PRESIDENT Duterte late Monday night denied rumors that he was airlifted for medical emergency purposes to Singapore during the weekend and said he has been stuck at his residence in Davao City since last week in compliance with strict quarantine regulations imposed in Metro Manila as a strategy to stifle soaring COVID-19 infections.
The President said he has been staying in his home to avoid being infected with the virus, as per the advice of his doctors and the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
Duterte added a true leader should never travel and leave his constituents during a crisis.
“Ang isang leader would always stay where the crisis is. Hindi ka dapat maglagalag kung may problema ang bayan. Napakababa naman ang tingin ninyo sa akin kung ganun. Well, be that as it may, hindi po ako ganun just to disabuse your mind (A leader would always stay where the crisis is. You should not be travelling if your country has a problem. You think very low of me if you believe that [Singapore trip]. Well, be that as it may, I am not like that, just to disabuse your mind),” he said.
Besides, Duterte said that if had wanted to fly to Singapore or any other country, especially for a private trip using money from his own pockets, he can do so without informing the public because he, too, is entitled to the constitutional right to travel like any other Filipino.
“Let me be very frank, if I want to go to Singapore, I will go to Singapore. If it is a private undertaking or if I want to attend the burial of a friend or to pay a visit to a wake, I will go there fly-in, fly-out. You know, if I really want to leave, I will go. I do not have to keep it a secret because I will not be using any government funds,” Duterte said in mixed English and Filipino in a public address aired after his meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He said he has never gone out of the country using government funds and all trips that had he had made abroad were official.
Prior to his meeting with his Cabinet, his long time aid Sen. Christopher Go posted in his social media account a photo of the President with his family in their home in Davao City and later on went on live video with the President on their way to the meeting.
A Facebook post which went viral last Saturday had said that a special medical jet took off from Singapore and flew to Davao City, and a few hours later returned to Singapore.
Speculations were rife that the jet carried the President.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Monday night said the President was “fine” as he parried questions on why one of the eyes of the President was drooping or was smaller as seen in social media photos and video.
Roque said he did not notice anything different about the President, adding that Duterte had always had some problem with his eye. Last year, the President mentioned that he was suffering from a rare auto-immune neuromuscular disease that causes one of his eyelids to droop.
Roque said Duterte will fly back to Metro Manila within the week.