MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte again made an unannounced Hong Kong trip on Saturday, February 16.
Hong Kong media reported that they spotted him at World Trade Center in the famous Causeway Bay area on Saturday night.
Exclusive photos and videos taken of him by Oriental Daily News show he was accompanied by his longtime partner Honeylet Avanceña and his former presidential aide Bong Go.
Oriental Daily News is a major news website in Hong Kong.
Go later on confirmed Duterte's trip.
"Totoo po na pumunta ng Hong Kong si Pangulong Duterte na kasama ang longtime partner niya na si Ma'am Honeylet Avanceña at anak nila na si Kitty para sa isang personal na biyahe," he said in a message to reporters.
(It is true that President Duterte went to Hong Kong with his longtime partner Honeylet Avanceña and their daughter Kitty for a personal trip.)
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also confirmed the Hong Kong trip. He said in a text message to Rappler: "Yup he is in HK with Honeylet. It's the latter's birthday today."
Photo from Bong Go
Go also said: "It was actually Kitty who requested her father for the trip, as a gift. Nagawa na ito nila noon kahit nung mayor pa ng Davao City si PRRD (The family would go on trips even when PRRD was mayor of Davao City). The weekend getaway is for rest and recreation."
Go added: "Bago po umalis ang Pangulo ay tinalaga niya si Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea na OIC at in charge sa pang araw-araw na operations ng Office of the President." (Before leaving, the President designated Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as officer-in-charge of the day-to-day operations of the Office of the President.)
The Oriental Daily News' article said Duterte was seen boarding a car and heading to Wan Chai, one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping and commercial districts.
Duterte left for Hong Kong late Friday night, February 15. He is set to fly back to the Philippines on Sunday, February 17.
Duterte's trip means he has made two unannounced visits to Hong Kong in over 4 months. He was last seen there on October 6, 2018. Go had this to say about that trip then: "Kailangan ding magpahinga ng Pangulo (The President also has to rest)."
Photos of that earlier trip showed Duterte window-shopping for clothes with Kitty, also in the Causeway Bay area.
He had gone to Hong Kong days after going to the hospital on October 3, a visit during which doctors took samples of a "growth" found inside his body.
This more recent visit comes days after Duterte denied having a "kidney transplant" on January 29, as floated by former senator Kit Tatad in a Manila Times column.
Two days after, he took to Facebook Live to dispel rumors of his death. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.