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Fact-checking Duterte’s claims in his address last night

By Tanya Lara Published Nov 17, 2020 11:24 pm

President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the nation last night, devoting the first 20 minutes of his speech on Vice President Leni Robredo. Duterte at turns made threats and insinuations, and defended himself for being out of the public eye in the second of two typhoons that hit the country in the past three weeks.

Parts of the country are reeling from the devastation brought by Typhoons Ulysses and Rolly in the first half of of the month, and as relief efforts are ongoing by the government and private sector, the President warned Robredo, “Do not compete with me.”

The Office of the Vice President has been doing relief efforts in the aftermath of both typhoons, the first devastating Bicol and the second Cagayan Valley and parts of NCR. These efforts are updated on her social media pages, earning her both praise and criticism.

From the President’s address last night:

DUTERTE: President Duterte accused Vice President Robredo of “looking” for him during the typhoon as #NasaanAngPangulo trended during both typhoons. “She made a blunder, a big one, and she practically lied, making her incapable of truth…Hindi maniniwala military sayo.” Duterte said he was at the ASEAN Summit virtual conference. “Hindi ako natutulog.”

President Rodrigo Duterte

FACT: The ASEAN Virtual Summit was held on Nov. 12 to 15. Typhoon Rolly made landfall on Nov. 1; Typhoon Ulysses on Nov. 12. The President was not visible nor did he address the nation on the government’s preparedness before or during the typhoons.

The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo began trending when Typhoon Rolly hit on Sunday, Nov. 1 and continued until the second typhoon hit the country.

Malacañang Palace said on Nov. 1 that the President was in Davao from where he would monitor the situation, and would be back in Manila on Tuesday, after Rolly had left the Pilippine Area of Responsibility.

ANSWER: Vice President Leni Robredo replied that she has never said, “Where is the President?” on Twitter. “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.” (Watch video of Robredo expounding on her tweet here.)

DUTERTE: The president accused Robredo of propagating the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo.

FACT: This hashtag is an old one. It wasn’t started by Robredo or during Duterte’s term. It first trended on Twitter in January 2015, when President Noynoy Aquino chose to skip ceremonies for the return of the remains of 42 military soldiers who were killed during a clash with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Aquino attended the inauguration of a car plant in Laguna instead of going to Villamor Airbase, and was heavily criticized for it.

Vice President Leni Robredo

DUTERTE: Still on Robredo, Duterte said, What time do you go home? Nung gabi, anong oras ka umuwi? Isang bahay ka lang ba, dalawang bahay ka? Kay congressman ka? Kaninong bahay ka natagalan?”

FACT: Robredo is single, she’s a widow.

ANSWER: Robredo tweeted, “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.”

DUTERTE: Appearing angry over Robredo’s typhoon relief efforts, which are extensively shared on social media, Duterte said, “When you start your campaign kapag magtakbo ka ng president, waswasan kita ng husto. This is your nightmare.

FACT: The presidential election is in 2022; the typhoons are happening now.

DUTERTE: “Iyong mga eskwelahan, UP? Fine. Maghinto kayo ng aral. I will stop the funding. Wala na ginawa itong ano kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan.”

FACT: The president cannot just defund UP because as a chartered national university, the UP System’s budget is approved by Congress in the General Appropriations Act.

And yes, UP has produced communists. It has also produced presidents of the Philippines, capitalists, Cabinet members, doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, hoteliers, scientists, journalists, statisticians, etc.

UP was red-tagged by AFP Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. in 2018 as one of 18 Metro Manila universities that were breeding grounds for communists. His list, presumably put together by the military’s counter-insurgency intelligence (with the AFP budget of 195 billion), included a non-existent university.

ANSWER: Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview with Pinky Web on CNN Philippines, “I think he somehow confused the proponents of this academic strike. I explained it was the Ateneo students advocating for the strike, but someone in the meeting said UP also called for a strike.”