Malacau00f1ang file photo
Honeylet Avanceña, President Rodrigo Duterte's partner, is proving to be more than just a pretty co-host of state banquets.
According to a Rappler source, Avanceña is now suggesting agenda items for Cabinet meetings. For this month's meeting, the President's partner wants the Cabinet to discuss the rehabilitation of Pasig River.
Avanceña's suggestion was supposedly recently relayed to Palace staff by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
Interestingly, efforts to clean up the Pasig River have been associated with Philippine First Ladies. At least two former First Ladies have led the charge for resurrecting the major Manila waterway to its past glory – Amelita "Ming" Ramos and Imelda Marcos.
Agenda items are determined through a long process that involves vetting by agencies and Malacañang staff.
But with Go's ear, it seems Avanceña has found another way into the process. It's not certain, however, if her suggested topic will indeed be included in the final agenda.
During a recent visit to Malacañang, Avanceña also dropped in on the National Security Council Executive Committee meeting last March 20, according to a source.
She came in towards the end of the meeting, but not to participate. She only wanted her family friends visiting from California to have a photo with the President. Discussions on security matters were paused while she was in the room.
In the almost two years of Duterte's presidency, Avanceña has taken on a more public role. From being a constant but silent companion in his campaign sorties in 2016, Avanceña has been assigned by Duterte to host visiting dignitaries, a task usually given to First Ladies.
Groups of visitors from Davao are also supposedly able to secure a meet-and-greet with Duterte in Malacañang through her efforts.
Avanceña's influence is also felt in some appointments. Her cousin, Melissa Avanceña Aradanas, is now housing deputy secretary general, while another cousin, Jhopee Avanceña, heads Malacañang's Internal House Affairs Office. – 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.