By Genalyn Kabiling
PORT MORESBY — The Filipino nation is getting its money’s worth with President Duterte working “like hell as if there is no tomorrow,” the Philippine government assured on Friday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo sought to dismiss allegations raised by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the President was lazy or seriously ill following his absence in some meetings during a regional summit in Singapore.
Panelo defended the President actually continues to have a “punishing work ethic” despite his lingering pain from a motorcycle accident years ago.
“Unlike Trillanes, who used the Senate as his sleeping quarters for a week without paying for his boarding just to escape from his concocted and imagined arrest, the country is getting its money’s worth by the President’s selfless dedication to his constitutional duty of serving and protecting the people,” Panelo said in a statement.
“We assure our people that the President is more than able to fulfill his commitment to the nation,” he added.
The President recently skipped several key events at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore because he was taking a power nap.
Some groups however have criticized the President’s decision to miss work while on an official trip abroad. Trillanes even claimed that the President’s naps indicated he was seriously ill or simply too lazy and irresponsible, saying this was a “big problem” for the country.
Panelo however hit back at Trillanes for his latest “publicity” stunt to malign Duterte, saying the former rebel soldier could “not fathom the nature and sacrifices of the Office of the President.”
He said Trillanes wasted people’s money that paid for his schooling in the Philippine Military Academy when he launched failed military uprisings against the government. He noted that the former rebel soldier spent eight years of “unremarkable military service with no combat experience.”
“Not having spent the spartan way of life in the military with the industriousness, diligence, and discipline that a dedicated officer imbues himself with, he necessarily cannot comprehend that a man like the President could work like hell as if there is no tomorrow, with the passion and dedication found only in men and women who consecrate themselves to the service of the nation without regard to the limits that their physique can reach,” he said.
Panelo downplayed the President’s absence in some ASEAN meetings, saying such activities did not require his physical presence anyway.
He said the few ASEAN events Duterte skipped only required him only to read prepared statements “a similar requirement given to the other heads of states, which task could be performed by the countries’ foreign secretaries or ministers.”
He admitted that President at times loses sleep due to his grueling work schedule and have to take power naps.
“Despite the lingering pain caused by an accident that he constantly endures, he administers to the affairs of the state without regard to time and condition,” he said.
“With this kind of zest for work it becomes unavoidable that the President loses sleep that nourishes the body. In such a situation he will have no recourse but to take power naps between official activities,” he said.
He said this was the situation when the President had to skip attending a few events in the ASEAN summit.
“Accusation that the President is lazy or seriously ill to perform his functions as Head of State and Government just because he had to take power naps in between a few events to catch on some sleep and energize himself and avoid the embarrassment of dozing off during one of the meetings ( as one of a head of state pitifully succumbed to due to the energy sapping daily activities ) is a product of a witless if not a malicious mind,” he said.
Aside from Duterte, Panelo pointed out that US President Donald Trump and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon missed some summit meetings.
He said Trump sent US Vice President Mike Pence to represent him in the ASEAN summit because he was unable to make it.
Lee, who was the chairman for this year’s gathering, also had to be represented in two of the meetings he was presiding because he was indisposed, accordion to Panelo.
“Their absence in those meetings did not make them lazy or seriously ill to perform their duties as Presidents of the their respective countries,” he said.
Despite skipping some activities, Panelo maintained that Duterte attended important events in the Singapore summit.
He said such events involved the discussion of mutual concerns among the ASEAN members as well as meetings with other top leaders of non-ASEAN countries that affect the security, stability and economy of the region “where he vigorously articulated and espoused ideas and theories that could bring about solutions to the Asian countries’ collective problems.”
He said the nation has seen the President has “chained himself to a punishing work ethic,” citing his frequent trips to provinces especially during calamities and emergencies.
He said the President has traveled outside the Palace to address the needs of the hapless victims of war and disaster stricken areas, to condole and assist with families of slain soldiers and policemen, and raise the spirits of those engaged in law enforcement.
He said the President also “stops the hands of clock as he pores over documents concerning governance till the wee hours of the morning.”
He said the President likewise directs the armed forces and the national police
to dismantle the drug apparatus, to maintain peace and order, to stop corruption, and to run relentlessly against all violators of law as well as undertake measures to improve the economy. ”
“Not having been given the enormous constitutional duty of governing the country, Senator Trillanes, who after having been undeservingly released from jail owing to a flawed amnesty grant, continues to perform acts against the constituted authorities even using the Senate to shield him from his criminal acts, and having ignored the demands of ethical refinements , as well as not having the common sense traits of a street smart individual, he therefore, expectedly and necessarily, will not, and probably can not, fathom the nature and the sacrifices of the Office of the President,” he said.
After the summit in Singapore, Duterte traveled to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on November 17 and 18.