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Leni denies Duterte ouster plot: Criticism is not conspiracy
In this Dec. 5, 2016 file photo, Vice President Leni Robredo answers questions from the media during a news conference following her resignation from her cabinet post under President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 in Quezon City, Philippines. AP/File
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday advised the Duterte administration not to see plots to oust the president in criticisms on his statements and policies.
In a statement, Robredo denied being involved in alleged plots to boot out President Rodrigo Duterte from office, saying "criticism is not conspiracy."
"The administration is well-advised to stop seeing 'plots' behind every unflattering news report, irate citizens' assembly, or angry Facebook post," Robredo said.
Her statement came a day after Duterte accused her on national television of joining rallies calling for his ouster, saying this is a reason for his decision to exclude her from his Cabinet.
"I am not aware of, much less am I involved in, any effort to 'oust' the President," Robredo said.
Expressions of opinion, Robredo noted, is a right of every citizen in a democracy. "And this includes those critical of or in opposition to an incumbent government," she said.
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"This principle is a cornerstone of our free Republic," Robredo added.
The vice president said criticisms were not a plot against the president but were a reaction to the burial of long-dead dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, "ongoing" extrajudicial killings, the proposed restoration of death penalty and the "retreat" from the country's claims over the West Philippine Sea.
Robredo has been the subject of allegations by Duterte's supporters on social media of leading a conspiracy with the Liberal Party. Robredo stepped down from the housing body as part of Duterte's Cabinet in early December after she received a text message asking her to cease attending Malacañang meetings.
The Palace said the exclusion of Robredo, who has been vocal against Marcos' burial, from the Cabinet was due to her "irreconcilable differences" with the president.