PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is “strong” and “upbeat,” Malacañang said yesterday, dismissing fresh speculations that the Chief Executive got seriously ill and was hospitalized amid his prolonged absence from the spotlight since last week.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said “nothing happened” to Duterte since he was last seen in public on May 13 when he cast his vote in Davao City. Since then, he was out of the limelight.
However, on Sunday, May 19, Malacañang was forced to release photos of him showing the May 19 issue of national broadsheets to dispel talk about Duterte being confined at a hospital due to illness.
Panelo said he talked to Duterte over the phone on Sunday to ask about his condition.
“He never mentioned anything, but from the sound of his voice, he is upbeat,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He reiterated Duterte was just in Bahay Pagbabago in Malacañang signing papers.
“He is just in Bahay Pagbabago signing papers. I talked to him yesterday (Sunday), his voice was very strong,” he said.
The President, he said, just laughed off rumors he was seriously ill and was brought to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City
“He just laughed [about it],” he said.
But in his statement on Sunday, Panelo said Duterte was “neither confirming nor denying he went to the hospital.”
“Sabi niya he neither confirmed nor denied. You draw your own conclusions,” he said.
Panelo then assured the public Duterte would “always tell the public” if there is something serious about his health.
“In other words, ano sa kanya, it’s not a serious matter kasi kung serious ‘yun, he always tells the public about it. Hindi ba, he tells you ‘pag meron siyang, nag-punta siya, nag-patingin siya ng ganito,” he said.
“Eh, it started as a tsismis, eh ‘di pinabayaan na lang. Kaya lang, since maraming nagtatanong sa inyo, I have to issue a formal statement, as per request of most of you,” he added.
Asked if Duterte fell ill over the weekend, he said: “Hindi. Wala siyang sinabi. Lakas-lakas eh.”
But was the President hospitalized?
“Definitely, it’s not true,” Panelo said.
“Sabi ko na nga, you can draw your own conclusions doon sa sinabi niyang, ‘I neither confirmed nor denied’,” he added.
The Palace official said Duterte was just in Bahay Pagbabago after he arrived in Manila on Friday.
“Hindi ko alam kung anong ginawa niya last week. He never told me anything about it. Ang alam ko lang, Friday nandito na siya. Tapos parang sinabi yata, the day after the election, nagpapahinga siya,” he said.
Panelo also said Duterte had a “private time” with his partner Honeylet and daughter over the weekend.