A potential breaking up of the camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte this early has been prevented by a simple apology to one of the key supporters of the country’s presumptive new leader.
In a news conference on Friday, Peter Laviña, Duterte’s transition team spokesman, said the presumptive President’s inability to meet with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy was “not intentional.”
Followers of Quiboloy, a highly influential religious leader, had complained that the pastor seemed to have been blocked off by new people around Duterte.
“Hopefully, we can extend our apology to Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy… These [supposed instances when Quiboloy tried but failed to meet with Duterte]are not intentional,” Laviña told reporters in Davao City of which the presumptive President is mayor.
“We wanted to accommodate everyone and of course we want to consult everyone. This is a continuing process. We are barely one week [old]only,” he said.
Laviña explained that Duterte’s camp was simply overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers and that was why not everyone could be entertained.
“Things happened [that we were telling ourselves that] the City Mayor’s Office staff apparently were overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers. We did not expect that so many and they [staff]were not prepared,” he said.
“Meron talagang hindi na-entertain [There were those who really had not been entertained] and we received this feedback and we are happy that we are receiving this feedback so they can,” Laviña added.
Nonetheless, Laviña said since Duterte and Quiboloy are good friends, the two can move on from the apparent misunderstanding.
“They are good friends. They have been friends for a long time. I’m sure they can find a way to meet as soon as possible, not only as friends. The mayor may want to consult Pastor Quiboloy on some of the nominees [for Cabinet and other posts]he has already named and some who are not yet named,” he said.
For his Energy chief, Duterte is considering former Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) chief Alfonso Cusi, according to the incoming leader’s spokesman, Lawyer Salvador Panelo also on Friday confirmed to media Cusi’s pending appointment.
A vice chairman of the incoming ruling party PDP-Laban, the CAAP head was Manila International Airport Authority general manager before his stint in the aviation authority.
He is a known political ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was widely believed to have been forced out of his position when President Benigno Aquino 3rd assumed office in 2010.
Duterte also plans to appoint former acting Justice secretary Jose Calida as solicitor general.
Calida was a former undersecretary at the Department of Justice.
Quiboloy had said some people now close to the mayor “elbowed out” those who were with the President-elect since Day One.
“Pastor Quiboloy has no interest whatsoever in the Duterte government. He is not after favors or perks. What the good pastor did not like was the fact that he is no longer being consulted. Not even a word since Duterte emerged as the most likely winner on May 10, the day after the elections,” Miguel Abe, Quiboloy’s appointed spokesman, told The Manila Times.
“Worse, as early as 2 a.m. of May 10, [Duterte] could no longer be reached either by phone or anything. Access to him was cordoned off by this innermost circle,” he said.
Abe clarified that Quiboloy only felt insulted that the pastor, while being the mayor’s spiritual adviser and top endorser, seemed “no longer needed” by Duterte.