Duterte goes for late-night ride, jog amid health rumors

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday night went for a ride and jog amid recent speculations on his health after he canceled his regular public address twice this week.

NIGHT WALKER President Rodrigo Duterte takes a walk inside Palace grounds on the night of April 9, 2021 to dispel rumors of ill health. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

In a bid to inform the public that the President is doing well, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go released photos and videos of Duterte as he called on the public to support the President during these trying times.

“Mga kababayan ko, malungkot at mahirap ang maging Pangulo sa panahong ito. Suportahan natin si Tatay Digong, ang taong totoong nagmamahal (My fellow countrymen, it is sad and hard to be president during these times. Let us support Tatay Digong, the one who truly loves),” said Go, Duterte’s former long-time aide, in a Facebook post.

In Go’s Facebook post,  the 76-year-old Duterte can be seen on a walk, wearing a face mask and face shield.

A short clip showed the President jogging, while photos showed him walking and on a bike inside the Palace residence.

Rumors about Duterte’s health spread on social media after the Palace announced that he had canceled a scheduled public address on Wednesday because several Presidential Security Group members became infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Duterte tested negative for Covid-19 in his last swab test over the Holy Week, Go said.

The government’s Maharlika TV had initially cited “reliable sources” who claimed that the address was called off because the 76-year-old President “suffered a mild stroke.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar branded the report as fake news.

“Huwag magpapaniwala sa FAKE NEWS (Do not believe the FAKE NEWS),” Andanar said on Facebook on Wednesday, sharing a screenshot of the Maharlika TV report.

Andanar said Duterte “is safe and healthy, and continues to work to ensure that we address the recent surge of the virus.”

Duterte also skipped Day of Valor rites on Friday, with his spokesman, Harry Roque Jr., saying it was because of the continuing community quarantine across the country.

Roque said Duterte’s safety could not be compromised, considering that Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

“Active cases of Covid-19 remain high and we have to ensure not only the safety of the President but also the physical well-being of the staff and the security in charge of the coordination and preparation of the presidential engagement or event,” he said.

The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President) trended again on Twitter.

Duterte’s last activities were held on March 29 when he delivered a public address and witnessed the arrival of one million Covid-19 vaccine doses procured from China’s Sinovac Biotech.