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Duterte to do aerial inspection over Rolly-hit Bicol, Calabarzon

President Rodrigo Duterte, criticized as being missing from action as Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) ravaged parts of the country, is now scheduled to conduct an aerial inspection of storm-hit Bicol and Calabarzon on Monday, November 2.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte would go on the inspection during his flight from Davao City to Metro Manila on Monday afternoon.

"En route to Manila, he will be conducting an aerial inspection in Bicolandia and Calabarzon," said Roque, making the statement a day after netizens flagged the Chief Executive's absence from two major government public briefings on Rolly.

Senator Bong Go, longtime aide of Duterte's, also announced this during a virtual press briefing on state-run channel PTV.

"Ang ating Pangulo ay mismong pupunta mamayang hapon doon sa mga lugar na tinamaan ng bagyo, mga hardest-hit po ay kanyang bibisitahin," said Go.

(Our President will visit places hit by the storm this afternoon, he will visit those which are hardest hit.)

The senator later on specified Legazpi City as one of the areas in Albay Duterte will check on.

Aside from an aerial inspection, a "situation briefing" with members of the Cabinet is being arranged, Go added. It's not clear if this briefing is separate from Duterte's meeting with Cabinet officials in Metro Manila that is typically devoted to COVID-19 updates.

Meanwhile, Roque said Duterte may deliver a public address later on Monday.

As of writing, Duterte was in his hometown of Davao City, where he spent the All Souls' and All Saints' Day holidays and the days when Rolly had raged through Luzon and parts of Visayas.

Duterte's men defend him

Go defended Duterte from criticism that the public was not hearing from him even as the strongest cyclone of the year was hitting the country.

"Hindi ibig sabihin nasa Mindanao ang Pangulo hindi siya nagtatrabaho. 24/7 po nagtatrabaho ang Pangulo at sinisigurado ng Pangulo na laging handa ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno," said Go.

(Just because the President is in Mindanao does not mean he is not working. The President works 24/7 and he is making sure the agencies of government are always ready.)

Earlier on Monday, Roque too defended Duterte, saying that though the Chief Executive was in Davao City, all government agencies were on "red alert" for Rolly.

National disaster preparedness council executive director Ricardo Jalad also said Duterte could afford the "luxury" of not holding public briefings about the typhoon because "the government is functioning, from the local government unit up to the national government."

Duterte's Malacañang communications during Rolly has come under fire, specifically the late press briefing held by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Sunday morning, after the super typhoon had already made landfall twice in Bicol. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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