President Duterte and Vice President Leni G. Robredo met and shook hands for the first time during a military event in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City yesterday.
Dutere and Robredo’s first public appearance together took place at the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
As he delivered his remarks, the President first acknowledged the presence of Robredo.
“This is my first time to meet you personally. I would have preferred to be seated beside you but nandiyan si Defense (Secretary Delfin Lorenzana),” Duterte said, drawing applause and laughter.
The two held separate inauguration ceremonies on June 30 – Duterte in Malacañang and Robredo at the Quezon City Reception House.
They were supposed to meet in Davao ahead of their inaugurations, but this did not push through because Robredo had to make a trip to Tokyo, Japan for the National Day Celebration of the Filipino Community in Japan.
When asked by reporters after the AFP turnover ceremony, Robredo described her meeting with Duterte as “very cordial.”
“Very cordial ’yung meeting, nagpaalam ako sa kanya (Duterte) kung puwede akong magpa-set ng schedule or a courtesy visit,” she said.
“Sabi niya naman anytime, so pagbalik ko siguro sa office, ’yun ’yung aasikasuhin ko na makapag-set kami ng meeting,” she added.
Meanwhile, Duterte said that he is now working on negotiations with the Leftist and separatist groups to end the decades-old communist and Muslim insurgencies in the country.
“The first job of a president is not to go to war but rather to bring peace to his land,” he said. “Even before I was already proclaimed… before assumption of office, I was busy going around Mindanao and talking to a lot of people to bring about peace in our land,” Duterte said, adding that he started with the Left, whose leaders, including Jose Maria Sison, gave a favorable reply. (ELENA L. ABEN)