Robredo on meeting Duterte: ‘It exceeded expectations’

Mara Cepeda
Vice President Leni Robredo says she is hopeful about a 'healthy' working relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte in the next 6 years

ALL SMILES. Vice President Leni Robredo describes her first meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte as cordial. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said she was elated by the reaction of President Rodrigo Duterte when they met for the first time at the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Vice President arrived in her hometown Naga City in Camarines Sur via bus on Saturday, July 2, a day after her first meeting with Duterte

Photos of the meeting, which Robredo described as “cordial,” went viral online. The two highest officials of the land were all smiles in the pictures.

Pinapagalitan nga ako ng mga anak ko kasi parang tawa daw ako nang tawa. Sabi ko, siguro na-manifest lang iyong saya ko,” shared Robredo.

(My daughters scolded me because they said I kept on laughing. I said that was probably because my happiness was manifested.) 

Na-manifest lang siguro iyong saya ko na ang fears ko nang first meeting namin ay hindi naman nangyari at parang na-exceed niya iyong expectations na napakabait naman niya sa akin kahapon,” she said.

(I was happy because my fears about [things happening during] our first meeting did not happen and he exceeded expectations. He was very nice to me yesterday.)

Duterte and Robredo were off to a rocky start after the President said he was not keen on giving the Vice President a Cabinet post out of courtesy to his friend Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Robredo beat Marcos by a hairline in the 2016 elections, prompting the latter to allege cheating. He filed an electoral protest before the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal a day before Robredo’s inauguration. 

Taking it slow 

The Vice President already asked Duterte if she could schedule a courtesy call with him next week.  

She said she is hopeful that the outcome of their first meeting would lead to “harmonious” and “cordial” working relations in the next 6 years. 

Palagay ko para sa bansa naman, kailangan na iyong parang healthy lang ang magiging working relationship namin kasi after all, kami naman ang nanay at tatay ng bansa. Kaya after yesterday mas naging hopeful naman ako na bumuti,” said Robredo. 

(For the country’s sake, I think a healthy working relationship between us is needed. After all, we are the mother and father of the country. That’s why after yesterday, I became more hopeful it will be bettter.)

'HELLO.' Robredo waves at the camera as she stands beside Duterte. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President

Hindi siguro natin mapipilit kasi once pa lang naman kami nagkita. Pero siguro in the coming days, kapag mayroong opportunity, tingin ko naman shine-share namin iyong mga panaginip para sa ating bansa. At kung anuman iyong mga pinagdaanan, I am sure na pareho ko, willing din siya na i-set aside iyon,” she added. 

(Perhaps we can’t force him immediately because we’ve only met once. But maybe in the coming days, when there’s an opportunity, I think we share dreams for the country. Whatever we went through, I’m sure that like me, he would be willing to set those aside.)

Robredo said she is no longer expecting a Cabinet post but will nonetheless support the Duterte administration

Holding office 

DUTIES AT HOME. Robredo attends the unveiling of a marker of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Marker in Barangay Tabuco in Naga City on July 2. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President

Robredo arrived in Naga City aboard a bus, a longtime practice of the Vice President. 

She went to the unveiling of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals marker in Barangay Tabuco. She then made an appearance at the general parent-teacher association assembly at the Naga Central School.

Robredo also attended a testimonial luncheon sponsored by the University of Nueva Caceres, Unibersidad de Sta Isabel, and the Naga City local government at the Avenue Plaza Hotel.

The Vice President was also invited by the Bicol Indian Sikh Temple and the Naga City School Board to the turnover ceremony of ceiling fans and printers to public schools at the Naga City People’s Hall.

A thanksgiving party for Robredo has been set at the Quezon plaza in the evening.

Will Robredo continue riding buses when going to and from Naga now that she is holding the second highest post in the land? 

Actually kahit hindi ako nag-bus ganoon rin. Mayroon silang required na parang number ng kasama. So noong nalaman ko nga na ganoon rin, sabi ko baka mas mabuti pang mag-bus tuloy para mas tipid,” said Robredo. 

(Actually things would still have been the same even if I didn’t take the bus today. There’s a required number of people who should always join me. So when I found out that it was going to be no different, I said it would be better if we just took the bus so it would be cheaper.) 

Kailangan lang, sabi ko iyong mga plano kong uwi-uwi, hindi pala siya puwedeng ganoon kadalas kasi magastos. Kaya siguro babalansehin na lang,” said Robredo.

(My original plan of going home frequently is no longer possible because it would be expensive. We’ll probably just have to balance things.) 

The Vice President will be holding office at the newly refurbished Quezon City Executive House in New Manila, Quezon City, but she also plans to establish satellite offices across the country.  

While waiting for a budget, Robredo said she will temporarily put up a satellite office in Naga City at the office of Camarines Sur Third District Representative Gabby Bordado, who agreed to Robredo’s request.

Pero mahahanapan naman iyan ng paraan. Ayoko naman kasing hintayin pa na magkaroon ng budget, na maraming umaasa sa tulong natin,” she said.

(We’ll find a way. I don’t like to just wait for my budget when many are relying on our help.) –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.