MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to return to Manila on or before Tuesday to attend a scheduled meeting with top officials on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this announcement as he explained that the President’s visit to his hometown, Davao City, will be a short one since he has to prioritize work.
“Sandali lang po. Alam ko po ay mayroong meeting na naka-schedule sa Malacañang ng Tuesday (It will be a short visit. I know he has a scheduled meeting in Malacañang on Tuesday),” Roque said in an interview over DZBB on Saturday.
Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go accompanied Duterte on his trip to Davao City, he added.
He justified Duterte’s return to his hometown, saying he was also there to assess the situation in Mindanao, which is now under general community quarantine (GCQ).
“Alam ko magiging isyu ito pero huwag nating kalimutan na iyong ginawa naman ng ating Presidente na pag-uwi sa Davao, hindi lang pagbisita after 67 days kung hindi Presidente rin siya. Kinakailangan niya namang malaman kung ano ang nangyayari sa Mindanao ‘no dahil ang buong Mindanao ngayon po ay bumabalik na sa normal. So hindi po naman maaalis sa katungkulan ng Presidente iyan ‘no (I know this will be an issue but let’s not forget that the President’s return to Davao is not just to visit after 67 days but also because he’s President. He needs to know what’s happening in Mindanao because the whole of Mindanao is now back to normal. So you cannot remove that duty from the President),” he said.
Roque, meanwhile, assured that the Presidential Security Group (PSG) has made it a point that the President observed all health and safety protocols in his flight back to his hometown.
“Si President po kasi continuous quarantine eh, maski nagmi-meeting po kami sa kaniya ay naka-isolate po siya, malayo siya sa amin. So talagang binabantayan po siya at iniingatan po ng PSG (The President is on a continuous quarantine. Even when we hold meetings with him, he’s isolated, he sits far from us. So the PSG is really guarding and taking care of him),” he said,
On Saturday, PSG Commander, Col. Jesus Durante III confirmed that Duterte flew home to Davao City after the community quarantine in Metro Manila was relaxed.
“Yes. He (Duterte) is in Davao for a visit after more than two months of not being able to see his family,” Durante said in a text message to reporters.
Duterte has been staying in Malacañan Palace in Manila since he imposed an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the most stringent community quarantine, in the entire Luzon on March 16.
He was supposed to return to his hometown, Davao City to join his family in celebrating the 16th birthday of his youngest child, Veronica, on April 10.
Duterte, however, decided to stay in Manila for over two months to monitor his administration’s Covid-19 response efforts.
In a speech on April 16, Duterte bared that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte stopped him from flying to his hometown and that he himself had no choice but to follow the quarantine guidelines set by the city government.
He admitted that declaring a quarantine was “a cruel action by government” but said it was necessary to prevent more people from getting infected by the disease.
“This thing about quarantine is a cruel action by the government. Hindi madali ito. Pati ako nasasaktan. The problem is kung magdikit-dikit uli (It’s not easy. I also feel hurt. The problem is if there is crowding again),” he said.
Duterte, meanwhile, appealed to local government units and the public to follow guidelines.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Zambales were placed under modified ECQ (MECQ) from May 16 to 31, based on Resolution 37 inked by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on May 15. Only the cities of Cebu and Mandaue in Cebu province remained under ECQ.
All places nationwide that are not under ECQ or MECQ were placed under GCQ. (IA/PNA)