How Robredo manages role in Duterte admin

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2017 01:14 AM

MANILA - She may disagree with President Rodrigo Duterte's policies, but Vice President Leni Robredo said she is not taking her beef with the President personally.

"I may disagree with the policies of the President from time to time, but tingin ko, yung personal namin, we’re okay," she said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart."

Robredo said she believes she was "warmly received by the President each and every time" she met him when she was still a Cabinet secretary.

"The President has not said anything derogatory against my person even when I was out of Cabinet already," she said.

"So, I try to maintain it na ganoon—na kung kokontra ako, kokontra ako sa mga polisiya. I think lugi yung bansa kung mag-aaway kami on a personal level," she added.

The two have had a shaky relationship, even having separate inauguration ceremonies at the start of their terms. Duterte had initially said he is not inclined to give Robredo a Cabinet post, but eventually assigned her as housing chief.

Things took turn for the worse after the president accused the vice-president of supporting his ouster, and told her to desist from attending Cabinet meetings.

Robredo, who resigned from her portfolio after Duterte's order, said she had expected she would also be asked not to attend the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting last month.

"Even in the morning, I was asking my staff, ‘Did they not disinvite me?’ because half of me is sort of expecting that I would be disinvited, which was okay," she said.

"As of 4:00, I wasn’t disinvited so I attended. The president was very cordial," she added.

Robredo recalled, Duterte was open to her comments during the meeting.

"The things that I contributed to the discussions, he was very open to that. I think the relationship was okay. It wasn’t very warm, but it was okay," she said.

Apart from being disinvited from proceeding Cabinet meetings, Robredo said she was also invited, then disinvited to the the vin d’honneur, the Palace's annual reception for diplomats.

She said she was ready to go to the reception, to show the international community her unity with the president on pressing issues, "but because I was disinvited, I also don’t want to force myself in the sense that it might create discomfort."

Robredo said she is not offended by the disinvitations, and would rather use her time to fulfill her duties as second in line as best she could under current circumstances.

"I’m trying to focus on what I’m here for. I think this is not the time to have egos as far as the office is concerned. I’m here because of the mandate given to me by the people, and because I’m vice president, I’m supposed to be supportive of the president and be his partner in running the country," she said.

"But because I’m not given that much opportunity to partner with him, I’m doing the best I can to make do with whatever is there," she added.

Robredo said she is not losing her cool over these, either, because she is used to "swimming against the odds" given that her late husband, longtime Naga City Mayor and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, had been in the opposition for a long time.

"Yung pagiging outside the kulambo parang is something I’m comfortable with. Yung sa’kin lang, parang lugi ako kapag napikon ako kasi I won’t be able to do my job anymore," she said.