MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte "struggled to stay awake" during the Philippine Military Academy's graduation rites on Sunday after staying up late the night before, Malacañang said Monday.
Duterte only had 2 hours of sleep prior to the commencement exercises since he is a "night person," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo explained.
Duterte was nearly 2-hours late for the graduation ceremony scheduled at 9 a.m.
"The event at 9 a.m. was part of his sleeping time. He is a night person. He was so sleepy when he arrived at the venue. He struggled to be awake," Panelo explained.
The chief executive, he said, usually sleeps at 6 a.m. and had to be awake at 8:30 a.m. for the commencement exercises.
Duterte also deferred from distributing most of the diplomas during the graduation because he "reserved" his energy for the other parts of the ceremony, Panelo said.
Duterte delegated the distribution of most diplomas to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the commencement exercises. It was a first for the chief executive since he assumed office.
"He (Duterte) opted to let SND (Lorenzana) do the handing of the certificates. He reserved his energy for the other ceremonial acts he had to perform for the graduation rites," Panelo said.
PMA spokesperson Major Reynan Afan earlier said Duterte has the prerogative to delegate the task of distributing diplomas.
"Nevertheless, we are already grateful for the thoughtful presence of our Commander-in-Chief for gracing the occasion," Afan said in a statement.
The President only awarded the diploma, presidential saber, and the certificate of ownership to a house and lot to PMA Mabalasik Class of 2019 valedictorian, Dionne Umalla.
Vice President Leni Robredo then handed the award to salutatorian Jonathan Mendoza. But for the rest of the graduating class, it was Lorenzana who awarded the diploma.
Panelo noted the President was already his "usual, alert, impassioned and assertive self" by the time he delivered his speech.
Asked about the rape joke Duterte made during the graduation, Panelo said it was intended to make people laugh.
"He made some mischievous remarks to make people laugh. People have been used to his jokes. Hence, his audience will always receive them with hearty laughter," he said.
Panelo also allayed concerns on the President's health, saying Duterte is "robust enough" to travel to Japan on Tuesday.
"To those who are concerned about his well being, they should be assured that apart from what he already told the public of what ails him (which is not life-threatening), the President is in good health, robust enough to be traveling to Japan for an official visit upon the invitation of Prime Minister Abe," he said.