By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

(KING RODRIGUEZ/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Tuesday night called out President Rodrigo Duterte for falsely accusing her of being behind the #NasaanAngPangulo hashtag, saying she had never made the remark herself.

Duterte started his Nov. 17 public address with a rant against Robredo, whom he called “dishonest” for allegedly competing with him and claiming he was absent in calamity response efforts in the aftermath of typhoon “Rolly.”

Robredo said she never questioned Duterte’s actions and that the president was misinformed.

“I just called out Secretary (Salvador) 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,” she said on Twitter.

She also said she only did what she felt was her job.

Duterte repeatedly accused Robredo of misleading the public on his absence amid the onslaught of “Ulysses.”

Duterte said he was monitoring the country’s situation as he attended a virtual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

He added that he was a “night person” and that he usually started working from 2 p.m. to past midnight.

“Alam mo, ‘yung pakana [ni Robredo] na wala ako sa bagyo. I was here, dito. I was attending a summit, Asean summit ‘yun, so virtual lang, palit palit kami. We were talking electronic. Nandito ako noon. Kasagsagan ng bagyo, dumaan diyan sa labas, nag-uusap kami dito,” Duterte said.

“Ngayon kung sabihin mo may emergency, natutulog ako sa umaga, hindi ako natulog noon. Gising ako ng umaga because of the summit,” he added.

Duterte also said that state forces were deployed two days ahead of the landfall of “Ulysses.”

“Hindi mo na kailangan orderin ‘yan sila kasi two days before, deployed na yan sila doon po. Nasa bodega na yan sa mga gobyerno. Naka-deploy na ‘yan, pati na nga yung sa Davao, yung security ko kinuha, dinala dito in anticipation. Sunod-sunod kasi,” he said.

“Kaya ako lumipad sa Bicol, inunahan mo pa ako pakunwari. But do not compete with me and do not start a quarrel with me kasi ikaw wala ka talagang ginawa except ‘yung mga tawag-tawag,” Duterte added.

Robredo said calamity relief efforts should not be a political contest.

“Sa panahon ng matinding sakuna, dapat lahat na tulong, welcome. Hindi ito contest. Hindi tayo nag uunahan. Lahat tayo dapat nagtutulong tulong para sa ating mga kababayan,” she said.

Disaster officials have reported 73 deaths due to “Ulysses” as of Tuesday. John Ezekiel J. Hirro