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Leni takes bus ride back to Naga

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - She took the bus home when she was a mayor’s wife and a congresswoman, and now that she is the vice president, Leni Robredo still intends to take the bus back to her hometown in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Last Friday, together with her children, staff and security personnel, Robredo left Metro Manila and spent the night aboard a bus en route to Naga City.

Security concerns were raised over such trips after Robredo won the vice presidential race. But her staff said that she and her family have adequate security with them during the trip.

Speaking to reporters in her hometown yesterday where she was set to attend a series of activities, Robredo admitted that her trips would not be as often as before, as it would be costly for her office.

Explaining her decision to ride the bus, the Vice President said taking the plane would entail similar security preparations but would have been more expensive.

“They have a required number (of security personnel) who should be with us. When I learned about it, I said let’s just take a bus because it is cheaper. If they allowed me to take the plane without company, I will take the plane. But whether I take the plane or the bus, I need to have someone with me,” Robredo said.

Robredo’s late husband Jesse, former mayor of Naga City and interior and local government secretary, used to take the bus to their home province to save money and to spend time with the other commuters.

On Friday, Robredo met President Duterte for the first time during the military’s turnover of command at the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ headquarters in Quezon City.

Asked about the meeting, Robredo admitted she felt relieved that the Chief Executive did not ignore her.

“I was expecting the worst, that he would ignore me. I was preparing myself for it,” Robredo told reporters in Filipino. 

“…I had apprehensions... (But) he was nice the entire time,” she added. 

Following their victory in the May 9 elections, Duterte appeared to have shunned the Vice President, with his team requesting for a separate inauguration due to space limitations at the venue in Malacañang. 

He also declined to give her a Cabinet post, saying he did not want to hurt Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who lost by a small margin to Robredo. 

“I am really happy,” she said when asked about the photos that showed her smiling widely beside the President. “I think it manifested my happiness that my fears (of being ignored) did not happen and the meeting exceeded expectations.”

The Vice President said the conversation was light and cordial, recalling an instance when the President offered his coco water to her, an exchange that was photographed and received positively online. 

Robredo said she was hopeful that the meeting would be a first step toward harmonious and cordial relations between the two of them being the father and mother of the nation.

Saying their teams are currently discussing a formal meeting at the soonest possible time, Robredo noted: “For the country,  I think we need to have a healthy working relationship.”

But despite the icebreaker, Robredo said she still does not expect to have a Cabinet post under the Duterte administration. 

“I am ready that I won’t have a post. In fact, we already have a lot of discussions with the private sector,” she said. 

Robredo said they are eyeing the establishment of satellite offices in several parts of the country to streamline the provision of services to Filipinos.

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