BY ROGER M. BALANZA
President Rodrigo Duterte loses focus on serious discussion on the woes of the nation during his meetings with his Cabinet, because of Vice President Leni Robredo and her shapely legs.
I kept looking at her legs, joked Duterte, who adds that the happy distraction happened in the past when Robredo would sit by his side during the Cabinet meetings.
Duterte said Robredo noticed that her legs were attracting him and would pull over her skirt to her exposed knees.
I told Leni that he would rather like her wearing shorts to the Cabinet meetings, said Duterte.
Apparently, Robredo thought that her legs were becoming a presidential distraction, and would abandon her seat beside the President.
She now sits across me, said Duterte, who capped up his jesting mood by belting a line from a Tagalog hit, one of his favorites: Malayo ang tingin…..
The joke was repeatedly met with loud guffaws by the huge crowd in Tacloban City on November 8 that attended the 3rdanniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
The President and Robredo were the guests of honor in the event.
Pushing his joke farther, Duterte asked Robredo, widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, if she now has a boyfriend.
If you have, I will shoot him so that you will be a widow twice over, said Duterte, in Pilipino, drawing another round of laughter.
The government’s Philippine News Agency in a report said the serious part of Duterte’s speech earned praises from the ‘Yolanda’ survivors. Survivors in coastal communities badly hit by super typhoon Yolanda welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to move them to permanent homes as early as next month.
In the past two years, single mother Marilyn Singh, 51, and her children and grandchildren have been staying in a bunkhouse. She commended the President for giving attention to them.
“I agree with Duterte. Why delay the housing projects if funds have already been available?” she asked.
Lucia Etolle, 61, shares a room with 10 other family members in the same bunkhouse made out of coconut lumber and plywood.
She lauded the Chief Executive for being apologetic to the plight of survivors, who are compelled to stay in low lying coastal communities and makeshift houses.
“Suffering for nearly three years is too much. We really want to move to a new house with own toilet, stable water supply, and electricity,” said Etolle, who earns meager income from tailoring.
Weeks after super typhoon hit central Philippines, the government built bunkhouses for displaced families. Each unit is divided into 24 rooms for each family. The room measures 8.64 square meters — roughly the size of two Ping-Pong tables.
The two mothers are among the 50 families still living in bunkhouses built in a government-owned lot in the city’s Kalipayan village.
These families are scheduled for transfer to housing projects in the northern part of the city funded by an international non-government organization.
In San Roque village, Tanauan, Leyte several families opted to stay in makeshift houses built near the shoreline even after the turnover of permanent housing units to them.
“Living here is more convenient. It’s closer to the sea where we earn about Php 300 daily from fishing. What’s the point of having a new home if we have nothing to eat?” asked Yiyi Quista, 44, a mother of five.
“With the President’s order, I am positive that concerned government agencies will address the livelihood aspect of relocation,” she added.
During the 3rd Yolanda anniversary on Tuesday, Duterte asked concern agencies to fast track the assistance to survivors, especially housing-related concerns.
“I am not satisfied. In three years only few families were transferred to their permanent houses. The national offices, the respective departments, they’re only given one month to process the paper and it must be out,” the President said.
On Tuesday, thousands of Yolanda survivors converged in town plazas and mass grave sites to celebrate resilience and remember those who perished when the super typhoon battered central Philippines three years ago. With PNA/ RMA/SQM/Ana Rose Cinco, Jushua Marga & Aldwin John Cadayong (OJTs)