Duterte’s prolonged absences, skipped events? ‘Overworked, resting’

Pia Ranada

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Duterte’s prolonged absences, skipped events? ‘Overworked, resting’


(UPDATED) In recent weeks, President Rodrigo Duterte has stayed out of the public eye for days on end and has failed to show up at several engagements

One thing we’ve seen in the Duterte presidency are prolonged periods of the Chief Executive holding no official functions, often leading his aides to spread photos or videos of him to prove he is well.

In recent weeks, these periods of absence have returned. Monday, May 20, will be President Rodrigo Duterte’s 7th consecutive day out of the public eye. The last time he was seen in public was when he voted on May 13.

This means he did not attend any public official function for an entire week. If he had other official activities, Malacañang did not inform the media. 

A source close to the President said he has “private meetings” on Sunday. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo had said Duterte was in Bahay Pangarap, his residence within Malacañang grounds, “signing papers” on Sunday. The Chief Executive has supposedly been in Manila since Friday, Panelo said on Monday.

These 7 days cleared of any public events comes after the busy campaign and election period which Duterte spent attending PDP-Laban rallies and campaign events of his friends and allies.

This recent period of absence was preceded by another one. From April 29 to May 4 – a period of 6 days – Duterte also made no public appearances.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo had then said the President was resting and working on government papers from his home in Davao City.

The spokesman cited Duterte’s need for rest following his 4-day trip to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum, and then immediately after, his attendance at the Palarong Pambansa opening ceremony in Davao City.

Thus far, Duterte has gone on at least 5 periods of prolonged absence since he began his presidency, based on Rappler’s monitoring.

In recent days, Duterte has also skipped several events, with aides often citing his need to rest.

On May 9, he was a no-show at Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s campaign caravan in Davao City. Then-senatorial candidate Bong Go said Duterte “needed to rest.”

Two weeks before, Duterte skipped the Belt and Road forum’s gala dinner on April 26. Panelo had then said the President had suffered a “migraine.”

Four days before that, Duterte had also skipped the Boao Forum of Asia Manila Conference on April 22 because, according to Panelo, he felt “overworked.”

On April 12, Duterte failed to show up at the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Marawi City, but this was supposedly due to bad flying conditions.

His health condition has always been an issue in his presidency given his advanced age. Duterte, now 74, is the oldest Philippine president upon assumption to the post. 

He’s also admitted to a slew of ailments, including daily migraines and Buerger’s Disease, a disease associated with smoking. In 2018, he revealed he had undergone medical tests  to check for cancer which he eventually claimed came out negative. (READ: President’s health: Touchy topic for Duterte, public concern for Constitution) – Rappler.com


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.