MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte is just an ordinary human who does not feel well at times, Malacañang said Friday after he skipped a scheduled event in Leyte.
“Well, he is not Superman, every person does not feel well sometimes. I don’t think that the President cancelling an event in Tacloban because he is not feeling well is a cause of concern,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said the President knows when to excuse himself and skip an event.
“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 said.
Duterte was supposed to attend the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Palo, Leyte on Friday afternoon.
In Duterte’s absence, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año delivered the speech on the President’s behalf.
Año officially announced the cancellation of the President’s visit in front of 3,000 local officials in Eastern Visayas inside the Leyte Academic Center in this town.
Prior to Año’s speech, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go told reporters in Manila that the President skipped the summit as he was “not feeling well.”
When asked by reporters, Año said he got a message from the Palace about the President’s change of schedule just minutes before the Cabinet official went on stage.
Among the top local government officials present were Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, and Southern Leyte Governor Damian Mercado.
Village chiefs said they have been invited by the DILG early this week to join the summit with the President as the keynote speaker.
Año asked officials to lead the campaign against illegal drugs and help the police bring all drug pushers to jail.
The DILG chief also asked local officials to actively take part in the drive against insurgency, and terrorism.
“We are all aware that the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) will never win. Their fight in the past 50 years has been senseless and they are irrelevant nowadays. Never allow terrorists to penetrate your communities,” he said.
He also urged officials to help fight corruption, enforce environmental laws, and maintain cleanliness in their villages.
“You are the little presidents, the chief executive in your community. You have the power to implement national and local laws, as well as village ordinances,” Año told the crowd.
The summit aims to orient the newly-elected or minted village officials of the government’s campaign to eradicate illegal drugs, criminality, corruption, and violent extremism; capacitate the village officials of their respective functions, roles and responsibilities; and to give village officials an opportunity to discuss with national officials the issues that affect their everyday lives. (PNA) By Earl Jed Roque and Sarwell Meniano