Duterte skips Palo barangay summit

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte skipped the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order that he was supposed to lead in Palo, Leyte Friday afternoon, his former top presidential aide said.

In a text message, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go said that the President is "not feeling well", prompting the latter to skip the event.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a text message, defended Duterte's absence in the said event, saying the President is not some superhero who can cope up with all commitments.

"He (President Duterte) is not Superman, every person does not feel well sometimes. I don't feel well now and I'm also canceling my appointment later this afternoon," he said.

The Palace official then said the President's absence should not worry anyone, adding that Duterte should instead be commended for knowing when to rest.

"I don't think that the President canceling an event in Tacloban because he is not feeling well is a cause of concern," Panelo said.

"We should, in fact, commend the President for knowing when to cancel a trip and resting his body if he is not feeling his usual strong self," he added.

The president was supposed to give a speech to over 3,000 village chairs from Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Samar provinces.

Teresita Briton, a participant who traveled for four hours from Pintuyan, Southern Leyte expressed disappointment on the president's absence.

"We traveled from 3 a.m. because we wanted to see him so we could air our concerns regarding our barangays, but we cannot do anything about it," she said.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año thanked the participants for their efforts in gracing the event.

Said Barangay Summit aimed to provide an opportunity to discuss the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG's) programs, plans and activities to eradicate illegal drugs, criminality, corruption and violent extremism in the country.

"Naniniwala ako na kayo ang tunay na instrumento ng pagbabago dahil kayo ang tinatawag na "little presidents" sa inyong mga barangay," Año said.

The summit also served as a venue to discuss national and local issues facing barangay governance to newly-elected barangay officials in the region.

This is the first time this year that Duterte skipped a scheduled event to rest. The last time was during the national commemoration of the 122nd anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal at Rizal Park, Davao City.

Duterte also skipped some summits during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore in November last year to take a nap because of his "punishing schedule". (With a report from Marie Tonette Marticio)