Vice President Leni Robredo still will not be “acting President” when President Rodrigo Duterte leaves for a state visit in Vietnam from Sept.28 to 29.
Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Executive Secretary Salvador Bingbong Medialdea,who is Duterte’s childhood friend and son of former Associate Justice Leo D. Medialdea, will be the country’s caretaker during Duterte’s absence.
When the President is out of the country, a caretaker officer is usually assigned to oversee matters until the President’s return. Usually, the caretaker officer may be the executive secretary, often called the ‘Little President,’ or the Vice President.
Andanar said the President will likely visit some Filipino communities in Vietnam.
“Oo, ang alam ko lang ho ay mayroong naka-schedule tentatively na meeting with the Filipino communities,” said Andanar, adding that the President will likely have several business organizations in his delegation for Vietnam.
Andanar said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is scheduled to accompany Duterte during the working visit.
“Ang nakakasiguro lang po ako ay kasama natin si Secretary Mon Lopez at mayroon pong inihanda si Secretary Mon Lopez na programa na may kinalaman po sa kanyang departamento,” Andanar said.
Duterte already flew to Vientiane, Laos earlier this month to attend the ASEAN Summit.
He was originally scheduled to visit Brunei first but it was cancelled following thedeadly blast at a night market in Davao City, where Duterte was a longtime mayor.
It will be recalled that Duterte talked with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the sidelines of the first day of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Laos.
The two leaders discussed the issues surrounding the South China Sea where both countries have territorial disputes with China.
On the South China Sea issue, the two sides agreed that there must be freedom of navigation.
Both the Philippines and Vietnam have ongoing territorial disputes with China over parts of the South China Sea.
In the same bilateral meeting, the Vietnamese Prime Minister assured President Duterte of his commitment to continuously supply the Philippines with rice.
Both the Philippines and Vietnam hope to see a stronger relationship, especially in areas such as the economy, trade, and tourism as well as cultural exchanges.
Meanwhile, Trade Secretary Lopez confirmed that President Duterte will be visiting Japan soon.
Though plans were still being finalized, Lopez said the working visit to Japan may happen late October.
Lopez said the visit will be aimed at pushing for “greater trade activities.”
It can be recalled that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had invited Duterte when they met during the ASEAN summit in Vientiane.
Last month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay also said there were plans for a Beijing trip for the President before the year ends.
Duterte said he plans to demand that China respect the rights of Filipinos to fish in the West Philippine Sea.