Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr celebrated his birthday only a day after his close friend, President Rodrigo Duterte, celebrated his.
On Wednesday, March 29, Evasco or "Jun" as Duterte calls him, turned 73. He is a year older than Duterte, who, on Tuesday, turned 72.
Not only are their birthdays separated by just a day, they celebrated them in a very similar manner.
Evasco, like Duterte, spent time with his grandchildren and children in Davao City.
"I'm with my children and grandchildren now. I have never celebrated grandiosely my birthday," Evasco told Rappler in a text message.
His staff said he will be on leave until Thursday, March 30.
Duterte, too, bonded with his young grandchildren, including new grandson Stonefish Carpio, in his home in Davao City.
Last year, the two celebrated their birthdays in the middle of a back-breaking campaign season, only to find that the following year, they would be turning a year older having won the victory they had worked hard for.
Evasco is arguably the Cabinet official closest to Duterte after Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, and likely the busiest. He is among those few officials whose advice the President takes seriously.
Duterte put his closest adviser in charge of all the government's poverty-related agencies and the government program he mentions most often of all (aside from the drug war), the 8888 Citizens' Hotline.
In fact, two of the President's Executive Orders expand the powers of Cabinet Secretary Evasco. (READ: Duterte signes EO creating Office of Participatory Governance)
Duterte and Evasco share a long history. The President first met Evasco in the 1980s when he was arrested for being a New People's Army (NPA) rebel. Back then, he was a priest, something which caught Duterte, then a Davao City prosecutor.
Incidentally, Evasco and the NPA share a birthday. The NPA celebrated its 48th anniversary on Tuesday, too.
After the ouster of former president Ferdinand Marcos, Evasco was looking for a job. Duterte took him on as his chief of staff when he became Davao City mayor for the first time.
Evasco stayed by his side until he ran for Maribojoc, Bohol mayor in 2007. Like Duterte, he would be reelected to the post several times. But in 2016, he was again called by his close friend to lead a presidential campaign that would forever change the country's fate.
After serving as Duterte's campaign manager, Duterte appointed him Cabinet Secretary. – 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.