‘Proof of good leadership not of life’ matters: 2 senators hit Duterte’s ‘non-sense photo-ops’

MANILA, Philippines —Filipinos want “good and authentic” leadership, not proof of life, as the country struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, two senators said Tuesday following President Rodrigo Duterte’s two-week absence from the public eye.

Duterte’s long-time aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, shared photos and videos of him playing golf and riding a motorcycle on Malacañang grounds to dispel speculations about the state of his health.


The President resurfaced Monday night to deliver his public address.

“Hindi naman proof of life ang hinihingi ng tao, kundi proof of good and authentic leadership, especially in this pandemic,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement on Tuesday.

(The public is not asking for proof of life, especially in a pandemic like this, but rather proof of good and authentic leadership.)

“Filipinos want to feel we are cared for by this government and, unfortunately for the president, his presence and availability for photo ops can never substitute for clear, coherent, empathetic and compassionate leadership,” she added.

The opposition senator made the statement following a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which showed that most Filipinos believe that administration officials should inform everyone about Duterte’s health.

READ: 65% of Filipinos say Duterte’s health should be made public – SWS

Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima did not mince words in condemning Duterte and his allies for allegedly resorting to “non-sense photo-ops” to convince the public that he is still fine.

“If Duterte and his sycophants will continue to sleep on their job and their non-sense photo-ops just to prove that Duterte can still breathe or jog after two weeks of absence, we cannot and we will never recover. This has to end,” De Lima said in a statement.

“Hindi natin kailangan ang litrato. Kailangan natin ay liderato,” she added.


(We don’t need pictures. What we need is leadership.)

De Lima, one of Duterte’s staunchest critics and currently behind bars for drug-related charges, believes the worsening crisis was due to the President’s bad management during the pandemic.

“Malinaw ang naging resulta ng kapalpakan ng pamumuno ni Duterte. Habang nasa kung saang lupalop siya at nagpapa-photoshoot habang nagmemeryenda, nagja-jogging, naggo-golf at kung anu-ano pang pampalipas oras, araw-araw, daan-daan ang binabawian ng buhay at nauulila—ina, ama, kapatid, kaibigan, kamag-anak, katrabaho, mga mahal sa buhay,” De Lima said.

(The result of Duterte’s failed leadership is clear. While he is somewhere doing photoshoots eating snacks, jogging, playing golf or doing other activities to pass the time, every day, hundreds are drying and are losing their loved ones—a mother, a father, a friend, a relative, a co-worker, loved ones.)

“Kung anu-ano na lang ang pinagsasasabi niya na walang relasyon sa problema natin sa COVID-19 at West Philippine Sea,” she added, apparently referring to the rants of the President during his public addresses.

(He keeps on talking about random things unrelated to our problems with COVID-19 and the West Philippine Sea.)

READ: De Lima to Duterte: People are dying and I’m still your problem?

“Hindi na kailangan ipagdasal na mamatay na siya. Ipagdasal na lang natin ang ating kawawang bansa,” the senator further said.

(There’s no need to offer prayers for his death. We should just pray for our struggling country.)


Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed hope that Duterte would stop engaging in “hide-and-seek” behavior.

“Sinadya daw niya. Sana, huling larong ‘hide-and-seek’ na ito ng Pangulo kasi maraming nag-aalala,” Lacson tweeted.

(He said it was his intention, I hope, this is the last time he will play ‘hide-and-seek’ because many are concerned.)

“That said, the health condition of any sitting president should be the concern of every Filipino. Even [Vice President] Leni Robredo had the moral decency to say that she was praying for him.

READ: Duterte: ‘If you want me to die early, pray harder’

Amid rumors concerning Duterte’s health, Malacañang had said the President remains “fit and healthy for his age.”

READ: Palace: Duterte remains ‘fit and healthy for his age’

The Palace further said that Duterte need not show the public some proof that he is doing his duties as the commander-in-chief because that is “not his style.”

READ: Duterte doesn’t need to flaunt he’s working, says Palace