MANILA — The non-invitation of Vice President Leni Robredo to be physically present at the Batasang Pambansa for President Rodrigo Duterte's annual state report was an "affront to hardworking women," according to a political science professor on Monday.
Robredo revealed Sunday on her weekly radio program that she was only invited to attend Duterte's penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) via Zoom.
"Hindi ako imbitado sa House of Representatives... Iyong na-receive namin na invitation ay Zoom, so iyon iyong pupuntahan ko," the Vice President said.
According to University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Encinas-Franco, vice presidents have always been invited to attend the SONA by virtue of tradition.
"Ang SONA, wala namang may-ari no’n eh. It’s a tradition. At pagka-tradition, dapat sundin mo kung ano 'yong ginagawa in the past para mapagyaman ang tradisyon na ito," Encinas-Franco told TeleRadyo.
The professor believed the decision of Duterte's camp not to invite Robredo had shades of sexism and can be considered an attack against women who have worked hard to "take space."
"Parang hindi niya binibigyan ng espasyo ang isang babaeng politiko na elected ng sambayanang Pilipino. Sa akin, hindi talaga maganda ito and this is an affront to all the women who worked very hard to attain their space," Encinas-Franco said.
Belonging to opposing parties, Duterte and Robredo have always had a tumultuous political relationship.
Robredo has been told to quit her cabinet posts twice, first as a housing czar in 2016 and as anti-narcotics co-chief in 2019.