MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health and undergoes regular reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab tests to ensure he is fit to perform his duty as the country’s highest elected official, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied that the President left the country amid rumors that Duterte flew to Singapore over the weekend to receive emergency medical treatment.
“Fake news po yung pag-alis ng Pilipinas ng ating Presidente. Nananatili po siya sa Davao. Hindi po siya umaalis ng Pilipinas and his health is fine (Reports that he left the country is fake news. He remains in Davao. He didn’t leave the country and his health is fine),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.
To ensure Duterte’s health and safety after a Cabinet member tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Roque said the scheduled meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Monday night will be done “virtually”.
“Kung kami po’y di nagtuloy ng Davao kasi nag-positive nga si (Interior) Secretary (Eduardo) Año (If we didn’t push through with meeting in Davao, it’s because Secretary Año tested positive), it’s just concern also for the health of the President and in compliance with health protocols,” he said.
Several Cabinet members, including Roque, have also decided to self-isolate.
Roque said Duterte is in “perpetual isolation” in the sense that Cabinet members are not allowed to come close to him. If they do, they have to stay six feet away and wear face masks and face shields.
“Whenever we meet with him, there is a velvet rope that keeps him at least six feet away from everyone else. So, no one can really come close to the President. So, I guess my answer is he’s in perpetual isolation in the sense that (Presidential Security Group) has done a very good job in making sure that no one really comes close to the President,” he said.
Roque later clarified this in a statement, saying perpetual isolation refers to a figure of speech to highlight the “prudence” exercised by the PSG in safeguarding the President’s physical well-being.
“Much as he wanted, for instance, to shake the hands of those present during his fifth State of the Nation Address, the PSG discouraged PRRD from doing so as part of the precautionary measure of maintaining physical distance,” he said.
As an added precaution, Duterte also gets regular RT-PCR or swab tests.
“He does undergo regular PCR tests. Nagrereklamo nga siya dahil paulit-ulit na iyong pagsundot sa ilong niya (He even complains about having his nose swabbed repeatedly),” he said
Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte, he added, also requires all persons flying in and out of the city to undergo swabbing.
Since he assumed the presidency, Duterte’s health has always been at the center of speculations.
In November 2019, he admitted that age is taking a toll on his health but maintained that these health issues will not hinder him from performing his duties as President.
Duterte suffers from back problems, migraines, and Buerger’s disease — an inflammation of small- and medium-sized blood vessels. (PNA)