President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday slammed his critics for questioning his absence during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly over the weekend, which killed 16 people in the Bicol region and left thousands of Filipinos homeless.
“Kaya nga ako umuwi. Itong mga ugok naman sabihin wala ako. I was just waiting for the typhoon to pass then lumipad ako,” Duterte said during his televised weekly-briefing in Malacañang.
The public expressed concern on the whereabouts of Duterte after he skipped two media briefings attended by top government officials on typhoon response on Sunday.
This prompted netizens to trend hashtags #NasaanAngPangulo and #PatayNaBa on Twitter, questioning his absence on what supposed to be a national concern. It was later known that the President was currently in his home in Davao City when Rolly hit Luzon over the weekend.
“Iyong nagsabi na wala ako rito kasi wala, nasa probinsya, so, what’s your problem? Ang mga papeles pinadala, tapos pirmahan ko. Ipadala ko ulit. Eh, machine lang naman iyan,” he added.
The President visited his parents’ grave last Wednesday October 28, ahead of a week-long closure of cemeteries nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You know kung wala kayong mga patay, okay lang. Kaming may mga patay, kailangan umuwi doon sa amin,” he said.
“So the fact na wala ako dito sa pagbagyo. Do you want me to stand doon sa white sand ni Roy Cimatu? Just to show that I am here?” he added, referring to the crushed dolomite ‘whitesand’ beach in Manila Bay.
On Monday, Duterte conducted an aerial inspection on areas severely damaged by Super Typhoon Rolly en route to his trip from Davao to Manila.
The Chief Executive’s absence were defended by both presidential spokesman Harry Roque and Senator Bong Go.
“Dahil inaasahan po natin yung landfall kahapon, at saka sa totoo lang po, araw ng Linggo naman iyon,” Roque said.
Go, on the other hand, said Duterte has been working 24/7 despite being in his home in Davao City.
“Hindi ibig sabihin na nasa Mindanao ang Pangulo ay hindi siya nagttrabaho. 24/7 nagtatrabaho ang ating Pangulo at sinisigurado ng Pangulo na laging handa ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na magbigay agad ng immediate assistance sa mga lugar na maaapektuhan ng bagyo,” Go said.