By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA –Detained Sen. Leila de Lima warned on September 2, about what she claimed as President Rodrigo Duterte’s “malevolent plot” to oust Vice-president Leni Robredo to allow former Sen. Bongbong Marcos to succeed him should he step down before his term ends in 2022.

De Lima claimed Duterte is “demolishing” Robredo’s image to make it “easier for him to sell Marcos’ hovering fraudulent victory at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to the people.”

She also claimed Duterte would be “appointing” more justices to the Supreme Court “who will likely vote in crucial cases favoring the administration.”

In a report by The Philippine Star, De Lima noted that the only viable option, with the campaign shift to federalism dead in Congress and the idea of a military junta unappealing to the Armed Forces, Duterte will make sure that Marcos is in position to succeed as vice-president when he decides to step down.

“Duterte has several ideas how he will be replaced in case he decides to step down before his term ends. He has expressed his preference for Bongbong Marcos, Chiz Escudero, a military junta (but) none of them include the constitutional mode of succession, which is the only legal way of replacing him,” De Lima said in statement from detention.

“As the math of co-opted Supreme Court votes improves to favor a fake Marcos victory, so will the Marcos-Robredo PET case unravel to its malevolent conclusion,” De Lima continued.
De Lima also warned of Duterte’s political machinery, urging the Filipino people to use vigilance and resistance as weapons against a Duterte-sponsored Marcos comeback.

“After the Supreme Court has demonstrated its capability to perform the unconstitutional ouster of its own chief justice, it can no longer be relied upon to stand as the guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law,” De Lima noted.

This statement follows the Supreme Court’s earlier affirmation of the removal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was ousted through a quo warranto petition in June.
Recently, Duterte appointed Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro as Sereno’s replacement.

‘Duterte prefers everyone over Robredo but is not planning to oust her’
Malacañang clarified that the President prefers everyone to be his successor but is not plotting to oust VP Robredo.

“He’s not in a position to interfere; also, he’s having more and more appointees, a majority are still not his appointees,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, reinforcing Duterte’s preference for the likes of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos rather than having Robredo succeed him.

“He prefers everyone over Robredo. That’s the truth. Unfortunately, Marcos is the only one with the pending (protest)…,” Roque added.

Roque also accused De Lima of “Prison hallucination. (The) fate of the vice-president is with the Supreme Court and not the President.” Roque also insisted that the Supreme Court, not the President, would decide on the pending poll protest involving VP Robredo and Marcos.

“How can we unseat that, that’s pending in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, the Supreme Court, not the President. So, it shows also that she’s not fully aware of our constitutional system. Surprising because she became secretary of justice,” Roque said.

Roque also maintained that the President would not meddle in the electoral protest on the results of the 2016 vice-presidential elections.

Roque also dismissed Robredo’s calls for the President to focus on the economy instead of attacking her.

“The President is capable of focusing on these things together with focusing on her. No, he’s capable of multi-tasking, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t think she’s qualified because in her world view, hindi pupuwedeng multi-tasking,” Roque said.

Roque also disputed Robredo’s claim on “recycled rants” by President Duterte.

“It’s not a recycled rant, it’s always been his views… with all due respect to her. It can’t be recycled because his views never change,” Roque said.

When asked why Duterte appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as officer-in-charge of the government instead of Robredo, Roque said the President appoints only the person he trusts for the post while he is away.