President Rodrigo Duterte did not attend Thursday’s Cabinet meeting held via Zoom, a day after he canceled his scheduled public address “Talk to the People” for the second time this week.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, however, said the Chief Executive, who turned 76 last week, remains “fit and healthy” despite his age.
Duterte was supposed to give a public address last Monday but it was moved to Wednesday and then again to next week.
“We thank the Filipino people for voicing their concern and wishing the Chief Executive’s strength and good health during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Roque said in a statement.
The Palace official said the supposed public address was canceled after several members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) tested positive for COVID-19.
Roque said Duterte had no plan to hide anything about his health.
The Chief Executive, he said, remained “very transparent” when it came to the real status of his health.
Filipinos took to social media on Wednesday night with their speculations on reasons for the absence of the President from the public eye, making the #NasaanAngPangulo trending on Twitter.
“The President regularly undergoes swab tests and so far, he is negative based on his last swab test,” according to Roque, adding it was during the Holy Week that the President took his swab test that turned out to be negative.
This was also confirmed by Senator Christopher Go, a close associate of Duterte.
But despite the negative result of his latest swab test results aside, Go said the President could not leave things to chance.
“There’s nothing to worry but we cannot take chances. We cannot risk it though the President wants to go out,” said Go, Duterte’s former presidential aide.
In related developments, Duterte’s high approval and trust ratings show that Filipinos are “generally happy” with his leadership, Malacañang said Thursday.
Roque made this remark in response to the first quarter poll of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. which rated the performance of top government officials.
Duterte remains to be the top government official with the highest approval and trust rating at 65 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
Roque expressed gratitude to the public for making Duterte “the most approved and the most trusted national public official in the country.”
“The latest survey results send a clear message that our people are generally happy with the leadership and performance of the President,” he said.
He assured the public that the high approval and trust rating would inspire Duterte to work harder.
“This strong public confidence would certainly motivate and inspire the President, along with the members of the Cabinet, to work harder to serve the people, especially during this time of global health crisis,” he added.
The PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. survey, conducted from March 20 to 29, rated the performance of the country’s top five government officials namely Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta.
Sotto finished second place to Duterte in terms of approval, with a 41 percent approval rating and a 25 percent trust rating. Robredo, who secured the third spot in terms of approval, registered a 29 percent approval rating and a 19 percent trust rating. Peralta registered a 28 percent approval rating and a 15 percent trust rating.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, who was last on the list in terms of approval, registered a 25 percent approval rating and a 15 percent trust rating.