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EDITORIAL - Strange way of getting Leni on board

(The Freeman) - July 11, 2016 - 12:00am

It was probably the strangest presidential appointment ever made - that of President Duterte naming Vice President Leni Robredo as housing secretary - one which those who failed to catch it live on government station PTV 4 may not likely see ever, as apparently the video clip showing how it transpired has been edited out of the rest of the video, whose other highlight was the naming by the president of three suspected drug lords and their protector.

As to what can only be the strangest presidential appointment ever made, not just here but anywhere in the world, here is how it went: Sometime during the presscon, possibly prior to the drug syndicate expose, President Duterte was asked about Vice President Robredo and whether he would ever get around to taking her into his Cabinet.

Now, the backgrounder for this is, of course, the insistence of Duterte not to give Robredo any Cabinet position, she being a member of the party that gave him the most trouble during the campaign. But after the two officials met twice after formally assuming office, encounters that were unanimously described as cordial, it became the consensus of many that it would just be a matter of time before Duterte relents and make Robredo a part of his official family.

And so, on the day of the presscon, and after the lady reporter again prodded Duterte about Robredo, the president, either genuinely flustered or just feigning to be so, told the reporter, in words to this effect: There you go again, you never leave me alone. Everytime we get to face each other you ask me the same question over and over. I am getting tired of all this.

Then Duterte asked the reporter if she was friends with Robredo. When she answered yes, the president asked if she had her number. She answered again in the affirmative, to which the president said, again in words to this effect: Okay then, so that we can put an end to this, can you call her right now and tell her that I want to talk to her?

The reporter was not shown calling the vice president but when she had her on the line, she gave her phone to the president. And right then and there Duterte asked Robredo if she was willing to be his housing secretary. Only Duterte's part of the conversation was audible but it became apparent from what he was saying that Robredo accepted the position. The closing part of Duterte's conversation with Robredo involved him telling her to report right away for the next Cabinet meeting.

And that is today. Today will be the first day that Robredo will be attending her first Cabinet meeting under the Duterte administration. But of all those expected to be in attendance, hers will have come by way of the strangest route there ever was, and might ever be. Only a Duterte could have made such a thing happen under the strangest of circumstances. No wonder the video clip of the episode has been edited out.

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