PRESIDENT Duterte is resuming activities outside of Malacañang minus the usual handshakes, hugging, and “selfies” because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.
Nograles, in an interview with radio dzBB, said while the President still wants to entertain people who want to get close to him, the Presidential Security Group (PSG), the Presidential management Staff, and people involved in protocols need to impose restrictions to keep Duterte safe.
“Hindi rin pwede basta lumapit kay Pangulo. Makikita ninyo na very strict, pinipili lang kung sino ang pwedeng lumapit (You cannot just approach the President, you will see that it is very strict, only a selected few can get close to the President),” he said.
Duterte last Thursday inaugurated school buildings in Bulacan and Valenzuela City before welcoming the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. On Sunday last week, he also welcomed the Sinovac vaccines at the air base.
“Dati may mga selfie-selfie, pa-picture-picture gusto ni Pangulo iyun, pero with the present (situation), hindi na pwede ngayon (Before there were selfies, picture-taking which the President also wants but with the present situation, it cannot be allowed),” Nograles said.
The 75-year-old President had limited engagements outside Malacañang and even stayed at the Bahay Pagbabago across the Malacañan Palace for months during the implementation of lockdowns that started in March last year.
Duterte started returning to Davao City only after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila was eased to a general community quarantine (GCQ) in June last year.
He often conducts online meetings and has limited physical engagement in Malacañang. He addresses the public weekly through his “Talk to the People” to update the public on government efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President said he has yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He has expressed preference for the vaccine made by China’s Sinopharm but said he is waiting for his physicians’ advice on what vaccine would be good for him.