteMeltdown is his way of trying to hide his lack of leadership and cover up his incompetence.
— Leah Navarro (@leahnavarro) November 18, 2020
User @antonyodaport tweeted, “Got no legs because I can’t stand Duterte’s misogyny and idiocy.”
— (@antonyodaport) November 17, 2020
So, what do you think of Duterte’s latest rant? Justified or not? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.
Update: This article has been edited to add one of Robredo’s tweets.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.