Palace on Rody’s HK trip.
“President Rodrigo Duterte deserves a break.”
So said a Malacañang official as he defended yesterday Duterte’s unscheduled trip to Hong Kong last Saturday amid criticism that the weekend break was ill-timed, amid questions about his health and especially at a time when the country is facing surging inflation.
Duterte, along with his common-law partner Honeylet Avanceña, and their daughter Veronica “Kitty” Duterte, on Saturday hit the streets of Hong Kong, with photos of them shopping at a popular clothing retailer and eating at a restaurant.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea shrugged off the criticisms, saying the 73-year-old President deserves a break from his work.
“He [Duterte] has been working since June 30, 2016. Can they not allow him a weekend break?” Medialdea said in a text message.
Some netizens found the “outing” improper when the country is staggering from the 6.7 percent inflation in September, the highest in over nine years.
Earlier on Sunday, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who is joining the Hong Kong trip, posted on social media pictures of the weekend break. He said he posted the photos to preempt so-called “fake news.”
“Bago maunahan pa ng mga fake news kailangan din magpahinga ng Pangulo,” Go said in his caption.
Like Medialdea, Go said the President and his family traveled to the bustling Chinese special administrative region for a break, and that the President will return to the country this Sunday.
Duterte’s trip came days after he admitted that he spent an hour last Wednesday at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City for some physical tests, a follow-up to the endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures he underwent weeks ago, contradicting his spokesperson Harry Roque’s claim that the President only took a day off on that day.
Roque later said he was not aware of the hospital visit.
The President earlier said he is suffering from a “bad case” of Barrett’s esophagus, which according to the Mayo Clinic is “associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.”
Duterte himself floated the idea that he would not seek treatment if diagnosed by doctors with stage 3 cancer.
The President is expected to leave the country again as he is set to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia on October 11.