By snubbing Robredo, Duterte is ignoring the example set by his predecessors

By snubbing Robredo, Duterte is ignoring the example set by his predecessors

With less than three weeks to go before he assumes office, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has remained steadfast in not giving Vice President-elect Leni Robredo any position in the cabinet. According to him, he cannot give Robredo any post because it will hurt his alliance with outgoing Senator Bongbong Marcos, who lost the VP race by about 250,000 votes.

The 1987 Constitution does not spell out any specific duties for the Vice President, except from saying that its officeholder should assume the presidency if the incumbent dies in office, resigns, gets impeached, or becomes permanently disable.

Nevertheless, it is an established precedent for Vice Presidents to get cabinet posts regardless of their party affiliation. After all, they possess the same basic qualifications as the president and that they’ve been elected in their own right. In the case of Robredo, for example, over 14 million Filipinos voted for her.

leni robredo cabinet post
Will Duterte ignore historical precedent by not giving Robredo a cabinet post?

Below is a list of past Vice Presidents and the cabinet post they handled:

Sergio Osmena (1935 to 1944)
– Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare
Elpidio Quirino (1946 to 1948) – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Fernando Lopez (1949 to 1953) – Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Carlos P. Garcia (1953 to 1957) – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Emmanuel Pelaez (1961 to 1963) –  Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Fernando Lopez (1965 to 1971) – Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Salvador Laurel (1986 to 1987) – Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Joseph Estrada (1992 to 1997) – Chairman, Philippine Anti-Crime Commission
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (1998 to 2000) – Secretary of Social Welfare and Development
Teofisto Guingona (2001 to 2002) –  Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Noli de Castro (2004 to 2010) –  Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers/
Chair, Housing and Urban Development Council
Jejomar Binay (2010 to 2016) – Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers/
Chair, Housing and Urban Development Council

It must be noted that Diosdado Macapagal is the only Vice President who was not given a cabinet post during the Garcia administration because he was a Liberal while the President was a Nacionalista. As modern-day history books now recount it, Macapagal used the time to go around the country and denounce President Garcia over corruption issues. By 1961, the two men competed for the presidency and Macapagal won the race.

Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Benigno Aquino III all gave cabinet posts to their respective Vice Presidents even if they belonged to another party. Will Duterte really turn Robredo into a spare tire? The next few weeks will be exciting.


1) Winning Vice Presidents do not always get what they want. De Castro, for instance, had to ultimately decline Arroyo’s offer for him to be DSWD Secretary when civil society groups lobbied hard for the retention of Dinky Soliman (never mind that she resigned the job a year later). Binay, for his part, wanted to lead the Department of Interior and Local Government but Aquino instead chose to appoint Leni’s late husband, then-Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo.

2) Even if a winning President and Vice President come from the same party, a falling-out somewhere along the way is possible. Pelaez, for instance, resigned as foreign affairs secretary in 1963 when he bolted the ruling Liberal Party. Laurel, for his part, left the same job less than a year into Aquino’s term. That’s also the case with Guingona, who left the Arroyo cabinet (or was he forced to resign?) when he opposed the continued presence of American troops in the Philippines.

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Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

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