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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang failed to invite Vice President Leni Robredo to the second Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting held on Tuesday, August 29.
Robredo was not in the list of officials who attended the meeting held on Tuesday night.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief, confirmed to Rappler that Robredo was not invited.
NEDA, which is the principal Ledac secretariat, is in charge of setting the agenda for the meetings but Malacañang sends out the invitations to Ledac members and other guests.
Pernia said Malacañang staff had informed him that the Office of the Vice President had been following up with them if Robredo would attend the meeting.
Since his office has no powers to decide on who gets invited, Pernia said he "left it at that" and waited for news from Malacañang if they made a final decision on the matter.
But Monday, August 28, was a busy day for President Rodrigo Duterte who, Pernia said, ultimately decides on who attends the Ledac. He said it was likely that Duterte or his staff simply forgot to invite the Vice President.
"Siguro hindi na (Maybe no more), they were not able to attend to it. I don't know the reason. I don't want to impute anything," the NEDA chief said.
A Palace official said it is the Cabinet Secretariat, under of the office of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, which sends out invitations to Ledac meetings.
A source from the Robredo camp said they did follow up with Malacañang in the days leading up to the Ledac meeting.
Instead of an invitation, Robredo's office was asked to just submit a "position paper," said the source.
Vice President Robredo confirmed all of this later on Tuesday and said that because the law creating Ledac states she is a member, she will still submit a position paper on what was discussed at the meeting.
"For us, we do the best we can despite the roadblocks. If we aren't allowed to attend, we will submit a position paper. So, in effect, we were still able to participate," she said.
Robredo does not think Duterte himself is to blame for her not being sent an invitation.
"I'm not sure if that's at the level of the President because there is a secretariat handling Ledac," she said.
Previously, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go had said she was invited to the first meeting as "mandated" by Republic Act 7640, the law that created the Ledac. Under the law, the Vice President is a member of the council.
The Ledac advises the President on programs, policies, and laws necessary to achieving the goals of the administration.
Established during the Ramos administration, the Ledac is a venue for executive and legislative branches to discuss the laws needed for priority programs and targets of the government.
The Ledac is chaired by the President and its members include the Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker, 7 Cabinet members, 3 senators, 3 House members, and one representative each from local government, youth, and the private sector. – With a report from Mara Cepeda/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 email@example.com.