Duterte admin breaks tradition, sidelines Robredo in ASEAN

Mara Cepeda
Duterte admin breaks tradition, sidelines Robredo in ASEAN
Vice President Leni Robredo will not join Cabinet members in welcoming ASEAN leaders upon their arrival at the airport, a traditional role for the Philippine vice president

MANILA, Philippines – Breaking tradition, Malacañang did not invite Vice President Leni Robredo to join Philippine officials tasked to welcome leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) arriving this weekend.

The Vice President will not be among the government officials who will greet the foreign leaders upon their arrival for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits at the Clark International Airport and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Robredo, however, was invited to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the 31st ASEAN Summit on Monday and Tuesday, November 13 and 14, respectively.

She will also deliver the keynote speech during the ASEAN Investment and Business Summit to be held at the Solaire Resort and Casino on Tuesday at 3 pm. 

The official Guide to ASEAN Practices and Protocol states that visiting heads of states, ministers, and the secretary-general of the ASEAN “shall be received and sent off by the appropriate representative of the host country” and “in accordance with the protocol of the host country.”

Philippine Star associate editor Marichu Villanueva, former president of the Malacañang Press Corps, said in her column that traditionally, “one of the glorified tasks” of the Philippine vice president is to “welcome state guests in red carpet reception rites at the airport.”

Former vice president Jejomar Binay was still assigned by former president Benigno Aquino III to welcome state leaders arriving in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015. At the time, Binay had already cut ties with the administration and was the standard-bearer of the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance.

Binay had also welcomed other world leaders who visited the Philippines before the 2015 APEC Summit, including former United States president Barack Obama. 

Last year, Robredo resigned as housing czar after Duterte barred her from attending Cabinet meetings.

While the Vice President has so far refused to take the role of opposition leader, she is a critic of several policies and decisions of the Duterte administration, including the bloody drug war and the hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Since the Vice President’s resignation from the Cabinet, Malacañang has stopped inviting Robredo to its events. This includes the last two meetings of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, of which the Vice President is a member. 

Duterte and Robredo now only see each other personally at major events of the Department of National Defense, including the military’s command turnover ceremony and the program for National Heroes’ Day. – Rappler.com

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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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.