Robredo recounts events leading to Duterte’s ‘change of heart’
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Friday said she was not surprised with her appointment by President Rodrigo Duterte as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
Robredo shared that Duterte first offered her a Cabinet post during their first formal meeting at Malacañang Palace last Monday.
“Hindi na ako nagulat nung tinawagan niya ako kasi (I was no longer surprised when he called me because) when I visited him in Malacañang he already told me, ‘I want you to be a part of my Cabinet,’” Robredo said in a press briefing at her office at the Quezon City Reception House.
But Robredo said she told Duterte that seeking a Cabinet post was not her purpose for paying a courtesy visit, and assured him instead of her full support with our without an executive offer.
“Medyo naalangan ako doon kasi baka iniisip ni Presidente ang dahilan ng aking pagbisita ay pag-apply ng trabaho, so ang sagot ko yata sa kanya, Mr. President that’s not what I came here for po. Tapos inulit niya ulit, I want you to be a part of my Cabinet. Tapos sabi ko Mr. President, with our without a Cabinet post, I assure you of my full support,” she said.
Robredo added that Duterte told her to give him one week to come up with an appropriate Cabinet position for her.
“Sabi niya pag-aaralan niya kung ano ang available. Sabi niya give me one week. Pero ako I didn’t give it much thought kasi alam ko marami namang pangalan ang kino-consider. So when he called me, parang hindi na ako masyadong nagulat,” she said.
The first formal meeting of the country’s top two officials came almost two months after being elected. They first met in person during the military’s change of command ceremony last week.
Fanning speculations of a supposed distance between them, Duterte previously said he was noncommittal about giving Robredo a position in his Cabinet as he did not want to hurt the feelings of his friend, defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Robredo said it was “understandable” that it took some time before Duterte welcomed her in his executive family, as the President had yet to get to know her.
“Ang alam ko naman kaya hindi niya ako kinonsider before kasi hindi kami magkakilala, which was understandable kasi if you are appointing a member of the Cabinet, dapat full trust and confidence mo ‘yun kasi siya ‘yung magiging alter-ego mo. So nung nakilala niya na ako, ‘yun siguro ‘yung nag-pave ng way for a change of heart,” she said.
(He didn’t consider me before because he did not know me. When he knew me, that probably paved the way for his change of heart.)
In a phone call, Duterte on Friday asked Robredo to head the government’s housing arm.
The Vice President accepted the offer, saying that it would allow her to do serve the marginalized sector as she promised in the campaign trail and when she formally took oath.
“Ang sabi ko sa kanya oo naman po kasi matagal na po naming adbokasiya ‘yan ng yumao kong asawa. Hindi ko maalala ‘yung exact na sinabi niya pero in effect he was offering me the post. Ang sabi ko sa kanya, hindi ko kasi alam na he meant right then and there,” she said.
“Ang sabi ko Mr. President next week po magpapa-set ako ng schedule diyan sa office niyo, bibisitahin ko po kayo para pag-usapan ‘yung parameters. Kung busy po kayo kahit si Sec. Bong na lang. Ang sabi niya sa akin, para hindi na kailangan o saka na, tanggapin na, something to that effect,” Robredo added.
(I told him ‘sure’ because it has long been an advocacy of my late husband…In effect, when he was offering the post, I told him, ‘okay, Mr. President, let’s meet. If you are busy, I am amenable to meeting Sec. Bong Go.’ He told me there was no need, and we can meet some other time. ‘Just accept the post,’ to that effect.)
Robredo is set to meet HUDCC officials at her office on Friday. IDL
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.