The hashtag #NasaaAngPangulo (Where is the President?) trended in social media anew as Filipinos online looked for President Duterte after the cancellation of his weekly public address and rumors that the Chief Executive suffered a mild stroke.
The hashtag rose to Twitter’s trending topics on Wednesday night with over 8,000 tweets asking for the President’s whereabouts following the recent rumors surrounding his health.
This prompted Duterte’s long-time aide Senator Bong Go to post photos of himself with Duterte inside his residence in Malacañang late Wednesday evening.
Photos posted on Go’s Facebook page showed Duterte seated behind a table cluttered with documents and a pile of newspapers. Go was standing on the other side of the table.
“Sa mga may masasamang hangarin, ‘wag muna kayo mag celebrate (To those who have ill intentions, do not celebrate just yet)!!!” Go wrote in his post.
“Nandito lang si Tatay Digong. Tambak ang trabaho (The President is just here, drowning in work),” he added.
Duterte’s last public appearance was on March 29 in a meeting with the government’s pandemic task force.
Questions about the President’s health rose after Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte’s weekly public address, usually held on Mondays, was moved to Wednesday, April 7. However, he announced that Duterte’s address was moved to next week.
Roque’s announcement was followed by rumors that the President suffered from a mild stroke, the information supposedly coming from a “reliable source” of a news website. Malacañang officials quickly dismissed the report as fake news.
Netizens also wondered if Duterte was in Singapore following the news that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio flew to the said country early this week. Carpio explained that her trip was for personal health reasons.
The rumors prompted Malacañang to detail the reason why the President’s weekly public address was pushed to next week. Roque said this was because some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) had tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The physical safety of the President remains our utmost concern,” Roque said.
“The preparation for the Talk to the People Address entails a number of staff complement and we also take due consideration of their well-being,” he added.
PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III confirmed on Wednesday that there were 45 active COVID-19 cases in his unit but quickly ensured that none of them was part of President Duterte’s close-in security.
“Rest assured that the president is safe and in good health,” Durante said, adding that the incident has not hampered the PSG from performing its duties.
Meanwhile, Go said that the President regularly undergoes swab testing for COVID-19. The result of his last test taken during the Holy Week came back negative for the disease.