IT'S HIS HOUSE: A Palace spokesman defended on Thursday the decision not to invite Vice President Leni Robredo to the New Year's Vin d'Honneur in Malacañang Palace, saying it is President Rodrigo Duterte's prerogative to pick who he wants to invite.
"Prerogative naman ng Presidente kung sino gusto niyang i-invite. It is his house right now, iyung Malacañang," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told radio DZMM.
"Sa bahay mo nga, kung sinong gusto mong i-invite, 'iyun lang ang makakapasok. Mag-invite ka ba ng taong hindi mo kasundo? Mahirap naman, awkward."
(It is the President's prerogative to invite whoever he likes. Malacañang is his house right now. In your own home, only those whom you invite may enter. Would you invite someone you are incompatible with? That's a bit difficult, awkward.)
Duterte on Wednesday hosted his first New Year's Vin d'honneur and shared a toast with Cabinet officials and representatives of the diplomatic community.
"Andoon lahat ng mga miyembro ng diplomatic corps, US ambassador, Russian ambassador, Chinese ambassador tapos andoon ang Cabinet. Kinausap ni Pangulo lahat ng mga miyembro ng diplomatic corps isa-isa," Andanar said.
(All members of the diplomatic corps were there, including the US, Russian and Chinese ambassadors, as well as the Cabinet. President Duterte talked to every member of the diplomatic corps one by one.)
The Office of the Vice President has confirmed that Robredo's invitation to the event was "retracted" by Palace officials last week.
Relations between the President and the Vice President soured in December in the aftermath of the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which Robredo opposed.
Robredo tendered her resignation as Housing Secretary last December after receiving a text message from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, Jr. "to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings."
Duterte earlier said he had no choice but to ask Robredo to stop attending Cabinet meetings because he cannot bear to face someone who, he believes, supports his ouster.