President says sorry to Robredo
BAGUIO CITY — With all eyes on his first public meeting with Vice President Leni Robredo since her resignation as housing secretary in December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte apologized after failing to initially greet her in his speech at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Mr. Duterte acknowledged the presence of top officials at the PMA graduation at the start of his message, but he did not mention Robredo.
He had already read several paragraphs of his speech when his aide went up to him to inform him of the oversight.
“I apologize, Ma’am. It was not done intentionally. The one who wrote this did not include you. Let’s beat up [the writer],” Mr. Duterte said about a third into his 11-minute address.
His remark drew laughter and applause from the audience.
“I would like to apologize and acknowledge the presence of this beautiful lady, the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines. Sorry, Ma’am,” he said.
The President and the Vice President were not seated beside each other at the PMA graduation, contrary to the usual practice.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sat between them.
Mr. Duterte greeted Robredo upon his arrival on the PMA stage, shaking her hand.
Robredo and Mr. Duterte’s first meeting since her resignation took place in January at the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council in Malacañang.
The two had been “civil” during that meeting.
The Vice President resigned after she was barred from attending Cabinet meetings.
Mr. Duterte later said he stopped her from joining the meetings because of her attendance in rallies against him, which she denied.
Robredo came in a purple dress that covered her knees.
Following tradition, she presented the Vice Presidential Saber to the No. 2 student of the Salaknib Class, Philip Viscaya.
Viscaya and Cadet First Class Carlo Canlas were the only two men who made it to the Top 10 of their class.
Viscaya will join the Army while Canlas, the Air Force.
Robredo also met with Salaknib’s Top 10 graduates before the ceremonies began.
She later visited the barracks of the PMA female cadets, saying she was impressed by how clean and organized their rooms were.