Duterte out of public eye for 6th straight day

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – With no official activities scheduled on Monday, June 26, President Rodrigo Duterte is on his 6th day of rest, the longest he has been away from the public eye. 

According to the Palace, Duterte will have no public events or official activities on Monday, a holiday due to Eid'l Fitr or the end of Ramadan.

The President has not been seen in public since June 20, when he visited an evacuation center in Iligan City and checked on the condition of soldiers in a Cagayan de Oro military hospital.

But according to a Palace official, Duterte kept busy with private events after June 20. On Thursday and Friday, June 22 and 23, he supposedly attended wakes. On Saturday, June 24, he was at a private dinner.

On June 17, Duterte had attended Agusan del Norte's 50th Founding Anniversary and visited a military command post in Bancasi, Butuan City. Before then, he had been missing in action for 5 days straight. 

This is the 3rd prolonged period of rest Duterte has been on. The first was in February when he was gone for 4 days. The second was his 5-day absence from June 12 to 16.

The days preceding Eid'l Fitr were usually busy days for Duterte back when he was mayor, according to a Palace official who had worked at the Davao city hall. A few days before the holiday, Duterte would go around visiting mosques and Muslim communities to celebrate the occasion with them. 

But security risks that come with the presidency and the ongoing clashes in Marawi City have made it impossible for Duterte to continue with this tradition, said the official.

Duterte is expected to resume his official activities on Tuesday, June 27, according to the Palace.

'Overwhelmed'

In his speech in Agusan del Norte, the President admitted his body had been "overwhelmed" by his activities in the first week of June, which included several visits to military camps and meetings in the aftermath of his martial law declaration. 

Exhaustion led him to cancel his appearance at Independence Day rites on June 12 at the Rizal Park. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, filling in for Duterte that day, said he was told the President was "not feeling well."

The Palace has consistently denied rumors that Duterte has been debilitated by any serious health condition. Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella maintained that while Duterte is in "excellent health," he has had to rest due to his taxing schedule.

The 72-year-old Duterte has previously complained about several health conditions, including Buerger's Disease and Barrett's Esophagus. He has admitted to having used powerful painkiller fentanyl as well as an oxygen concentrator for respiratory ailments. (READ: LIST: 'Migraine everyday' and Duterte's other ailments)

At least 3 senators have demanded full disclosure of the President's health, to which Duterte has reacted with disdain. 

Duterte, the oldest president the country has had, has dismissed queries about his health since the 2016 presidential campaign. (READ: Duterte: De Lima wants to hear I'm dying– 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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