MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III went on sick leave Thursday, skipping the inauguration of the Aluling Bridge in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, which took 35 years to complete.
The culprit: His allergy to pollen.
The President had an allergy attack on Tuesday after attending the Philippine National Police anniversary at the PNP multipurpose center in Camp Crame.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda suspected that the “floral arrangement” at the air-conditioned venue may have triggered the allergy.
“So just to clarify, it’s not because of coughing, it’s because of an allergy,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.
He said the President was resting at Bahay Pangarap, his official residence, after taking allergy medication.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters the President “has an adverse reaction when he is exposed to many flowers at close proximity.”
Valte said Mr. Aquino had a similar allergic reaction during a state visit to Australia last year, when he was forced to miss an official function.
The condition is so serious that floral arrangements at the presidential palace are positioned in “strategic places” to prevent them from setting off the president’s allergy, according to Valte.
Viel Aquino-Dee, one of the President’s sisters, together with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, led the inauguration of the P191.3 million Aluling Bridge.
Reading from a prepared message that was to be delivered by the President, Aquino-Dee said the new bridge would speed up the movement of goods to and from the Ilocos and Cordillera regions, and provide tourists easy access to Gambang Falls and Yamashita Cave in Ilocos Sur.
Considered the “longest bridge” in the Philippines—not in terms of length but in terms of the number of years it took to complete—the 180-meter Aluling bridge was completed by the Aquino administration after 35 years of planning and construction. With an AFP report