Palace defends face mask-less Duterte during Guinobatan visit
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte after he was seen without his face mask on while conferring with residents of Guinobatan, Albay, one of the areas badly-hit by super typhoon Rolly.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the president merely wanted to show that the government is ready to assist Albay folk affected by the typhoon, even if it meant exposing himself to the threat of COVID-19.
Pictures of Duterte without his face mask on were provided by the Office of Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, longtime aide of the President who accompanied him during an aerial survey of the Bicol region.
After the aerial inspection, Duterte appeared before residents of Guinobatan, Albay where he was seen with his face mask removed and dangling from one ear.
Wearing of face masks is one of the government’s key health protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Hindi ko po alam kung ‘yan ay intentional o talagang natanggal lang. Pero ang importante po, nakarating doon sa Guinobatan, isa sa talaga namang sinalanta ng bagyong Rolly, ang Presidente,” Roque said when asked why Duterte removed his face mask during his visit to the Albay town.
(I’m not sure if that was intentional or it was accidentally removed. But what is important is that the President went to Guinobatan which was among the areas badly hit by Typhoon Rolly.)
“At kung natanggal man ‘yung mask niya, syempre po e ‘yung danger non ay na kay Presidente pero hindi po natiis ang mga Bicolano, pinuntahan po niya at syempre he exposed himself to the threat of COVID-19. Pero gayunpaman, siya po’y Presidente, nais niyang ipakita that government is there to assist them,” he added.
(Even if his mask was removed, the danger is at the President but he cannot bear not to see Bicolanos, he went there and exposed himself to the threat of COVID-19. Nonetheless, he is the President and he wanted to show the government is there to assist them.)
Asked about the President’s health, Roque gave assurance that Duterte was as well as “anyone of his age.”
Duterte’s absence in the Sunday briefing of key government officials on Typhoon Rolly was questioned by many, prompting the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo to top trending topics on Twitter.