Robredo on 'confusing' remarks of Duterte, Panelo: 'Ano ba talaga?'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo urged President Rodrigo Duterte and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo to end the "practice" of having "contradicting" remarks that "confuse" Filipinos, especially when addressing important policy questions.

Robredo noted that some of the President's statements and Panelo's interpretations of those statements do not match. For instance, the Vice President pointed to Duterte's latest remark regarding joint oil and gas exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said last Tuesday, September 10, that the Philippines is "ignoring" the arbitral ruling – which favored the Philippines – to make way for the joint exploration. Panelo later clarified that the President meant he would "set aside" the topic, but "would not drop" the claim.

On Thursday, September 12, Robredo issued a statement saying Duterte's remark was "profoundly disappointing and extremely irresponsible" and that his position is a "shameful way of abandoning responsibility" for future generations of Filipinos.

Panelo then hit back, saying Robredo should "be more circumspect in issuing statements on the matter" and "rely more on her instinct as a lawyer and mother" in the performance of her duties.

In her weekly radio show on Sunday, September 15, Robredo observed that the "practice" in the Duterte administration shows that the presidential spokesperson is "correcting" or "massaging" the President's statements. 

Talking to her co-host Ely Saludar, Robredo said: "Pero iyong sa akin, Ka Ely, ngayon hinihimas, hinihimas ng presidential spokesperson, na hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin. Pero iyong pinakapunto lang nito, kaya nga tayo nag-statement, kasi obligasyon nating maging maingat sa mga sinasabi. Kung hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin, dapat sana hindi sinabi. 'Di ba?" 

(In my view, Ka Ely, the presidential spokesperson is massaging Duterte's statement, and saying that it's not what the President meant to say. But that's why we put out statements, because it's our obligation to be careful with what we say. If that's not what he meant, it shouldn't have been said, right?)

Robredo added that Duterte and Panelo should discuss first before putting out statements, and that their remarks should be the same.

She then argued that it's the President himself who should be correcting his statements, "because what he says is policy." 

"So iyong pinakatanong lang: Ano ba talaga? Tingin ko hindi lang ako iyong nalilito, pero marami pang ibang tao ang nalilito kung ano ba talaga iyong gustong sabihin. Sasabihin ise-set aside iyong arbitral ruling, sasabihin hindi iyon iyong gustong sabihin. Talagang magdadala iyon ng kalituhan," said Robredo.

(The main question here is: What's the deal, really? I think it's not just me who's confused, but also many others as to what they really mean. First, they say they'll set aside the arbitral ruling, then later, that's not it. It would really bring confusion.)

"Kung sinasabi niyang litong lito tayo, talagang litong lito tayo, kaya tayo bumoboses. Kasi hindi naman puwedeng matapos sa kalituhan dahil sa mga pahayag na hindi nakakabuti sa ating lahat," the Vice President added. 

(If he's saying we're confused, we really are, that's why we're voicing out. This shouldn't end in confusion because of [their] statements that are no good for everyone.) –