President Rodrigo Duterte offered on Thursday (July 8) Vice President Leni Robredo to lead the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) through an impromptu phone call during a live Palace broadcast.
Robredo accepted the HUDCC post, saying steering the agency would enable her to fulfill her promise to help those in the fringes of society.
President Duterte’s phoned Robredo to offer a Cabinet post during government stattion PTV-4’s live broadcast amid “persistent” questions from the media.
“Ma’am Leni…good afternoon. Nandito ako sa opisina ngayon. Tinatanong ako ni Rocky Ignacio sa Malacanang Press kung bibigyan ko raw kayo ng pwesto sa Gabinete. ’Yon ang tanong n’ya. P’wede kong sagutin?” Duterte told Robredo during the live phone conversation.
Robredo apparently said yes, and was told that the “executive secretary will hand you the appointment.”
Duterte had met the Vice President only recently during the turnover rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Duterte’s decision to offer Robredo a position in the Cabinet contradicted his statement right after the May elections that he would not give any Cabinet position to Robredo because he does not want to hurt the feelings of Bongbong Marcos, Robredo’s closest rival in the VP race and Duterte’s friend.
“Reconciliation need not come from an appointment [for Robredo]. There is no compelling reason for me to accommodate the VP. I am sorry. Leni must understand that she belongs to the opposite side [of the political fence],” the President said last May 31.
Robredo ran for the vice presidential seat under the Liberal Party, former president Aquino’s political party.
With her appointment as housing czar, Robredo has been challenged by a militant group to prioritize affordable public housing to poor families and stop demolitions of communities.
“If we are truly to see change coming to the country, then housing as a service should be prioritized over the involvement of private developers in so called socialized housing. We lauded the late Jesse Robredo for his recognition of our rights to the city, for the city to be geared towards fulfilling the needs of all its inhabitants,” Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) said in a statement.