MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo did not attend Wednesday's turnover ceremony for the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), where President Duterte was the guest of honor.
The country's two highest officials first met cordially at the July turnover ceremony that installed General Ricardo Visaya as AFP chief.
Visaya was replaced by Lieutenant General Eduardo Año during turnover rites at Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday afternoon
But Robredo, who resigned this week as Housing secretary due to irreconcilable differences with Duterte, said she could not attend the event due to a prior commitment. She was a guest speaker at the Teachers' Congress 2016 in Surigao City today.
"Actually, invited ako doon, invited ako sa turnover, pero ito kasing commitment dito nauna. Nareceive namin yung invitation for the turnover just before I left Manila," she explained.
"Parang too late na din to back out of this. Yung dating ko sa Manila mid-afternoon pa, so mukhang hindi ko na maabutan. Pero, pero kung wala lang sana ito, I would have attended."
(I was actually invited to the turnover, but my commitment in Surigao was scheduled first. We received the invitation for the turnover just before I left Manila.)
(It was too late to back out of this by then. I would arrive in Manila by mid-afternoon so I would probably miss the turnover rights anyway. But if it wasn't for the Teachers' Congress, I would have attended.)
The Vice President said she regrets missing the AFP turnover since it would have ben an opportunity for her to reach out to Duterte after her resignation from the Cabinet.
"Kasi ako naman, magre-reach out pa din naman ako kay Presidente, kasi tingin ko nga, obligasyon ko naman maging supportive sa kanya. Yung hindi ko lang talaga mapa-promise na, yung mga bagay na hindi namin pagkakaintindihan, pagpapalit yung aking desisyon" said Robredo.
(I will still reach out to the President because it is my obligation to be supportive of him. But I cannot promise that I will change my decision over the issues we have disagreed on. )
She has differed with the President on alleged extra-judicial killings of illegal drug suspects and the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes' Cemetery.
The Vice President has also criticized Duterte's "tasteless"remarks about her appearance and private life.
Robredo said she cannot compromise her conviction over issues in which the President has an opposing stance.
"Kasi, yung mga bagay na hindi namin pinagkakaintindihan, sigurado ako sa conviction ko doon. So iyun 'yung hindi mapapalitan. 'Yun iyung ihihingi ko sa kanya ng tawad na hindi ko maibibigay sa kanya. Pero ako naman, palagi akong mag-o-offer na in any way, I can be of help, nandito pa din ako" she said.
(I am certain of my conviction on the things we disagree about. That won't change. I apologize if I cannot give him that. But if I can be of help in any way, I'll be here.)
Meanwhile, the Vice President said her staff failed to secure an appoint with Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., who replaced her as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
Robredo said she wanted a meeting with Evasco so they could have a smooth turnover at HUDCC.
"Mukhang hindi kami nakahingi ng appointment, susubok ulit sa mga coming days. Pero sa akin naman kasi, the sooner kasi na ma-turnover ko, the better naman for everyone, para wala ding hinto yung pag-asikaso ng mga bagay," she said.
"Pinakiusapan ko na lang yung HUDCC staff na sila yung magta-transition muna, habang hindi ko pa napapa-receive yung terminal report."
(It seems we did not get an appointment. We'll try again the comings days. The sooner the turnover is, the better for everyone so there will be no halt in operations. I have asked the HUDCC staff to transition by themselves while I have not yet given my terminal report.)