Duterte makes public appearance after 6-day hiatus; prolonged absence not health-related

MANILA, Philippines - After a six-day hiatus from the public eye, President Rodrigo Duterte led the Eid al-Fitr celebration at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang on Tuesday, June 27.

Duterte makes public appearance after 6-day hiatus
Photo Credit: Facebook/Presidential Communications
Duterte spoke before Muslim leaders headed by Mohaqher Iqbal, the chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The president’s prolonged absence has fueled speculations about his health prompting the Malacañang to reveal the reason why the 72-year-old leader has been out of the public eye for six straight days.

During a chance interview with the press, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s nearly weeklong absence is not caused by his health. According to him, the president took a break from public events and activities in order to work on documents that need to be studied or signed.

"He is alive and well. He is very well. He is just busy with what he really needs to do," Abella said.

Abella added:”Being out of the public eye is really when he gets to work…The thing important to know is he is on top of every situation.”

He was last seen on June 20 during his visit in an evacuation center in Iligan City and a Cagayan de Oro military hospital.

However, a Palace official claimed that the president was busy with public events after June 20. Duterete supposedly attended wakes on June 22 and 23 and was at a private dinner on June 24.

This is the third and longest prolonged period of rest that Duterte has taken. Last February, Duterte went missing on the public eye for four days. Meanwhile, his 5-day absence from June 12 to 16 made him miss the Independence Day rites.

Duterte, the oldest president the country has had, suffers at least four ailments including Buerger’s disease and Barrett’s esophagus. He previously admitted to having used an oxygen concentrator for respiratory ailments as well as fentanyl, a powerful painkiller.

The president has dismissed questions about his health since the 2016 presidential campaign.

-- Mini, The Summit Express

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