President Duterte has ended his two-week absence with a televised address Monday night, admitting he deliberately stayed out of the public eye.
Addressing the nation, the President explained that he decided to stay away to spite his critics who kept taunting him.
“Noong nawala ako ng ilang araw, talagang sinadya ko ‘yon, ganoon ako eh. Pagka kinakalkal mo ako lalo akong — ‘yong parang bata. Pagka lalo mo akong kinakantyawan eh mas lalo akong gagana (When I was gone for some days, I intentionally did that. That’s how I am. When you look for me, like a kid, when you tease me, I will act more),” Duterte said at the start of his speech.
Duterte also defended that he could go home to Davao City whenever he wanted to since he is a resident there. He claimed that his travel expense was not shouldered by government anyway.
“I never pretended to be a resident of Sampaloc or Sta. Ana. Sinabi ko my residence is the city of Davao,” said Duterte, who has stayed in Manila since Holy Week after a strict lockdown was imposed in National Capital Region Plus.
“If I want to go home there, on reasonable basis, I can because that’s my home. And if I want to be unreasonable about… ginagawa ko rin ‘yan. Tutal naman ang pamasahe ko hindi sa gobyerno (I can do that. Besides, my airfare is not paid for by the government) so I go home just to be there and come back the following day,” he added.
Duterte also said he missed his daughter’s birthday since he was busy with paperwork, including the documents related to food security and agriculture in Manila. He said he wanted to ensure the documents were lawful. The Chief Executive was apparently referring to his recent directive on the temporary reduction of import tariffs on pork products to improve local supply and stabilize prices.
Duterte was supposed to address the nation last week but the event was canceled after several Presidential Security Group personnel became infected with the coronavirus disease.
PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III explained that they recommended the cancelation of the President’s activity to minimize his exposure to the virus but assured that measures are in place to ensure Duterte remained safe and secured.
The President’s last televised address was on March 29 when he issued directives, including the imposing new quarantine classification this month and allowing private sector to buy vaccines “at will.”
Rumors about his alleged poor health surfaced, prompting his former aide and now Senator Christopher Go to post photos of the President jogging at night, riding a motorbike, and playing golf.
The Palace later gave assurances that the President remained safe and healthy to perform his duties as the country’s leader.