By: Philip C. Tubeza - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Yes, the President has gone AWOL for days—but so had his predecessor.
A Palace official on Thursday took a dig at former President Benigno Aquino III as he defended President Duterte’s absences from the public eye.
“It’s just different workloads. Some people, you know, they play PlayStation, whatever, but you have—some people are more… Some people are just busier,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters in a press briefing, adding that Mr. Duterte’s time for rest had “not ended.”
Critics of Aquino during his term as President claimed that he spent too much time playing video games on Sony’s PlayStation—a claim Mr. Aquino had denied, saying it was not even his favorite pastime.
Asked to comment on Abella’s statement, Abigail Valte, spokesperson of Aquino, said there was no need to issue a counterstatement “because we do not feel alluded to.”
Mr. Duterte’s conspicuous absence from Monday to Thursday last week has sparked public concern, but was brushed off by Malacañang, saying the President simply got “tired” and needed some “private time” to rest.
After visiting wounded soldiers in Cagayan de Oro and evacuees in Iligan on Tuesday, Mr. Duterte had no scheduled public event on Wednesday and Thursday.
“That’s his style… Each of us has his own work mode,” Abella said.
“First of all, his rest [period] is not yet over. But on the other hand, we’ve seen that he works continuously,” he said.
Some senators have urged Malacañang to be more forthcoming about the President’s health, especially with the crisis in Marawi, but Mr. Duterte said opposition senators were only interested to hear about his death.
The Duterte administration marks its first year in office on June 30 but Abella said there are no planned celebrations.
“You know, it actually feels like three years already, right? Considering the amount of work to be done, considering the challenges and all the matters that have been addressed,” Abella said.
He said he hoped Filipinos were more united.
“I certainly hope—I mean this is just my opinion but since you asked—I wish that people would be more united in appreciating and not act as if they were not Filipinos,” he said.—WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKO DIZON