President Duterte raises his glass for a toast with the diplomatic corps led by Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto during the vin d’honneur at Malacañang on Wednesday. The president vowed to pursue ‘constructive alliances and new friendships’ with other countries.
The STAR/File
Palace: Vin d’honneur guest list limited for simplicity
Rosette Adel (philstar.com) - January 12, 2017 - 12:29pm

MANILA, Philippines – A Palace spokesperson on Thursday stressed that the number of guests, and even co-hosts, vin d’ honneur at Malacañan Palace was limited to keep things simple.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained that the vin d’ honneur is a New Year’s reception traditionally hosted by the president and by high-ranking government officials.

Abella, however, said that since President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to fulfill his dictum of simplicity, the New Year’s toast co-hosts were limited only to the Cabinet secretaries, Senate president and House speaker.

He noted that, in the past, past presidents were also invited to the event, but that it was only attended by the diplomatic corps this year.

“It was a simple and meaningful event. The president expressed to the ambassadors and foreign officials present the value he placed on friendship and relationship with leaders and nations; and His Excellency Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto,head of the diplomatic corps, expressed their sentiments and wishes for [the president]'s well being,” Abella said in a press statement.

“It was an auspicious start to what should be a progressive and opportunity filled year,” he added.

The presidential spokesperson released the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo's spokesperson said that her office received an invitation to the vin d'honneur  on December 28 but Malacañang later on retracted the invitation on January 5.  The reason given for the retraction was a limited guest list.

Robredo resigned from Duterte’s Cabinet on Dec. 4, 2016 after she was asked to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings. She said that she cannot fulfill her duties housing chief if she is barred from attending the meetings.

Duterte, in a televised interview, said that Robredo had joined rallies calling for his ouster.

There have been no rallies calling for Duterte to step down. However, there were protests against the November burial of the remains of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Robredo did not attend those rallies but was at a separate event in commemoration of Martial Law victims.

She has repeatedly said that she is not part of any ouster plot and that unseating another president would be bad for the Philippines.

The two highest-ranking officials of the country have yet to meet since the vice president's resignation from the Cabinet.

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE VICE PRESIDENT LENI ROBREDO
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