Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo actually considers Vice President Leni Robredo a friend despite trading sharp criticisms with his townmate.
Appearing on his “Counterpoint” program Sunday, Panelo explained that there is “nothing personal” whenever he shoots down the supposed baseless criticisms raised by Robredo against the government. Both officials hail from Naga, Camarines Sur.
“Hindi naman sa ayaw ko kay Robredo… Ako, gusto ko si Robredo (It’s not that I don’t like Robredo… I actually like Robredo),” Panelo said.
The Palace official however has one beef with Robredo. He dislikes Robredo’s alleged unfair snide comments about the government.
“Ang ayaw ko lang ‘yung kanyang mga istilo na pupulaan mo o kaya magbibigay ka ng suggestion na parang pinalalabas mo na walang ginagawa ang gobyerno (What I don’t like is her style of criticizing or giving suggestions that make it appear the government is doing nothing),” he said.
Panelo admitted that his friendship with Robredo remains despite belonging to different political camps. “Pero bilang kaibigan, okay sa akin. Kapag nagkikita kami, talagang magkababayan pero iba naman, walang personalan (But as friends, I’m okay with that. When we see each other, we regard each other as fellow townmates. There is nothing personal),” he said.
Robredo’s recent criticisms about the government’s pandemic response, particularly the delay in the arrival of coronavirus vaccines, did not sit well with the Palace official.
According to Panelo, Robredo just wanted to be “politically relevant” when she tried to blame the government for the late vaccine arrival. He said Robredo, being the leader of the opposition, continues to hurl criticisms against the government even without basis.
“Dahil nga nakaatang sa iyo ‘yung torch ng opposition, ikaw kahit hindi na nag-iisip, kahit napadalos-dalos, bira ka agad nang bira (Because you carry the torch of the opposition, you quickly criticize even without thinking),” eh said.
He said even President Duterte has already expressed doubts about the competence of Robredo if she decides to run for president.”Tinimbang ka, lumabas kulang (You have been weighed and you have been found wanting),” he said.
Panelo also told Robredo that government was not to blame for the late arrival of the vaccines. The drug manufacturers, he said, wanted an indemnity deal before delivering the supplies as protection against any lawsuit if a person suffers complications from the COVID-19 vaccines.
On Robredo’s claim that some administration officials were ganging up on her, Panelo said in jest that they are merely trying to boost her rating.
Panelo meantime has renewed his appeal to government critics to help convince more Filipinos to take the coronavirus vaccines after recent surveys showed reluctance to take the preventive drug.
Robredo has recently drawn the ire of the President after she likened to extortion his demand to the United States to pay in exchange for keeping the presence of American troops in the country.
In defending his position on the visiting forces agreement (VFA), the President, in a televised address last Monday, Feb. 15, reminded Robredo that foreign policy was “vested in the president alone,” not with the vice president and the senators.
Duterte, who will end his six-year term next year, also said Robredo was not qualified to run for president since she supposed does not her role in government. He also advised Robredo to take a refresher course in law if she decides to run for president.