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President Duterte did not invite Vice President Leni Robredo to the New Year reception in Malacañang to prevent an awkward situation with his political opponent, according to a Palace official.
“Mag-iinvite ka ba ng tao na di mo kasundo di ba? Mahirap naman, parang awkward,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in an interview with DZMM.
Andanar made the remarks after Robredo was not among the top government officials present during the President’s first ever New Year reception for the diplomatic community last Wednesday.
The Vice President was initially invited to the Palace event but such invitation was reportedly recalled at the last minute due to a limited guest list.
Duterte and Robredo recently had a falling out after she was perceived to be part of the plot seeking to overthrow his government.
Andanar defended that the President has the prerogative to choose the attendants of events at the Palace.
“Syempre prerogative ng Presidente kung sino ang gusto niyang invite. It’s his house, ’yung Malacañang,” he said.
“Syempre ’yung gusto mong i-invite, ’yun ang invite mo. Kung yaw mo ii-invite, e di wala na ta-yong magagawa,” he added.
More than 100 diplomats, Cabinet members, and other senior government officials gathered in the first-ever New Year reception hosted by the President in Malacañang.
Among the envoys present in the Palace event were Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev, and United States Ambassador Sung Kim.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Cynthia Villar, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa were among the top government officials who attended the affair.
The President, in his remarks, has expressed the commitment to build on friendship with existing allies while forging new ones this year. He likewise affirmed his “sacred vow” to continue the fight against drugs, criminality, and corruption during the event. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)