Absent from Duterte briefing because of All Saints’ Day.
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel Piñol yesterday apologized and explained the reason for his absence from a post-Typhoon Rosita briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte in Isabela on Saturday when the Chief Executive reportedly scolded him.
Piñol, in a Facebook post, said “nothing could be farther from the truth” regarding his absence during the Isabela briefing.
He said his absence was due to his having to attend an All Souls’ Day tradition with his family.
“When I received the advisory that the President would visit the typhoon affected areas, my staff informed the Office of the President that I would not be able to make it because of the traditional family obligation of visiting, offering flowers and lighting candles on the graves of our departed relatives, including my father,” he said.
In fact, Piñol said the Office of the President was informed that Department of Agriculture Director Narciso Edillo would represent him and provide the briefing on his behalf, which he said is not an uncommon practice.
A newspaper report on Saturday said Duterte had scolded Piñol for his “no show” at the command conference in Isabela.
“I think somebody has to call the attention of Manny,” Duterte was quoted as saying, referring to Piñol.
The President also reportedly said that Piñol was likewise absent when he visited the same province during the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong.
Piñol, however, said this was “highly inaccurate,” as he was with Duterte in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Benguet during that time, but he was represented by an undersecretary in Isabela.
He also said he informed the President that he would not be able to make it to Isabela that time.
“Although this is no justification for officials like me who are sworn to serve, I begged off from the Isabela visit because of a revered family tradition of spending All Souls and All Saints Day with our loved ones,” Piñol said.
“I have never missed visiting the graves of my father and relatives on this occasion, a tradition which I am passing on to my children and grandchildren,” he added.
Nevertheless, Piñol expressed regrets if the Office of the President was not able to inform Duterte about his request to be represented in the command conference in Isabela.
“Allow me to publicly apologize to the President for my absence in Isabela,” he said.
“Personally, I interpret the President’s act of looking for the Agriculture Secretary in the briefing as an indication of the importance he gives to the welfare of farmers and fishermen affected by the Typhoon,” he added.
Piñol said he would go to Isabela on Monday to meet with and provide assistance to poultry raisers affected by the typhoon.
He also vowed to work on the directives that Duterte gave during his visit to Isabela.