President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was “waiting for the typhoon to pass” and visited the resting place of his late parents, the reason for his absence in the government’s first briefing on its response to Super Typhoon “Rolly.”
In a Cabinet meeting aired over PTV-4, Duterte said while he failed to make it to the briefing because of the typhoon, he really intended to be there as soon as the weather permitted. He called those who criticized his supposed absence as “ugok.”
“Itong mga ugok naman sinabi na wala ako (These idiots, they’re saying I was absent), I was waiting for the typhoon to pass, then lumipad ako (I flew),” he said.
He said he spent the weekend in Davao City before the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
“Kami taga probinsya, we travel almost with regularity, bakasyon, all Souls’ Day, kaya nga ako nauwi (We from the province, we travel almost with regularity, vacation, all Souls’ Day, that’s why I went home),” he said.
Duterte said he could not skip his tradition of paying respects to his late parents.
“You know kung wala kayong patay, okay lang. Kami may mga pamatay, kailangan umuwi kami doon sa amin (if you don’t have deceased loved ones, it’s okay. Us, we have that’s why we need to return home),” he said. He added that he and the Cabinet members were not present due to the typhoon.
“Kaming lahat wala because may bagyo eh, ngayon, I was waiting for… yung tail end ng bagyo then lumipad ako (We (Cabinet members) were not present because there’s a typhoon, I was waiting for the tail end of the typhoon then I flew),” he added.
Duterte’s absence from the first two typhoon response briefings was criticized on social media, but many officials said the President is on top of the situation and monitoring developments while in Davao City.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President was monitoring developments on the typhoon from his home.
He said all concerned agencies are on “red alert” status to maximize their capacity to respond to the people’s needs.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad noted that Duterte had the luxury of monitoring developments from his home since he was confident that the local and national governments are “functioning.”
“Dapat hindi mangamba ang ating mga kababayan bakit hindi nila nakikita si Presidente (Our countrymen shouldn’t worry that they can’t see the President) because he has that luxury, the government is functioning from the local government unit up to the national level,” he added.
On Monday afternoon, Duterte conducted an aerial inspection in Guinobatan, Albay and visited affected residents there.He also ordered concerned agencies to ensure that residents are given food and cash assistance and ensure that there is clean water in areas hit by the typhoon. PNA