MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been absent from public eye for nearly two weeks, “is not sick”, Malacañang said on Monday, as it also rejected calls for the release of bulletins on his health.
Duterte, 76, is expected to deliver his “Talk to the People” later Monday, his first since March 29. He cancelled public engagements last week after some members of his security team contracted COVID-19, said his allies, who denied that the President was ill.
“Ang (a) medical bulletin is only given when the President is sick; and he is not sick,” Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing.
The President “remains fit and healthy for his age,” Roque said last Thursday.
Duterte, the oldest to become Philippine President, had said he suffers Barrett’s esophagus, an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach.
The President, in various instances, said he also struggled with back pains, migraines and Buerger's disease, which is linked to blockages in the blood vessels associated with smoking during his youth.
A former aide last week released videos and photos showing Duterte jogging, golfing, and motorbike-riding in an apparent bid to quell rumors on his health.
Duterte “made all the decisions he needed to make” over the weekend regarding the quarantine status of Metro Manila and other areas. He also “supervised” the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, said Roque.
“Ang assumption n'yo po, kinakailangan magpakita para patunay na nagtatrabaho ang Presidente. Hindi po ganoon ang istilo ng ating President,” he said.
“Hindi na po niya kinakailangan ipagmayabang sa publiko na siya ay nagtatrabaho. Ang taumbayan naman ay naniniwala naman na on top of the situation ang President, even if hindi niya pinangangalandakan ito sa taongbayan.”
(Your assumption is the President should be seen to prove that he is working. That's not the style of our President. He doesn't need to brag to the public that he is working. The public believes the President is on top of the situation even if he does not boast.)
The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo (where is the President) trended on Twitter last week.
Duterte's absence from public eye coincided with the 2-week return of the Greater Manila area to the strictest quarantine level, and a report of Chinese ships chasing a Filipino boat away from Philippine waters.