When Rody meets Leni for first time
Finally, almost two months after President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo were elected into office, the two officials met for the first time in a warm encounter that betrayed none of the rumored distance between them.
Duterte and Robredo met Friday during the change of command ceremony at the AFP grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, and shook hands as soon as they saw each other.
“It was OK, very cordial. I told him if I could set a courtesy visit as soon as possible and he said, anytime,” Robredo said, adding that her staff would make arrangements for one as soon as she gets back to her office.
The Vice President had been trying to snag a meeting with Duterte since they were proclaimed winners in the May 9 election, but his staff cited “conflicting schedules” for the much-delayed meetup.
The delay had led to speculations that the President was distancing himself from Robredo in light of his earlier statement about not giving her a Cabinet post because he did not want to hurt the feelings of former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, her closest rival in the tightly contested VP race.
Robredo led Marcos by a slim 200,000 margin.
The rumor about Duterte sidelining Robredo was fanned by the two officials’ separate inauguration on June 30, with the President taking his oath of office at Rizal Hall in Malacañang, while the Vice President took it at her new office at the Executive House in New Manila, Quezon City.
Duterte’s spokespersons said the inauguration venue was too small to accommodate Robredo’s own share of guests.
But the meetup on Friday showed only warm interaction between the two, with the new Commander in Chief acknowledging the presence of his Vice President before his speech.
Duterte said he had wanted to sit beside Robredo, but that former acting AFP chief of staff Gen. Glorioso Miranda was seated between them, as protocol dictated.
No date yet
The President was later seen offering his Vice President his coconut juice drink, which she smilingly declined.
Earlier Friday, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) issued a statement clarifying reports that had quoted the Vice President as saying that Mr. Duterte was “playing hard to get,” referring to the Inquirer headline on June 28.
“VP Leni did not say that,” the statement said.
Robredo was quoted as saying that her office had been trying to get an appointment with the President but that they had not found a date yet. But she was not losing hope that she would finally meet with the President, the statement added.
The OVP said that Robredo was “open to go to the President, to talk with him, consult, and listen to his (policy) directions for the country.”
“The Vice President wholeheartedly supports our President,” the statement said.
Marcoses among guests
Although Robredo was not at President Duterte’s inauguration, Marcos and his sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, were seen among the guests.
It was the first time that the children of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, had set foot in Malacañang after they were chased into exile by the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Duterte yesterday installed Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya as the new AFP chief of staff, who will serve until he retires from the military service when he turns 56 in December, the mandatory retirement age in the uniformed service.
Miranda returns to his position as vice chief of staff.
Former President Benigno Aquino III appointed Miranda military chief in an acting capacity after then AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri retired in April, and an election appointments ban was in effect. TVJ
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