Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez has vouched for the good health condition of President Duterte amid rumors that he is sick after he skipped his regular once-a-week public appearance to address the Filipino people amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said Duterte was actually very well, jolly, and active during their meeting on Monday.
“Okay naman po siya. He is very well, talagang very jolly siya, and he is very active (He is okay. He is very well, really very jolly, and he is very active),” Galvez said in a TV interview over ABSCBN News Channel (ANC) when asked about Duterte’s condition.
Duterte’s appearance was the first in two weeks since he went missing from public engagements, record-high coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections were noted, and National Capital Region and nearby regions were placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
This resulted in various speculations about the health of Duterte, with some alleging that he suffered stroke, was infected with COVID-19, or died.
But Galvez said that Duterte must have been only taking extra care due to the rapid increase of infections, particularly among members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG). It was reported that 45 PSG members were infected with COVID-19.
Aside from this, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Defense Secretary and NTF Chairman Delfin Lorenzana also caught the coronavirus during the said period.
“For security reason, most probably nagkaroon po ng suspension [of Duterte’s engagements] (For security reason, most probably there was a suspension [of Duterte’s engagements]),” Galvez said.
Duterte, during the Cabinet meeting, said he intentionally missed public appearances to spite his critics.
“Nawala ako ng ilang araw talagang sinadya ko ‘yon. Ganoon ako eh. You know, baka patay na (I was gone for a few days but I did it on purpose. I am like that. You know, maybe he’s dead),” he said.
“If you want me to die early, you must pray harder. Actually what you intend or what you would like to happen is to see me go. You want me to go and you are praying for that,” he added.
Offering proof of life, Duterte’s long-time aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go posted pictures of Duterte playing golf at night, jogging, and riding his motorbikes amid the President’s long absence from public eye.