Duterte wants 'good rapport' with Leni Robredo first

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Before any talk on Cabinet positions, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte thinks it might be best to establish "good rapport" with Vice President-elect Leni Robredo first.

"Maybe we can talk of just having good rapport in the meantime, kasi hindi nga kami magkakilala (because we don't know each other yet)," he told media during a late-night press conference on Saturday, May 28."

The two are to be officially proclaimed as the winners of the 2016 presidential and vice presidential elections in the week of May 30.

Asked if he already had a Cabinet position in mind for Robredo, he said he has not thought about it because he has been focused on selecting from his own circle.

"That never entered my mind actually. I am not trying to be a smart aleck but I'm still trying to figure out the selection in my own group and party," he said.

For now, he has been busy thinking of where to put "friends that nakautang ako ng loob (who I owe a lot to)" in his Cabinet.

Asked if this was tantamount to allowing his friendships to influence his Cabinet appointments, he said, "It’s not that. There are party guys who were loyal to me all along and who were also in a way for one reason or another a factor in my winning the presidency."

Because of this, he said he is "not ready to offer anything" to Robredo at the moment.

"I should not be looking beyond my borders yet," he said.

He defended his decision to appoint his friends to Cabinet positions, saying he wanted to appoint people he could trust.

"You do not appoint somebody that you do not trust. But you have also to know the person, how long have you known a person to know enough of his character, and his capacity and his honesty," he said.

Because of his limited "sphere of influence" he said he had no way of knowing "looming geniuses in government."

"Ang mga kilala ko mga brad ko at mga kababata ko dito na mahusay. I could not have selected from a larger portion of the population for the simple reason that ang horizon ko, limitado ako," he said.

(The ones I know are my friends, my childhood friends who are excellent. I could not have selected from a larger portion of the population for the simple reason that my horizon is limited.)

In the Commission on Elections' vice presidential debate, Robredo had said that she wants a position that would allow her to streamline the government's anti-poverty programs.

The Robredo camp has yet to reach out to Duterte for a possible meeting. But there was talk that a meeting was supposed to have been arranged between the two in the days right after the May 9 elections. The meeting didn't push through. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.