‘No regrets,’ says Robredo on her brief stint in Duterte Cabinet
What the public did not hear when President Rodrigo Duterte was asking Vice President Leni Robredo to be his housing czar in a public phone call sometime in July was Robredo’s expressing her reluctance to accept the offer.
From the very start, Robredo said it was clear to her that she and the President will have differing views on many issues, and that she cannot stand being silent when she sees that the administration’s policies would hurt the people’s interest.
But Duterte told her: “That’s not important anymore.”
With that assurance, Robredo readily accepted the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairmanship.
Little did she know that five months after that phone call, she will be forced out of Duterte’s Cabinet despite the President’s repeated vow that he will not take their opposing views against her.
But Robredo said that she does not regret accepting Duterte’s offer to be a member of the Cabinet.
“[No regrets]. I have done so much for the agency within that five months,” Robredo told INQUIRER.net as she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 on Wednesday from a two-day trip in Mindanao provinces.
When asked if she considers being out of the Duterte Cabinet a liberation, Robredo said: “Of course.”
For months, Robredo added, she always had to make sure her responses to issues were “calibrated.”
Citing “irreconcilable differences” between Robredo and Duterte as reason, Duterte, through his Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, ordered Robredo to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting last Monday.
Wearing a backpack over the blue knee-length dress she wore when she gave a keynote speech at a teachers’ congress in Surigao City, Robredo took a commercial flight to Manila on Wednesday afternoon. She was accompanied by a handful of staff and security members.
Looking tired but composed, the Vice President gamely posed for pictures when she arrived at the airport.
Robredo said she would have wanted to attend the turnover ceremony for the newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief where she could have the opportunity to speak with the President in person but she arrived late in the afternoon.
A day after resigning from HUDCC on Monday, Robredo continued attending to her housing-related commitments and visited Compostela Valley to check on the government-built houses for the victims of Typhoon “Pablo.”
Speaking to housing beneficiaries there, Robredo promised that even without a housing post, she would continue to push for the amendment of government policies on resettlement, adding expenses for water supply and electricity connection to their benefits.
On Tuesday, she flew to Surigao City to have a dialogue with an indigenous people tribe and attend a gathering of teachers organized by the Department of Education Caraga region at the Surigao Provincial Gym.
Robredo swept the Caraga region during the May elections, garnering a total of 461,858 votes from Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur against her closest opponent former Senator Bongbong Marcos’ 239,287 votes.
Wearing color-coded shirts, teachers from different provinces in Caraga swarmed around Robredo upon arriving at the venue to take selfies with her.
Outside a commercial building few meters away from the gymnasium, a tarpaulin bearing words “We support you VP Leni” was displayed.
Constantine Leop, a teacher from Sta. Cruz, Surigao del Norte who was among those who mobbed Robredo, told INQUIRER.net that he strongly believes that the vice presidency will not be taken away from Robredo as she was the real winner in the tight vice presidential race last May.
Marcos, who lost by a slim margin of over 200,000 votes in the vice presidential elections, filed a protest case against Robredo, accusing her and the Liberal Party of conniving with vote-counting-machine provider Smartmatic to alter the election results.
“There are rumors that Marcos will steal the vice presidency from her but that will not happen because I fully believe that she won the elections,” Leop said.
Unaffected by social media attacks
Leop said that the issues being thrown against Robredo would not diminish his admiration and support for the Vice President.
Like Leop, the widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said she and her daughters Aika, Tricia and Jillian are not letting the vicious attacks, especially on social media, sap their morale.
“Alam naman naming hindi totoo kaya bakit kami magpapaapekto?” Robredo said.
The Vice President will face Inquirer reporters and editors at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia Forum at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
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