Duterte’s HK trip: To celebrate partner’s birthday with daughter
(Editor’s note: We’ve updated this story to correct that Christopher “Bong” Go resigned from his post as Special Assistant to the President to pursue his candidacy for the Senate in the May elections.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has sneaked out of the country again, flying to Hong Kong on Friday night with his partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, and their teenage daughter, Veronica.
In a text message to reporters on Sunday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Chief Executive and his family traveled to Hong Kong to celebrate Avanceña’s birthday.
The President’s former longtime aide, Christopher “Bong” Go, shared with reporters a picture showing Avanceña blowing the candle on her cake as the President watched.
Go, who travels with the President even after resigning from his post as Special Assistant to the President to pursue his candidacy for the Senate, described the presidential family’s travel to Hong Kong as a “personal trip.”
He said it was Veronica, nicknamed Kitty, who requested the trip from her father “as a gift.”
“The weekend getaway is for rest and recreation,” Go said.
He said Mr. Duterte had named Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as officer in charge during his absence.
The President was due back home on Sunday, he added.
The President left without an announcement from Malacañang, amid fresh talk about his health.
Campaigning for his party’s senatorial candidates in Bulacan province on Thursday, the President threatened to slap former Sen. Francisco Tatad for claiming in his newspaper column last week that he had cancer and had a successful kidney transplant at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City on Jan. 29.
Tatad’s claim came after word had spread through the internet that the President missed an event in Leyte province because he had died.
That was clearly a joke, but it was also the worst conjecture about the President’s health after Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison reported in August last year that the President missed two events because he had slipped into a coma.
Such speculation keeps arising from the President’s dropping out of public sight, often retreating to his hometown of Davao City to rest.
But he always reemerges none the worse for the exertions demanded by his job.
In October last year, the President also flew out unannounced to spend a weekend with his family in Hong Kong, days after he had sparked speculation about his health by reporting that he had undergone tests for colon cancer.
Days later, the President reported to his Cabinet that his tests had returned negative.
He has publicly admitted to be suffering from Buerger’s disease, a condition that causes the constriction of blood vessels, and Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
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