PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will be marking his first year as chief executive on Friday, June 30 with a visit to the besieged city of Marawi after his initial scheduled visit was canceled due to bad weather.
Speaking during the 120th Founding Anniversary of the Presidential Security Group, Duterte insisted that he needs to visit Marawi City since clashes between government forces and the Maute group and other rebels erupted there last May 23.
“I want to go to Marawi. I think I will go there on Friday. It’s too late in the day to be hesitating to go there. I will go there,” he said.
If he runs out of luck, “then I’ll return back here in cargo, in C-130,” the President said.
The President had to cancel his visit to the city on June 8 due to bad weather that day, which could have prevented his aircraft from landing safely.
Duterte instead flew from Davao City to Cagayan de Oro to visit wounded troops at the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Barangay Patag.
The President placed the entire Mindanao under martial law due to the clashes between government forces and local terrorists, which have left over 200 dead and trapped around 2,000 residents.
Should anything happen to him, Duterte told Filipinos to follow the constitutional path of succession and support Vice President Leni Robredo as he twitted those who continue to question his well-being.
In a speech during the 120th Founding Anniversary of the Presidential Security Group, Duterte jested that a pretender to the throne, lawyer Elly Pamatong, already proclaimed himself president in his place after he reportedly got sick, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
“There is a pretender to the throne. Assuming that I die within …. Maybe tomorrow, next month, there are two claimants to the presidency. The one has already organized and he claimed that he has deposed me. Presidential candidate Pamatong,” Duterte said.
Duterte however, pointed out that according to the Constitution, his rightful successor is Vice President Leni Robredo.
Robredo however, still faces an election protest from losing vice presidential candidate former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In a viral video, Pamatong said he already assumed the presidency after Duterte skipped the Independence Day rites, saying the President already died or was dying.
Duterte also poked fun at those who had been spreading news he was “in coma” but nonetheless pointed out the possibility that anything could happen to him.
He singled out former senator Francisco Tatad, a columnist for the Manila Times, as the possible source of the rumors.
“Tatad probably said that. Maybe he’s the one who should go baric, because until now, the infection he suffered when he was circumcised has not healed. Stupid son-of-a-bitch,” he said in Filipino.
Questions about Duterte’s health were first raised when he missed out on Independence Day rites on June 12 and stayed out of sight until June 16.
The President was again absent from the public eye from June 21 to 25, but on June 26 (Tuesday) he resumed his public engagements.
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