PRESIDENT Duterte on Monday night rejected the “no touch” policy imposed by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to ensure his health and safety amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying he prefers not just to shake the hands of the women around him but to hug them as well.
The President, in a press conference in Malacanang, branded the measures imposed by the PSG as foolish.
“I want an embrace. Why only a handshake? Kulang ‘iyan. Maniwala kayo PSG. Tapos sila sige gakos-gakos ng babae tapos (I want an embrace. Why only a handshake? That is not enough. Do not believe the PSG. Then they would embrace women, then),” he said.
“Kalokohan iyang protocol-protocol. I will shake hands sa…kung tawagin na ako ng Diyos ngayon oras na ito, pupunta na ako. Tapos na ako. Naging Presidente na ako,
pinakamataas na maabot ng isang tao. Mga anak ko okay lang (That protocol is foolish. I will shake hands with…if the Lord says it’s finally my time, I will go. I am through. I have become a president, the highest position a person can achieve. My children, it’s okay),” he added.
Last Sunday, the PSG said it would impose the “no touch” policy between the President, his guests and the public in a bid to protect him against the COVID-19.
The other measures include the assessment and possible cancelation of events with large crowd where the President would serve as speaker and guest of honor.
Duterte, however, said he would not decline invitations since part of his job includes attending crowd gatherings.
“Trabaho ko ‘yan… I will not decline invitations. I will shake hands with everybody,” he said, adding that he will visit Mindanao soon to pay his respects to fallen soldiers.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the President said he would not follow the PSG policy.
During several meetings that he attended at Malacanang, Duterte was seen going around, shaking hands with Cabinet members and local officials, and even bussed an official.
Panelo initially said that Duterte would follow the advice of the PSG since it was for his health and welfare.
The President is also expected to proceed with a planned visit to Boracay on March 12 to help promote the domestic tourism industry. Duterte said he would not go to the island resort simply to for the sake of seeing the island but because it is almost empty now.
The government is urging Filipinos to support the domestic tourism industry amid the COVID-19 spread which had resulted in several travel bans and restrictions, among others, that had a big impact on the tourism industry.