PADADA, Davao del Sur (MindaNews / 03 January) — President Rodrigo Duterte was a no-show for the second day in Malalag and Padada towns in Davao del Sur on Friday, where he was supposed to visit earthquake victims, a visit originally scheduled Thursday but reset to Friday because he was not feeling well.
On Friday, the President wasn’t able to make it to Malalag and Padada, again because he was not feeling well. He sent his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, to represent him.
The scheduled visits to Malalag and Padada were supposed to be in fulfillment of a promise made when he visited the quake victims in M’lang and Digos City on December 30 but he failed to make it Thursday and Friday in what would have been the first Presidential visits for 2020.
Duterte’s son told the crowd at the Malalag Cultural and Sports Center that his father has not been able to come home for some time (“Si Papa dugay na pud wa kauli sa Davao City”) and “gimingaw siya sa iyang kwarto ug naglain pud iyang lawas” (he misses his room and he is not feeling well).
Since he assumed the Presidency on June 30, 2016, Duterte has actually been spending weekends and holidays in his hometown.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go who accompanied the Vice Mayor in the two Davao del Sur towns, arrived in Malalag by helicopter from Davao City shortly after 5 p.m. for the supposed 2 p.m. schedule and around 6 p.m. in Padada for the supposed 4 p.m. schedule.
Go, Special Assistant to the President before he became Senator, apologized for the President’s absence.
“Nangayo kog pasaylo sa ikaduhang adlaw na nga wala nakaabot ang atong Presidente. Lain gyud ang iyahang” (I apologize that the President was not able to come here. He really doesn’t feel well), Go said before shifting to Filipino. “Medyo he is not feeling well, medyo masama ang kanyang pakiramdam” (He is not feeling well, his condition is not well).
Anticipating questions about Duterte’s health condition, Go said the President is “okay” and was in fact flying to Manila Friday evening to attend the change of command rites at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the following day.
The change of command from General Noel Clement to Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Felimon Santos ,Jr., the new Armed Forces Chief of Staff, is on Saturday afternoon.
“Sa mga nagtatanong naman po po kung anong karamdaman ng ating ating mahal na Pangulo, wag kayong mag-alala kasi sino namang 74 years old po na hindi nagkakasaakit? Sa ngayon magdasal na lang tayo para aa ating mahal na pangulo. Rest assured he is okay and mamayang gabi po ay pupunta na sya ng Maynila at mag-attend siya ng turnover ng bagong Armed Forces Chief of Staff (To those who are asking what the President’s health condition is, do not worry because who among the 74-year old persons don’t get sick? For now, let us pray for our beloved Presdient. Rest assured he is okay and tonight he will got to Manila to attend the turnover of command to the new Armed Forces Chief of Staff), Go said.
Later, he told reporters the President had a bum stomach. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, told Malacanang reporters the President had to catch up on sleep.
In Padada, earthquake survivors who had no entrance tickets waited outside the gate of the Padada Central Elementary School to be allowed in. Mayor Pedro Caminero told the crowd gathered at the covered court inside the school compound that only 50 residents per barangay (the town has 17) were allowed in. But he said he asked the Presidential Security Group to allow those who were waiting outside to enter.
Among those without tickets but were eventually allowed in was 79-year old Leonida Labial. Labial told MindaNews she wanted to tell the President that her house was destroyed by the Magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck at 2:11 p.m. on December 15, that she has been living in a makeshift tent since then and would like the President to help her.
The President’s son handed over a 5-million peso check to Malalag Mayor Peter Paul Valentin, a 2-million peso check to Padada Mayor Caminero and food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to five families each in ceremonial rites.
In November 2019, Duterte took a week-long break in Davao City after the ASEAN Summit in Thailand but scheduled a visit to Pigcawayan in North Cotabato on November 15 to talk to farmers there.
In a November 13 press release, Senator Go said the President was okay, is working and will fly to North Cotabato (from Davao City) on November 15 to visit the farmers and “listen to their concerns.”
“Biyernes, punta kami ng North Cotabato sa mga farmers. Nanawagan sila sa Pangulo kaya ang sabi naman ng Pangulo, pupuntahan niya sila. Siya mismo ang pupunta at makikinig sa mga farmers. Kita niyo naman, trabaho pa rin” (On Friday, we will go to North Cotabato to visit the farmers. They called on the President so the President said he will go to them. He himself will go and listen to the farmers. See, it’s still work), said Go.
The venue in North Cotabato was not mentioned in Go’s press release but he told MindaNews in a text message that the President was going to Pigcawayan.
The President was a no-show in Pigcawayan on November 15. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)