MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte missed a scheduled event in Palo, Leyte, on Friday, February 1, supposedly because he was unwell.
His former aide, Bong Go, told reporters in a message that Duterte was "not feeling well" hence he would not make it to the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order where he was expected to be at 4 pm on Friday.
At the time Go sent the message, barangay officials and national government officials were already gathered at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo for the event.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año was tasked to read Duterte's message. Before reading it, however, Año said the President was absent because of a "pressing commitment."
Asked by reporters to explain the apparent contradiction in his statement and Go's, Año said" "Ah hindi ako ang spokesman ng ating Pangulo kaya hindi ko masagot 'yan. Siyempre ang ganyan, si Sec Panelo ang pwedeng [sumagot]. Ang tip sa akin, I had to represent the President because of some pressing commitment so siguro kasama na rin siguro 'yun."
(I am not the spokesman of our President so I can't answer that. For those matters, Secretary Panelo can [address that]. The tip to me was, I had to represent the President because of some pressing commitment, maybe that reason is included.)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo downplayed whatever concerns could arise from Duterte's non-appearance.
"Well, he is not Superman. Every person does not feel well sometimes... I don't think that the President canceling an event in Tacloban because he is not feeling well is a cause of concern," said Panelo in a message.
The 73-year-old Duterte had admitted to a slew of health conditions but Malacañang had been quick to say these were normal given his age.
The President also bared that he had gone through medical tests so his doctors could check on a suspicious growth inside his body. Duterte claimed the results showed the growth was not cancerous.
The President has skipped several other events in the past, some due to health reasons, and others for vague reasons.
Here are all the activities he has skipped during his presidency:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.