By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte deserves to relax and enjoy his family vacation in Hong Kong given that he has been working hard in office, a Palace official said yesterday.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar issued the statement in defense of the President’s private visit to Hong Kong this weekend.
Duterte has left the country without previous notice for a weekend vacation with his longtime partner Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica in Hong Kong.
They were expected to fly back home Sunday night.
“Alam mo naman si Presidente nabanggit na dati na he’s fond of going to Hong Kong before. I think he really deserves his family time. Sarili niyang oras na makapag ikot-ikot, makain siguro yung pagkain na gusto niya o mabil ang damit na gusto niya (You know the President mentioned before that he’s fond of going to Hong Kong. I think he really deserves his family time, own time to travel, eat the food he likes, buy the clothes he like),” Andanar said in a radio interview.
“He deserves this. Napaka-hardworking ni Presidente Duterte so mas maganda na mag-enjoy nang mag-enjoy lang siya doon na walang istorbo (He deserves this.
The President is very hardworking so it’s good that he enjoys his trip without disturbance),” he added.
Andanar also brushed aside criticisms about the President’s unannounced Hong Kong vacation while the nation was enduring high consumer prices. He claimed that the President’s detractors would not stop criticizing his every move.
“Basta Mr. President, relax ka lang diyan. Hayaan mo na ang mga critics mo. Ang mahalaga ay ang taumbayan natin more than 80 percent na kababayaan natin ay naniniwala sa iyo (Mr. President, just relax there. Don’t mind the critics. The important thing is more than 80 percent of the people trust you),” he said.
Andanar said the President was expected to return to work as soon as he returns from his private trip to Hong Kong.
He noted that the President is scheduled to travel to Bali, Indonesia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering this week.
“Mr. President just relax muna dahil pagbalik mo sa Manila bakbakan uli sa trabaho at mayroon ka pang mga foreign trips, mayroon ka pang trip sa Bali na kailangan atupagin,” he said.
The Palace confirmed the President was out of the country Saturday night only after photos of Duterte and his family shopping in in Hong Kong circulated online.
The President was in Hong Kong to have a brief rest, according to his assistant Christopher Go.
Cancer or not?
The President’s visit to Hong Kong came a few days after his hospital visit to undergo a second colonoscopy.
Duterte, who missed a Cabinet meeting to go to the hospital last week, said he was still waiting for the medical results. He assured the public he would inform the nation if he has cancer.
“I would tell you that – if it’s cancer, it’s cancer. And if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong my agony in this office or anywhere,” he said.
Active at work
Andanar said that despite the uncertainty of the President’s health at this point, his condition does not seem to hinder him from executing his official functions.
“Two years and three months na si Presidente sa opisina, at nakita naman natin na masigla at nagagawa niya iyong kaniyang tungkulin (The President has been in office for two years and three months and we saw that he is healthy and can perform his duties),” Andanar said over AM radio station DZMM.
The status of the President’s health has been a topic of discussion almost every month this year. Last month, the Palace denied allegations that Duterte’s historic visit to Israel is also so that he could seek medical assistance in the Holy Land.
This past week, it was Duterte himself who revealed that doctors found through an endoscopy procedure what seemed to be a growth in his digestive tract. He has to undergo another endoscopy in one month’s time.
“Wala namang problema. Ako naman nagbabase rin sa kung anong nakikita ko (I see no problem. I also base this on what I see),” said Andanar with respect to the President’s work routine. (With a report from Argyll Cyrus Geducos)