Using the Japanese term for “cheers,” President Duterte raised a glass of cider, urged “Kanpai, bottoms up!” to continued friendships at the traditional reception for diplomats to which Vice President Leni Robredo had been invited but later told not to come.
“You know, in the subdiplomatic gatherings, especially in Asia, we just say kanpai. It’s always bottoms up. So be careful with this, our Asian brothers and sisters. When they say kanpai, say, ‘no, just half of the kanpai,’ he said, to chuckles at his first vin d’honneur in Malacañang on Wednesday.
“We believe that friends help each other and utilize constructive engagement to achieve common goals. In truth, we all share the same aspiration of greater peace, progress and prosperity,” the President said in an exchange of toasts with Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, the Vatican’s envoy and dean of the diplomatic corps.
Robredo’s absence at the reception, attended by Cabinet officials, was reported by
her spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez.
An invitation to the event was sent on Dec. 28, she said. “On Jan. 4, Malacañang called the office to retract the invitation, stating that the guest list was limited.”
Was it a diplomatic faux pas?
“It is a prerogative of the Palace to invite those who they feel is needed to be there,” said Ernesto Abella, Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson.
Robredo, one of the outspoken critics of Mr. Duterte’s war against drugs, resigned as housing secretary after she was told not to attend Cabinet meetings.
She has been accused by Malacañang officials of plotting with the “Yellow” forces of former President Benigno Aquino III to oust Mr. Duterte.
“Usually, disinviting, if it happens, is done quietly,” offered Manolo Quezon, a former Aquino communications undersecretary.
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