MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte was in “excellent” health despite missing what was supposed to be his first Independence Day celebration as Chief Executive on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte had to take a rest after dealing with a “brutal schedule”, which involved him visiting wounded soldiers and those slain in the ongoing Marawi siege.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had told reporters Monday that the president was not feeling well and had decided to take some rest after a busy weekend.
“[You] have to credit the President, considering everything, that he has been actually honoring the military dead, the civilian dead, and he has been actually going around,” Abella said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“[We] need to allow him [some] rest. He was actually on top of the situation, however… he also needed rest,” he added.
Duterte missed the Independence Day flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies at the Rizal Park on Monday. Vice President Leni Robredo led the rites instead, while Cayetano represented the President.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, an outspoken critic of the President, scored Duterte’s absence at his administration's first Independence Day rites, saying the commander-in-chief lacked discipline.
Since declaring martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has been visiting military camps in the south to boost the morale of his men fighting terrorists in the besieged Marawi City.
Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, backed by foreign terrorists, laid siege to Marawi City.
The clashes erupted as government troops were attempting to arrest senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, considered the Islamic State’s point person in Southeast Asia.
About 1,000 residents are believed to remain trapped in the crisis-hit city, making it difficult for government troops to pursue their offensive.
As of Monday, a total of 286 have died in the weeks-long gunfights, including 202 terrorists, 58 state troops and 26 civilians.