Duterte back in Davao City amid break from public eye


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains well and is continuing his “private time” in Davao City, according to Malacañang.

In a press briefing on Friday, June 16, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reassured that the chief executive’s health is no cause for concern, despite his absence from the public eye since this past Monday.

“As far as I know, he’s already in Davao. But he’s — just to assure you, he’s all right,” Abella told reporters.

Duterte, 72,  was last seen in public on Sunday, June 11, when he attended the funeral rites of the Marines slain in the Marawi City siege. He was supposed to lead the country’s 119th Independence Day rites the following day but skipped the event.

Since then, the president has not been spotted at other public events. The schedule for his next public appearance remains unavailable, stirring up speculations that he is sick.

But Abella later clarified that Duterte was ‘‘just taking some time off to rejuvenate” from his “brutal” schedule.

Abella explained that the chief executive was “just tired,” dismissing rumors that Duterte might be suffering from a grave illness.

“The president is well. The president just needs [rest]… After all, you have to consider that he has been on the road for at least 23 days in fulfilling his martial law supervision. So, you know, it has been really brutal so we have to allow him this kind of rest,” the spokesperson maintained.

In an apparent bid to dispel rumors about Duterte’s health, Malacañang recently released two photos of the president.

One of the photo shows Duterte sitting on a table while reviewing some documents. Another photo shows the president standing near a flat screen television with his aide Christopher “Bong” Go.

According to Go, the photos were taken before 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 15.

Another set of photos showing Duterte being welcomed by Philippine Air Force officials was also disseminated. The time was not mentioned but the caption says it was also taken on Thursday, during the president’s visit to Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

‘Transparency’ is a must

Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, demanded specific information regarding the state of Duterte’s health.

In a statement, Senator Leila De Lima stressed that the “public needs to be fully informed” about the president’s health, pointing out that the issue is “both a matter of public interest and national security.”

She then cited the Article VII Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that “in case the president has a serious illness, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”

“Of course, Malacañang is well within the constitutional bounds when it refuses to fully inform the public about the president’s ‘vacation,’ but it is also its moral obligation to go beyond what the Constitution requires. This is called transparency and accountability, two words that are already lost to this administration and its senior cabinet officials,” the detained senator said.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano also called on Malacañang to be “forthright in informing the public” about the matter, noting that the president’s condition is “national issue.”

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat also echoed Alejano’s remark. “The president’s health is a national concern. Transparency is a must,” Baguilat said.

Both Alejano and Baguilat are members of the “Magnificent 7,” an independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, De Lima, who is notably among the fiercest critics of Duterte, is a part of the Liberal Party (LP).

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