Where is the President? Palace says Duterte working while out of public eye

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2019 03:27 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte. Arman Baylon, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte prefers to focus on his work privately, Malacañang said Monday following the chief executive's weeklong absence from public eye.

Over the weekend, rumors circulated that the President was hospitalized at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City but Malacañang denied this. 

President Duterte was last seen in public during the May 13 midterm elections when he cast his vote in his hometown Davao City.

"Ang Presidente pag hindi ninyo nakikita, nagtatrabaho iyon, ayaw na naiistorbo nun," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters during a Palace press briefing.

(When you don't see the President, it means he is working. He doesn't want to be disturbed.)

Panelo said the President focuses on signing papers and reading documents when he is out of public view. 


While Malacañang denied that Duterte was confined in the hospital over the weekend, Panelo said the President neither confirmed nor denied going to the hospital.

"The President is in his residence at the Palace signing papers. I just talked to him, he is neither confirming nor denying that he went to the hospital," Panelo said Sunday.

Panelo on Monday said concerns on the President's health are not serious because if these are, Duterte would have already informed the public.

"Sabi niya (He said), 'I neither confirm nor deny.' You draw your own conclusions," he said.

"In other words, para sa kanya, it’s not a serious matter. Kasi kung serious iyon, he always tell the public about it, di ba he tells you, kapag meron siyang—kung nagpunta siya, nagpatingin siya ng ganito," he said.

(For him, it's not a serious matter because if it is serious, he always tells the public about it whether he had himself checked somewhere.)

On Sunday, former presidential aide Christopher “Bong” Go released photos of President Duterte posing with daily broadsheets as proof of life at the Bahay ng Pagbabago in Malacañang.

Panelo said Duterte has been in Manila since Friday last week and downplayed rumors that Duterte was seriously ill. 

"Nandoon lang siya sa Bahay Pagbabago, signing papers. I talked to him yesterday, his voice was very strong. Wala, natawa lang (he is just laughing)," he said.

Duterte's prolonged absences from the public eye are not new and have oftentimes fueled speculations on his health.

Last year, the President said he underwent a medical checkup to examine a “growth” found in his digestive tract.

Duterte said he needed to undergo endoscopy and colonoscopy because he suffers from Barret’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease.