MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, July 7, finally appointed Vice President Leni Robredo to a Cabinet position – a full week after they separately took their oaths of office, and almost a month since he started announcing Cabinet appointments.
No, the Chief Executive did not make the offer for Robredo to become his administration’s housing chief when they first met at the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on July 1. It wasn’t even mentioned when Robredo paid Duterte a courtesy call in Malacañang on July 5.
The offer for Robredo to become the chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council was made through a phone call – yes, a phone call – in the afternoon of Thursday, July 7.
On Thursday, the President was taping a media address when he was asked by Rocky Ignacio, a reporter for the government-owned PTV-4 – if Duterte would be giving Robredo a Cabinet post. His answer led to a phone call to Robredo. Here is the transcript:
[Will Vice President Robredo be given a Cabinet post?]
Is that a question or a suggestion? I’ll satisfy everybody. That is the question everybody, every media I got to meet, would always say, “Ano ibigay mo kay Leni?”
Are you a friend of Leni? Do you have the number of Leni? Call her. Because I will tell her what you’re asking me always. Gusto mong magtanong tapos…. O, you listen.
(He talks to Vice President Robredo on the phone.)
Ma’am Leni…. It is afternoon pa pala. Good afternoon. Na’ndito ako sa opisina ngayon. Tinatanong ako ni Rocky Ignacio sa Malacañang Press kung bibigyan ko raw kayo ng p’westo sa Gabinete. ‘Yan ang tanong niya. P’wede kong sagutin? (Vice President Robredo answers.)
Ah, tinanong ka na? (Vice President responds.)
O, kasi panay kasi ang ano…. Nahihiya na ako, Ma’am, eh. Nakikinig ang buong Cabinet, Ma’am, pati ’yung… (The Vice President explains.)
O, kasi gusto ko…. Alam mo, Ma’am, kasi, tinawagan kita para mahinto na itong tanong-tanong. (The Vice President responds.)
Kaya nga eh, para…. Do not be apologetic, but gusto ko na ’tong…tanong nang tanong, tanong nang tanong….P’wede ka [sa] Housing, Ma’am? Can you be the housing secretary? (Vice President responds.)
Tanggapin mo, Ma’am? (Vice President responds.)
Yes… (Vice President responds.)
’Wag na, Ma’am, kunin mo na lang ano. The Executive Secretary will hand you the appointment [papers]. (Vice President responds.)
So, mahinto na ito, Ma’am…. Kasi tatanggapin mo, Ma’am, kaya? (Vice President responds.)
Sige, Ma’am. So that will be on time with the next Cabinet meeting, and even on security matters, para you’d be kept abreast of what is happening to our country. Just for you to know.
Robredo readily accepted the appointment. She said: “Mas mapaglilingkuran natin ang ating mga kababayang walang tahanan, at maipagpapatuloy natin ang ating pangakong itulak ang kaunlaran at kaginhawaan para sa ating mga kapus palad na kababayan.”
(We can now serve our homeless countrymen better, and we will be able to fulfill our promise to push for the development and provide comfort to poor fellow Filipinos.)
The HUDCC was the same agency headed by Robredo’s predecessors, former Vice President Jejomar Binay and Noli de Castro. – Rappler.com