Panelo defends Duterte’s absence in gov’t rites: ‘He is a night person’


MANILA, Philippines — There is nothing to worry about President Rodrigo Duterte’s health, his spokesman said, after the 74-year old Chief Executive skipped the National Heroes Day rites in Taguig City on Monday.

“He’s okay. The President is in good health,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net

Duterte’s longtime aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go told reporters in Taguig City that the President was “indisposed” and could not lead the celebration.

READ: Indisposed Duterte skipping National Heroes Day rites

Sought for further comment on Duterte’s absence, Panelo said the President attended an event and might have stayed up late.

“Okay siya kasi mayroon siyang event baka napuyat siguro kaya nahirapan na namang [magisisng],” he said.

“Kasi hindi ba si Presidente alas sais kung matulog, eh alas otso ‘yong event, mawawalan siya ng ano mahihirapan siya talagang mag 8 o’clock tsaka 9 o’clock o 10 o’clock. Mahirapan talaga siya doon,” he added.

“The only reason perhaps,” for the President’s absence, Panelo said was “that he was not able to come because either he is busy with some work or he could not make it that early given the fact the he is a night person.”

Duterte is known to attend events in the afternoon and rarely has a schedule in the morning.

His absence during the National Heroes Day rites in Taguig City was not the first time he was a no-show at a morning event.

In 2017, he skipped the June 12 Independence Day rites at Rizal Park scheduled in the morning because he was not feeling well.

READ: Duterte skips Independence Day rites at Luneta

He also skipped the morning ceremony for Rizal Day in Davao City in 2018. Palace officials said then that the President needed to rest.

READ: Duterte skips Rizal Day rites in Davao City to rest, says Bong Go

Panelo, however, said Duterte is set to visit Monday afternoon the wake of soldiers who were killed during an August 23 encounter with the New People’s Army in Calbayog City in Samar.

In the past, Duterte’s prolonged absence has sparked speculations about his health.

The President earlier revealed he had undergone colonoscopy and endoscopy and that he has been undergoing regular blood tests.

He also previously admitted suffering from Buerger’s disease, migraine, and back pains due to smoking during his youth. /kga

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