DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 December) — “Pwede ka Housing, Ma’am? Can you be the Housing Secretary?,” President Rodrigo Roa Duterte asked Vice President Leni Robredo in a telephone call on Thursday, July 7, televised live from Malacanang.
When Robredo on the other end of the line accepted the offer, Duterte repled, “Tanggapin mo Ma’am?” (You will accept, Ma’am)?
When she did, Duterte said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea “will hand you the appointment” in time for the “next Cabinet meeting and even on security matters para you’d be kept abreast of what is happening to our country. Just for you to know.”
But 149 days later, on Saturday, December 3, Robredo received a text message that she was no longer welcome in the Cabinet.
“Gd afternoon, Madam Vice President. Mayor Rody Duterte thru Bong Go asked me to relay to you the instruction for you to desist from attending all Cabinet mtngs starting This Monday Dec 5, 2pm. Ty,” Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco said in his text message.
No reason was cited in the text message but Evasco on Sunday cited “irreconcilable differences” in an interview over radio station DZMM
Duterte’s televised phone call to Robredo on July 7 came 37 days after he told a press conference here that he was “non-committal” about giving her a Cabinet post because he did not want to offend his friend, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, who placed second in the vice presidential race.
Marcos filed an electoral protest before the Supreme Court’s Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on June 29, a day before Duterte and Robredo took their oath as President and Vice President, in separate venues.
“Si Leni, she should understand that she belongs to the opposite side. There is no compelling reason for her to be a member of the Cabinet,” he said on May 31. But he added “we are still studying the script of the movie.”
When Duterte phoned her on July 7, Robredo accepted his offer to head the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) with Cabinet rank.
Robredo thanked Duterte for appointing her head of the HUDCC.
“Mas mapaglilingkuran natin ang ating mga kababayang walang tahanan at maipagpapatuloy natin ang ating pangakong itulak ang kaunlaran at kaginhawaan para sa ating mga kapus palad na kababayan” (We can serve better our homeless constituents and continue to push our promised progress and comfort for the least of our fellowmen), Robredo said.
Robredo attended her first Cabinet meeting on July 12, shortly after she was sworn in by the President.
When she tenders her resignation on December 5, she will have served 146 days as Housing Secretary.
In a nine-paragraph statement released at 6 p.m. Sunday, Robredo said the text message from Evasco was “the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties.” (see other story)
“Hence, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016. With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest,” she said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)