Leni Robredo Philippine vice-president says plot to oust her

In the Philippines the president and vice-president are elected separately. Duterte and Robredo come from rival parties.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (right) poses for photographs with Vice-President Leni Robredo in Manila on July 1, 2016 play

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (right) poses for photographs with Vice-President Leni Robredo in Manila on July 1, 2016

(AFP/File)
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Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo announced Sunday she would quit President Rodrigo Duterte's cabinet after being told to stay away from its meetings, and said there was a plot to oust her as his deputy.

Robredo did not say who was behind the alleged plot to remove her as vice-president.

But she cited "major differences in principles and values" with Duterte, such as over the rash of extrajudicial killings during his "war on drugs" and the hero's burial he granted for dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In the Philippines the president and vice-president are elected separately. Duterte and Robredo come from rival parties.

"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 in motion," Robredo said in a statement on her Facebook page.

"I will not allow the Vice-Presidency to be stolen. I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted," despite leaving the cabinet, " she said.

"We received a text (SMS) message last Saturday from Cabinet Secretary (Leoncio) Evasco, relaying the President?s instruction... for me 'to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting this Monday, December 5'."

"This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties," Robredo said.

She had been appointed to the cabinet as a housing official.

Foreign criticism

Duterte's war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives and sparked international criticism, including from key ally the United States and the UN.

He has struck back by calling US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" and UN chief Ban Ki-moon a "fool".

Duterte's spokesman Martin Andanar, interviewed on ABS-CBN television on Sunday, confirmed Robredo's departure from the cabinet and cited "irreconcilable differences".

Regarding the alleged plot to unseat her from the vice-presidency, Andanar said: "If there is a plot, that plot did not come from the camp of the president."

"Tomorrow, let us see if the president actually accepts her resignation (from the cabinet)," he added.

Evasco confirmed separately that he had sent Robredo a message, telling her not to attend further cabinet meetings on the instructions of Duterte.

He said there was no order to strip Robredo of her housing position.

Duterte won presidential elections in May after pledging to kill tens of thousands of drug suspects, warning that otherwise the Philippines would turn into a narco-state.

Since he assumed office, some 4,800 people have been killed by police or unidentified attackers.

Other differences cited by Robredo were the government's moves to bring back the death penalty, to lower the age of criminal liability to nine and "sexual attacks against women".

She did not specify which attacks but Duterte and his supporters have often used accusations of sexual misbehaviour and other insults against female critics.

In the May elections for the vice-presidency, Robredo, 51, narrowly defeated Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, the son and namesake of the dictator who died in exile in 1989.

However Marcos Jnr, a key ally of Duterte, has a pending election protest which argues he was the real winner.

Robredo, originally a lawyer for the disadvantaged, rose to fame as the wife of respected cabinet member Jesse Robredo.

When her husband died in a plane crash in 2012, public clamour encouraged her to enter politics.

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