As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hosted Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in Malacañang on Friday, October 18, media observed an unusual white gadget hanging from his neck.
He had apparently been wearing the same necklace during other events that week and the week before, such as the 42nd Cabinet Meeting on October 11, the military-police command conference on October 15, and the launch of a coal power plant on October 16.
The necklace is an "air purifier," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday, October 18.
"That is an air purifier, so he will be protected from persons within his proximity who have coughs and colds," Panelo told media in a text message.
A Malacañang source told Rappler that the specific device around Duterte's neck is the AirTamer A310, described as a "personal rechargeable and portable air purifier."
It's supposed to eliminate germs, viruses, bacteria, odors, and allergens by emiting a "constant stream of healthy negative ions that force airborne pollutants away from your personal space," reads the description on Amazon.com.
This supposedly creates a 3-foot radius of "safer" air around the wearer's head.
The model Duterte is wearing is priced at $149.99 (roughly P7,799.48) on Amazon.
The same source said even staff in Malacañang were given the same device.
Is the 74-year-old Duterte particularly vulnerable to coughs, colds, or germs in the air?
What we know is back in the day, Duterte was a heavy smoker, such that he eventually acquired Buerger's Disease, a rare condition involving the constriction of blood vessels in the arms and legs, blocking blood flow. (READ: LIST: 'Migraine everyday' and Duterte's other ailments)
He's often skipped events or gone on week-long absences due to health reasons not explained in detail by Malacañang. (READ: LIST: Duterte's skipped events, long absences)
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.