DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 15 June) — The inauguration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President-elect Leni Robreo will be separate instead of joint “to be fair to Leni,” a member of Duterte’s Inaugural Committee said.
In a statement issued late Wednesday night (June 15), Duterte’s Executive Assistant, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, incoming Special Assistant and Presidential Management Staff chief, and member of the Inaugural Committee, said Duterte’s inauguration, which will be held at the Malacanan Palace on June 30, will be “simple yet meaningful,” consistent with his principles on austerity and in ensuring there is least disruption to the public.
“This imposition will not be fair to Leni as the limited slots would restrict her prerogative to invite more guests and supporters as a good number of the slots (in the inauguration venue) are to be allotted for members of Congress, Judiciary and the Diplomatic Corps. Moreso, the remaining limited number of slots are likewise given to family and friends,” Go said.
Go earlier told MindaNews that Duterte will take his oath at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall, that no luncheon would be served but “pritong saging” (fried bananas) will be served. (see other story). The Rizal Hall is the largest room in Malacanan Palace.
“We believe that Leni Robredo’s family and supporters who worked hard for her deserve also to be present to celebrate her victory. And this can only be possible through a separate inauguration,” Go said.
Duterte’s critics as well as supporters were surprised at the announcement of a separate inauguration. A number asked if Duterte does not want to offend Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who lost to Robredo by about 260,000 votes and who is filing an electoral protest by June 28.
In the May 9 elections, Duterte was the standard bearer of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) while Robredo was the running mate of administration bet Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.
Duterte told a press conference on May 31 in Davao City that he did not name Robredo to a Cabinet post because he did not want to offend his friend, Marcos, Jr. Duterte’s father once worked as a Cabinet member under then President Feredinand Marcos, Sr.
Duterte said there was “no compelling reason for me to accommodate the VP.”
Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III, officer in charge of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) said there was one instance when the President-elect had his inauguration without the Vice President.
This was on February 25, 1986, when Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. had his inauguration in Malacanan Palace without Arturo Tolentino, his Vice President.
On the same day, however, Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel also took their oath of office at Club Filipino. By nightfall, the Marcoses were fetched by helicopters of the United States and were flown to Clark Air Base en route to Hawaii.
The ABS-CBN news website reported early Wednesday evening that incoming Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the inauguration plans have yet to be finalized but said space constraint could be a reason for the reported separate inauguration.
ABS-CBN quoted him as saying “Gusto niya (Duterte) kasi simple lang. Kung titingnan mo ang space, imposible na more than 500 (invited guests). It is impossible to add more than 500, so just imagine ‘pag magkasama or sabay ‘yung inauguraiton ng president at vice president, saan mo ilalagay bisita ng vice president?” Andanar said.
The Rizal Ceremonial Hall was the venue of the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on October 15, 2012.
The Palace had a guest list of 800, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews a day before the signing. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)