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Roque: Nothing political on Robredo’s non-inclusion in ASEAN welcoming rites

In this Nov. 14, 2017 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo delivers speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Solaire Resort in Pasay City. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday explained why Vice President Leni Robredo was not among the government officials who welcomed the world leaders during their arrivals for the Association of the South East Asian Nations’ summit.

Roque denied that Robredo was given limited participation in the ASEAN Summit and explained that only Cabinet members were designated to join the welcoming body at the airports.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

“Was it really limited? My understanding is, it's the alter ego of the president who must meet members apparently the protocol when a president can’t be there, there must be a representative of the president who is his alter ego,” Roque said in mixed Filipino and English in a recorded ambush interview.

Roque cited that Robredo is not a Cabinet member. The vice president resigned as the housing czar in December 2016 just six months in office.

READ: Robredo tenders resignation from Duterte's Cabinet

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The presidential spokesman explained that the administration’s Cabinet served as Duterte's “alter egos.”

“That is why all who welcomed the leaders were all the members of the Cabinet,” Roque said in Filipino.

“Nothing political," he added.

In the previous administrations, the vice president are traditionally delegated to welcome state guests in red carpet welcoming ceremony at the airport.

In 2015, former Vice President Jejomar Binay said that one of the functions of a vice president is to lead the welcoming rites.

“You know, the protocol really there is that the Vice President will greet the heads of state. That is one of my functions,” Binay was quoted prior to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit held in Manila in 2015.

Philstar.com sought for comment of former Ambassador Marciano Paynor, chief of presidential protocol, regarding the welcoming rites practice but there was no response as of writing.

Robredo was also not invited during the gala dinner celebrating the ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.

READ: No gala dinner invite for Leni

Despite this, Robredo attended the opening ceremony of the ASEAN summit at the Philippine International Convention Center last Monday. She also served as the keynote speaker at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Solaire Resort in Pasay City on Tuesday.

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