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How’s Duterte? Photo sent to DOT chief puts issue to bed

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:13 AM May 05, 2019
PHOTOCOURTESY OF TOURISM SECRETARY BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOURISM SECRETARY BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT

NADI, Fiji — A photograph that President Duterte sent via Viber to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Saturday should quash widespread speculations about the state of his health.

The photo showed the President relaxing at home in Davao City while watching Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” on Netflix.

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“Bakit, masama bang manuod ng Netflix? Sabado naman (What’s wrong with watching Netflix? It’s a Saturday after all),”  Puyat quoted the President’s response to her query on his whereabouts that was prompted by three Filipino journalists interviewing her on the sidelines of the 52nd annual meeting of the Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank in this Pacific island-country.

Puyat had earlier texted the President the question foremost on the mind of most Filipinos this week when the Chief Executive disappeared from the public eye after attending the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa in Davao City last Sunday.

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‘Hello, mayor…’

Around 12 noon Philippine time, in the middle of her interview with the Filipino reporters, Puyat excused herself when her cell phone started playing the theme song of the 1981 British film “Chariots of Fire.” It turned out to be her ring tone for the President.

“Sorry, it’s the President calling. ‘Hello, mayor…,’” Puyat said as she rushed outside the Westin suite where the interview was ongoing.

The call lasted eight to nine minutes, with the tourism official overheard telling the President, “Ipapakita ko sa kanilang tatlo (I’ll show it to the three reporters),” before hanging up.

The President will be sending her a Viber photo that she can show them, Puyat told her interviewers.

Newspapers within reach

Some 20 minutes later, the photo came through. It showed the President in bed watching a movie on Netflix, which Assistant Tourism Secretary Howard Lance Uyking later identified as the 2012 movie “Django Unchained.”

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Copies of Saturday’s newspapers were spread around the President.

Aside from “Django Unchained,” a movie about a bounty hunter who makes it his life mission to hunt down the South’s most notorious criminals, the President also told Puyat that he loved watching “Breaking Bad” on the streaming site.

The award-winning series tells of a mild-mannered chemistry professor who turns to mixing and selling drugs after learning he was stricken with cancer. Desperate, he decides to make the most of his remaining days to provide for his destitute family using the only skills he has.

In Davao City, former Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte addressed speculations about his father’s health by saying the President was “stronger than a carabao.”

Stronger than a carabao

“Kusgan pa sa kabaw akong amahan. Lagsik pa kaayo (My father is stronger than a carabao. He is still very sprightly),” the younger Duterte posted on Facebook.

The President’s son spoke up after his father’s critics continued to express doubt on earlier assurances from presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo and longtime presidential aide Bong Go that the 74-year-old President was just resting at home after a gruelling schedule during his four-day trip to China from April 24 to 27.

Go told the Inquirer by phone on Friday night that Mr. Duterte would be flying back to Manila on Monday to attend to his other engagements, including a Cabinet meeting.

In an apparent dig at Mr. Duterte’s critics, Paolo posted:  “Don’t you worry. You will convulse to death ahead of Digong. Just go ahead, we’re fine with it,” Paolo wrote.

The President’s long and frequent absences from public events have fueled speculations he might have fallen seriously ill.

Soon after taking office in 2016, Mr. Duterte admitted suffering from Buerger’s disease, back pains and constant migraines, citing his early smoking habit and a motorcycle accident. —With a report from Frinston Lim

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TAGS: Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Rodrigo Duterte
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