MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte inexplicably skipped a Malacañang event on Wednesday, October 3.
Duterte was scheduled to attend the turnover of a check donation from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) at 4 pm.
But Malacañang media relations officials said that while the event pushed through, it did so without Duterte.
"The Pagcor check turnover went through, but without PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte)," said Communications Undersecretary Mia Reyes in a message.
No explanation was given for Duterte's absence.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea represented Duterte at the event.
A source privy to the President's activities that day said he had been busy with "meetings," hence the decision to skip the Pagcor event.
Two hours after Rappler's query, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque eventually replied, saying Duterte had "private time."
Asked if the "private time" had anything to do with the President's health, Roque said, "No." (READ: President's health: Touchy topic for Duterte, public concern for Constitution)
However, while Duterte is often late for events due to his busy schedule, he rarely absents himself, especially when the event has to do with a donation or assistance.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, meanwhile, did not directly answer reporters' request for an explanation of Duterte's non-appearance, choosing to give assurances that the Chief Executive would make it to his events on Thursday.
"We will definitely be seeing the President tomorrow as he will be attending many events and will be meeting with different groups in the Palace," said Go.
Cancelled presidential events usually have had to do with bad weather such as a recently canceled military-police command conference due to Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).
There were also times when Duterte skipped events because of a health concern.
Events he missed supposedly for health reasons:
Medialdea also saw Rappler's message but did not reply.
The day before, Duterte made two speeches in a military camp in Catarman, Northern Samar, even donning battle attire for the occasion.
The source said the President touched down in Manila very early on Wednesday morning.
A few hours later, Malacañang released a schedule in which the Pagcor event was classified as not open to media. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.