MANILA - At least 3 senators on Tuesday chided President Rodrigo Duterte for his weeks-long absence in the public eye, saying Filipinos are not demanding for "proof of life" but "proof of good and authentic leadership."
Prior to his taped address on Monday, Duterte's former aide - Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go - has been providing pictures of the President playing golf, riding a motorcycle and jogging inside Malacañang to assure the public that the 76-year-old chief executive is still alive, contrary to rumors about his failing health.
"The President's presence and availability for photo ops can never substitute for clear, coherent, empathetic and compassionate leadership," opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said in a tweet.
"Hindi naman proof of life ang hinihingi ng tao, kundi proof of good & authentic leadership, especially now. Filipinos want to feel that government cares," she said.
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima called out Duterte for his alleged incompetence in handling the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines.
"Habang nasa kung saang lupalop siya at nagpapa-photoshoot habang nagmemeryenda, nagja-jogging, naggo-golf at kung anu-ano pang pampalipas oras, araw-araw, daan-daan ang binabawian ng buhay at nauulila," she said in a tweet.
(While he was somewhere doing photoshoots while eating snacks, jogging, playing golf and other pastimes, hundreds are dying everyday.)
"If Duterte and his sycophants will continue to sleep on their job and their non-sense photo-ops just to prove that Duterte can still breathe or jog after two weeks of absence, we cannot and we will never recover. This has to end," she said.
In a taped address aired on Monday, Duterte said he made a point to hide from the public after receiving criticisms for his performance as president.
"Noong nawala ako ng ilang araw, talagang sinadya ko 'yun. Ganoon ako eh, kapag kinakalkal mo ako, lalo akong, parang bata? Kapag lalo mo akong kinakantyawan, eh mas lalo akong gumagana," he said.
(When I was gone for a few days, I did that on purpose. I am like that, when you look for me, I tend to act like a child. When you tease me, that's when I act up.)
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he hopes Duterte is now done "playing hide-and-seek."
"Sinadya daw niya. Sana, huling larong ‘hide-and-seek’ na ito ng Pangulo kasi maraming nag-aalala," Lacson tweeted.
"The health condition of any sitting president should be the concern of every Filipino. Even Vice President Leni Robredo had the moral decency to say that she was praying for him," he said.
Under the Constitution, the vice president would take over the highest seat of the land should the incumbent chief executive either die or be deemed incapable of fulfilling his role as the Philippines' top official.
At least 65 percent of Filipinos agreed that Duterte's health should be considered a public matter, according to an SWS survey released on April 12.
Despite Duterte's frequent absence from public events and briefings, Malacañang maintained that the President is "not sick."