DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) — Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. on Friday urged the public to “pray that the President will soon be back on his feet and do his bounden duty to serve the best interests or our people.”
Duterte is apparently back on his feet as Malacanang e-mailed a media advisory to Davao-based reporters at 10:41 a.m. Saturday that the President was visiting the 401st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division’s advance command post in Barangay Bancasi in Butuan City at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Butuan visit is the first public appearance of Duterte since Sunday evening, June 11, during the “Dignified Transfer of the Fallen Philippine Marine Corps Personnel” rites at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
MindaNews asked the Media Accreditation Relations Officer (MARO) assigned during the Butuan visit if this was a previously scheduled visit. Malou said they were advised about Saturday’s visit last Thursday.
In a seven-paragraph statement titled “On Pres. D’s ailment,” a copy of which he sent to MindaNews, Pimentel said Duterte is a human being and like everyone is “subject to diseases to which human beings are prone.”
But Pimentel, father of incumbent Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and a Mindanawon like Duterte, said that while ill, the President is “entitled to have some respite from the glare of media cameras.”
“There is no need to show him being administered serums or medical procedures by his doctors,” Pimentel said, adding “we have to take” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s reports on the President’s condition.
“Anyway, the truth will out at the appropriate time,” the elder Pimentel, a former city mayor like Duterte, said. In the meantime, he urged everyone to “pray that the President will soon be back on his feet and do his bounden duty to serve the best interests of our people.”
Malacanang has yet to confirm that Duterte is ill.
“He is well. He is just getting needed rest after 23 intense days of supervising the Marawi situation,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a text message at 10:59 p.m. Wednesday in response to reports that started circulating Tuesday that the President suffered a stroke, that his right arm was paralyzed and that he had been vomiting.
The President’s last public appearance was on Sunday, June 11. He visited Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Cagayan de Oro in the afternoon where he awarded medals to 84 soldiers who were wounded in action in Marawi and in the evening condoled with the families of the 13 Marines slain in Marawi on June 9, during rites at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
On Thursday, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go released two photographs of Duterte in Balay Pagbabago, his official residence in Malacanang, poring over documents on the table and another photograph of him standing beside Go.
On Thursday evening, Malacanang Photos dispatched four photographs of Dutere at the Villamor Air Base before departing for Davao City, showing Duterte rendering a salute to Air Force officials along with the two photographs Go had earlier released “to quell rumors that the President is sick.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)