President Rodrigo Duterte’s health is “as good as anyone of his age”, Malacañang said Tuesday quashing speculations that the President’s temporary absence in the initial government briefings on its response to Super Typhoon Rolly was due to any health condition.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s decision to visit residents in Guinobatan, Albay is proof that he is able to perform his duties as the country’s highest elected official.
“He is as good as anyone of his age ‘no. Nakita ninyo naman iyan, siguro naman hindi siya makakapunta sa Guinobatan kung hindi mabuti po ang kalusugan ng ating Presidente (You see, perhaps he won’t be able to go to Guinobatan if he wasn’t in good health),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked if Duterte’s photographs of not wearing his face mask were accidental, Roque did not directly answer the question but emphasized the importance of his presence there.
Roque said the President insisted to visit Guinobatan despite knowing the risk of being exposed to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Kung natanggal man iyong mask niya, siyempre po eh iyong danger niyon ay na kay Presidente. Pero hindi po niya natiis ang mga Bicolano, pinuntahan po niya at siyempre he exposed himself to the threat of Covid-19 pero gayunpaman siya po ay Presidente at nais niyang ipakita (If his mask was removed, of course he would be in danger. But he could not resist Bicolanos, he visited them and exposed himself to the threat of Covid-19 but nevertheless the President wants to show them) that government is there to assist them,” he said.
In a Cabinet meeting aired over PTV-4 on Monday, Duterte himself explained his absence in the first two briefings on government’s response to the typhoon at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), saying he was only “waiting for the typhoon to pass”.
Duterte also said he spent the weekend in Davao City before the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Roque said Duterte might have been “irritated” by critics asking “Nasaan ang Pangulo (Where is the President)?”, since concerned government agencies were already on red alert to provide relief and response for families affected by the typhoon.
“Now, siguro nairita si Presidente. Ano bang gusto ng mga kritiko niya na lalabas siya sa kalye habang bumabagyo? That’s pointless po dahil nagawa na po ni Presidente ang dapat gawin, hinanda na po ang lahat ng departamento at ahensiya ng gobyerno (Perhaps the President was irritated. What do critics want, that he go outside while it’s raining? That’s pointless because the President did what he needed to go, all departments and agencies of government were readied),” he said.
He said there was “nothing wrong” with looking for the President on the onslaught of the typhoon.
“I guess there’s nothing wrong with that pero alam ninyo naman po, may malice na pagtanong iyan dahil iyan iyong mga kritiko na kahit anong gawin ni Presidente, hindi po, walang mabuting nakikita sa ginagawa ni Presidente. Bahala na po sila (but you know, there’s malice in the way they ask because critics, no matter what the President does, they don’t see anything good),” he said.
Citing an October Pulse Asia survey result, Roque stood by Duterte’s high performance and trust rating, both at 91 percent while only 5 percent of Filipinos disapproved of his performance.
“Anyway, they (critics) comprised 5 percent of the population and we will convert them still, huwag po kayong mag-alala (don’t worry),” he said. (PNA)