Or so it appeared when President Rodrigo Duterte finally met Vice President Leni Robredo at the AFP change of command ceremony.
It was providential that Robredo decided to attend despite her apprehensions of being snubbed for it softened the heart of Duterte and erased whatever indifference and cynicism he had for the woman vice president.
It showed on his face, in his comportment and in his gestures that Duterte has accepted her as the vice president and that he has to contend with it as much as the people wants him to.
There is no doubt that the people loved it, amused even at the way Robredo was laughing, maybe, at his comments or at his jokes, for we all know that while Duterte has his serious moments, he can be wacky, too.
Brief the meeting was perhaps, but the light moments they spent together on the stage and in the presence of very important people augured well for the country.
This feeling of good will, acceptance and respect could not have been authenticated more than by Duterte’s warm welcome of Robredo, when the latter made a courtesy call on him in Malacañang.
Slowly Duterte is getting to know Robredo better and for what she stands for – her advocacy on food security, health, rural development, education and people empowerment, and her call on the people to rally behind the Duterte administration for the good of the nation, I don’t think the president will just allow his very able vice president to be left just floating.
“The best path at least for my office now is to work with the private sector, create collaborations and partnerships and synergies that will maximize both the resources of government and of the private sector,” she said.
This is one statement of Robredo that should bother Duterte’s conscience and would impel him to extend a helping hand to the former to facilitate and even hasten the improvement in the quality of life of the poor Filipinos.
“Ako po bilang pangalawang pangulo (As the vice president), I believe that the number one responsibility now is to help rally everyone behind the new administration. This administration deserves our support. Hindi naman po ito para kay President Duterte lamang pero para ito sa sambayanang Pilipinas (This is not for Duterte alone but for the people of the Philippines),” she said.
This is not, therefore, about giving Robredo a Cabinet position to be able to fully harness her capabilities. This is not even about party politics.
Rather, this is about realizing that assisting Robredo in her worthy causes will complement effectively Duterte’s program and direction for the country and its people.
It is also realizing that while Duterte’s friend, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is there simply for vindicating their name for their own selfish and scandalous interests, Robredo is there to help Duterte make the Philippines, the land of his birth, a nation that is peaceful, stable and progressive, the way he envisions it to be, because she believes in his leadership.