PNoy tours Coconut Palace for first time

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2012 06:43 PM | Updated as of Apr 20 2012 08:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino visited the Coconut Palace for an impromptu tour after it was renovated to serve as the Office of the Vice President.

Aquino went to the Coconut Palace upon the invitation of Vice President Jejomar Binay after both leaders attended the opening ceremonies of the Abu Dhabi labor ministerial dialogue at the nearby Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

It was Aquino's first time inside the Coconut Palace, which was built in 1981, upon the initiative of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, supposedly to serve as the residence of Pope John Paul II who was visiting Manila.

The Pope refused the offer, saying the place was too ostentatious considering that the country was mired in poverty.

At one point during the tour, the President noted that the Vice President's office looked brighter compared to the presidential office in Malacañang.

The Palace was quick to say that Aquino's visit was a “social call” and that nothing political was discussed.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said Binay invited Aquino to tour his office after the President told him that he has never been to the Coconut Palace.  

“It's really more of a social call, rather than anything else. Wala naman po silang napag-usapan na isyu habang nandoon si Pangulong Aquino sa Coconut Palace,” Carandang said.  

“He (President Aquino) just said, 'It was the first time I saw it. We had a light discussion. Nothing serious.' No serious issues were discussed,” Carandang added.

"Ang sabi nga niya, 'I actually have never been inside the Coconut Palace so when the Vice President invited me, I thought it would be time for me to take a look.'"