Robredo’s spokesperson thankful for Duterte’s reappearance as it ended rumors
MANILA, Philippines — Barry Guiterrez, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo, is thankful that President Rodrigo Duterte finally made a public address last Monday, ending rumors about his health during his almost two weeks of being away from public view.
“For me, of course, I think that, during this time that we have a crisis and many are afraid, it’s important that the leader is visible. Of course, our principal leader is our president,” Gutierrez said in Filipino in an online interview on Wednesday with DABIGC Radio Nationwide.
“And when he came out last Monday, I was thankful because at least that addressed the gossip circulating about his being sick, that something happened, et cetera. And I think that at this time it’s important for us to know that our leader is there,” he added.
Duterte appeared on Monday after canceling briefings scheduled for April 5 and April 7, supposedly as a safety precaution because some members of the Presidential Security Group had contracted COVID-19.
Before his appearance, however, prompted rumors that he was not in good health.
Robredo is seen as the figurehead of the opposition, being the highest-ranking elected official who does not belong to any of the parties allied to Duterte. And yet, Gutierrez said they believe spreading rumors that Duterte’s health was failing, would not be good for the country.
“I think these rumors being spread around are not helpful. And VP Leni has also repeated several times that she was always praying for the health and strength of our president,” Guiterrez said.
“And I think, at this time, that’s what we’re expecting — that our president, the chief of our government, is there, focusing on the problems that we face. Especially in this time of crisis — when there’s great apprehension, when a lot of people are very worried, and it’s necessary to have a clear direction — what’s really needed is an assurance from our leaders,” he added.
In Monday’s briefing, Duterte said he was actually doing well, but he deliberately hid from public view to tease critics who believed that he was dead or dying.
The president also answered tirades from his friend, broadcaster and newspaper columnist Mon Tulfo, who said that he should just show up to end all the rumors.
According to Duterte, he does have several medical conditions, but none of them can keep him from performing his duties.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, former Duterte aide, tried to squelch the rumors, saying that the president was in good health. He even released photos of Duterte riding a motorcycle, jogging, and playing golf at the Malacañang Palace grounds.
Duterte’s health has often been discussed after he assumed office in 2016 as the oldest president ever elected in the country’s history.
On various occasions, he admitted that he had several lingering medical conditions like Buerger’s disease and Barrett’s esophagus, aside from experiencing occasional headaches and spinal issues due to a motorcycle accident.
Before Duterte’s address last Monday, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 65% of Filipinos believe that the president must fully disclose his health status.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.