MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte offered Vice President Leni Robredo a Cabinet post, specifically the position of chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
The HUDCC was the same agency headed by Robredo's predecessors, former Vice President Jejomar Binay and Noli de Castro.
This was announced by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II during a press conference on Thursday, July 7.
But later that evening, the moment Duterte made Robredo the offer by phonecall was aired by state-run PTV4.
In the video, taped on Thursday afternoon, Duterte, apparently at that moment decided to call Robredo using the phone of his longtime aide and now Special Assistant to the President Secretary Christopher "Bong" Go.
"Pwede ka Housing, ma’am? Can you be the Housing Secretary? Tanggapin mo, ma’am?" said Duterte in the video. (Can you be in charge of Housing, ma'am? Can you be the Housing Secretary? Will you accept, ma'am?)
Robredo's voice can be heard on the other line. (READ the transcript: Hello, Leni? How Duterte made the Cabinet offer to VP Robredo)
Before calling Robredo, Duterte said he was tired of media repeatedly asking him if he would give the vice president a Cabinet post.
He said the same to Robredo: "The Executive Secretary will hand you the appointment. Mahinto na ito ma’am, kasi tatanggapin mo kaya?" (So the questions can stop, if you accept?)
Duterte then asked Robredo attend the Cabinet meeting on Monday, July 11, "so you can be kept abreast of what is happening to the entire country."
Robredo issued a statement, saying she had accepted the offer, shortly after Malacañang made the announcement.
"I believe that both parties of the Vice President and President are happy with the decision," Aguirre told media after Duterte's call to Robredo was taped.
Other Cabinet members are also glad to welcome Robredo as a full-fledged Cabinet member, said Aguirre.
Asked why Duterte, who had been initially hesistant to give Robredo a Cabinet post, changed his mind, Aguirre attributed it to a "warming up" between the two officials.
"I believe there was some sort of warming up between the two," he said.
Media had been reporting that both officials were friendly to each other during their first meeting and first public appearance together.
"It was reported that the meeting between the two are very amiable and so I believe that was the key for the President to offer her a position and for the Vice President to accept it," said Aguirre.
Duterte had delayed giving Robredo a Cabinet post, saying then that he did not know her well and that he had to consider his friendship with former vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whom Robredo defeated. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.