No rift in Cabinet, Andanar tells Ramos

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

MANILA — They don’t always see eye to eye, but members of President Duterte’s official family have good relations with each other, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Even the spouses of Cabinet members are working together, Andanar said.
Andanar came to the defense of Cabinet members following comment from former President Fidel Ramos that Mr. Duterte’s official family was “not yet organized as one Philippine team.”

At the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia forum on Tuesday, Ramos said, “We must have a comprehensive appreciation of the nation’s problems and we must proceed on a broad front with everybody participating.”

Andanar said Malacañang appreciated Ramos’ comments and considered itself fortunate to have a former President and statesman providing unsolicited advice and constructive criticism, as well as analyzing the things happening in the country.

He said he was reluctant to judge the performance of the President’s alteregos as he was a Cabinet member himself, but did say that interaction between the Cabinet members has been positive.

“It’s great. We all know each other,” Andanar said in an ambush interview in Taguig City, adding that even the spouses of Cabinet members were working together on an antidrug project.

Cabinet members include elementary and law school classmates of Mr. Duterte, as well as leftist activists.

They may not always be of one mind, but members of the President’s official family are able to work together despite differences of opinion, Andanar further said.

One issue on which the Cabinet officials differed in their stance was the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change that would commit the Philippines to lower carbon emission targets, Andanar recalled.

The matter was tackled in a recent Cabinet meeting and divergent views were aired, he said.

“We all had our own ideas about the Paris Agreement and the President allowed us [to share these], and in the end, the President decided to sign it after listening to the arguments of everyone,” he said.

Mr. Duterte encourages discourse during meetings, and lets them voice out their opinions on issues, he added.

Ramos, whom Mr. Duterte credited for convincing him to run in the May presidential elections, has been critical of the first 100 days of the administration and has chided the President for missing key events in an international economic summit.

The former President has also called out Mr. Duterte for his foul mouth, saying he should clean up his language.