After four days of President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence from the public eye, #NasaanAngPangulo trended on Twitter. Amidst the search for the President and raised concerns about his health, Malacañang released photos of Duterte working in Bahay Pagbabago and arriving in Villamor Air Base on June 15.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) also released a photo of Duterte in Villamor Air Base as he was reportedly departing Manila for Davao City on the same day.
According to the Inquirer report, Go told reporters that the photos he sent of Duterte looking over some documents were taken at Bahay Pagbabago at 5:52pm on June 15.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella earlier said that the President is “well” and that he just took the time off “to rest” and “to rejuvenate” after “fulfilling his martial law supervision.
However, several senators are asking for full disclosure about the President’s health, especially after rumors surfaced about his physical condition.
Senator Leila De Lima said Duterte’s health is of public interest and a matter of national security.
“The public needs to be fully informed. Knowing the truth about the President’s state of health is both a matter of public interest and national security,” she said in a statement from Camp Crame on June 15.
“For the past several days, the men and women of our uniformed service have remained in their post, have continued to discharge their solemn duty to defend the Filipino people, and some have even made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Amidst their continued and constant service, where is the President? Where is our Commander-in-Chief?” she added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also voiced out the same sentiment in a statement on June 16.
“The health of the president of any country is not his or his family’s private affair alone. It is a matter of public concern. Having said that, it behooves Malacañang to disclose the current state of health of the President if only to quell any speculation about his health. The public deserves nothing less,” Lacson said.
“They will surely understand that PRRD is presently exposed to all kinds of stress and physical exhaustion due to the numerous problems besetting the country, not to mention the sight of our soldiers being transported in coffins by military aircraft with all the grieving families waiting to bring them to their respective provinces. That indeed is very stressful,” Lacson added.
Asking for transparency, Senator Francis Pangilinan said, “While I accept the explanation of Malacañang that he was tired and needed rest, the 4-day absence was a concern considering the current situation. Having said that, if the President has a medical condition preventing him from fulfilling his duties as Commander-in-Chief and is not simply ‘just resting’ then the public deserves to know the truth.”
De Lima also noted how Article 7, Section XII of the 1987 Constitution deems it Malacañang’s “moral obligation” to stay transparent about the President’s condition.
“Of course, Malacañang is well within the constitutional bounds when it refuses to fully inform the public about the President’s ‘vacation,’ but it is also its moral obligation to go beyond what the Constitution requires. This is called transparency and accountability, two words that are already lost to this administration and its senior cabinet officials,” she said.