Duterte takes another day off for ‘private time’
After skipping the 119th Independence Day celebration on Monday, President Duterte took time off again to rest on Tuesday following a “brutal” schedule the previous week.
But the health of the 72-year-old President remains well, according to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
“The President is actually in excellent health, except for the fact that his schedule has been brutal,” Abella said in a press briefing.
He said the President enjoyed some “private time” on Tuesday.
Abella said the President had been going around military camps and visiting the soldiers who were wounded or killed in the clashes with extremist groups in Marawi.
Mr. Duterte would have also wanted to join the events to honor the slain government troops, but had to ease up on his activities, he said.
“The fact is, he was already doing it for the rest of the week. I think we need to allow him to rest. He was actually on top of the situation,” he said.
As to whether the President received doctors’ orders to scale back on his activities, he said medical advice was not necessary for Mr. Duterte to slow down.
“Frankly, you don’t need medical advice in order to tell you that you should rest. Your body tells you that,” Abella said.
“Today, he’s resting. It’s private time,” he said.
Mr. Duterte failed to attend what would have been his first Independence Day celebration as president on Monday because he was “not feeling well.”
He was supposed to lead the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites at the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park in Manila.
In his absence, Vice President Leni Robredo led the events as the highest-ranking official present.
Mr. Duterte has admitted to having been diagnosed with Buerger’s disease, a rare condition in which blood vessels constrict due to the accumulation of nicotine.
He is also suffering from Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease which involves changes in the tissue lining the esophagus.
Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo made light of her appearance as President Duterte’s last-minute stand-in during Monday’s Independence Day rites, saying she was sure the latter had a good reason for not showing up.
“I was told the President would not be able to make it when I was around five to 10 minutes away from Luneta. So I was told the President could not make it and they asked if I could take his place,” she told reporters during a visit with a rural community in Taysan, Batangas.
“To me it was not a problem. I’m sure he had an important reason to be absent,” Robredo said of the President.
Though the attendance of the two officials was officially confirmed at the June 12 celebration at the Rizal Park, Mr. Duterte did not show up.
No reason was immediately given although officials said he took a rest day.
Robredo ended up taking the leading role in raising the flag with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
Staff members from Robredo’s office told the Inquirer they were taken by surprise when they were suddenly told to “take over from there” by Malacañang personnel, who, until the announcement of the President’s absence, had been calling the shots.
“Suddenly, the Vice President had the lead role,” one staff member said.
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