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Palace on Rody‘s SONA slip: Blame it on the carpet

The public need not worry about President Rodrigo Duterte’s health, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

This was after Duterte, in a video clip during his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, appeared to lose his balance, prompting one of his security aides to hold him.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing at Subic Bay Freeport Zone, said Duterte merely lost his footing because of the slippery carpet.

“There’s no problem with the President’s health. He merely slipped,” Roque said. “Perhaps, the carpet, since it was cleaned, is slippery, especially if you are wearing leather shoes.”

In other developments related to the President’s last SONA:

• Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday slammed the Duterte administration,  which she said has failed to address the COVID-19 pandemic that has pulled the country’s economy down.

In her own “Ulat ni VP” live-streamed on Facebook, Robredo said: "There should be no other priority but the pandemic and its effects. We need all hands on deck and laser-like focus."

"This should be mirrored in our budgets, in the agenda of every meeting within government, in every memo cascaded down the bureaucracy," she added.

• Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto yesterday said he found it “ironic” that President Duterte is mad over the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) but is all praises for Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese communists. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)

"That’s confusing as far as I’m concerned. He had all the praises for Xi Jinping, the Communist Party of China and then he was fuming over the Communist Party of the Philippines here," said Recto in an interview over ANC.

Recto said this in relation to Duterte’s praise of the government’s efforts against the communist insurgency.

• Sen. Risa Hontiveros taunted President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on corruption as “selective, inconsistent and unjust.” 

“What it hits hard, even in the pastillas scheme that my office exposed, are mere foot soldiers,” said Hontiveros, who noted that fighting corruption is not a zero-sum game.

"Saying that the government would have to be toppled for corruption to vanish is the chant of a leader who is lazy and without imagination," said Hontiveros.

• Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said free legal assistance is already being extended to members of the PNP and the

Armed Forces of the Philippines and other uniformed personnel who facecharges in connection with the performance of their duties.

 “The DOJ has a standing directive to the PAO (Public Attorney’s Office, an attached agency of the DOJ) to extend legal assistance to police officers up to the level of SPO4 and other uniformed personnel who get sued in the course of performing their official duties,” Guevarra said in a text message to reporters. However, Guevarra explained that “the provision of free legal assistance is subject to the PAO’s evaluation of the case, including a determination of conflict of interest, as when the adverse party has also sought legal assistance from the PAO.”

* Housing czar Eduardo del Rosario, Task Force Bangon Marawi chairperson, on Tuesday assured the President that the rehabilitation of public infrastructure in war-torn Marawi City, Lanao del Sur would be completed within his term.

“On behalf of Task Force Bangon Marawi and our 56 implementing agencies, I would like to assure our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte andour Maranao brothers and sisters that we will complete the  rehabilitation of all major infrastructures in Marawi City within his administration,” he said.

“Currently, we are 70 to 75 percent complete in the overall rehabilitation works, and by December, a substantial number of projects will be completed as embodied in the master developmentplan,” Del Rosario added.

 Duterte was supposed to deliver his last SONA in just less than an hour. However, it ended up being the longest SONA after his final address to the nation ran for two hours and 45 minutes.

Roque also denied rumors that Duterte was rushed to a hospital after his SONA.

To allay concerns over Duterte’s health, Roque said the Chief Executive even exchanged pleasantries with some lawmakers after delivering his SONA and stayed at the Batasang Pambansa until 8:30 p.m.

“He left at around 8:30 p.m. because he seemingly enjoyed talking with members of Congress,” Roque said.

Duterte, 76, has repeatedly assured the public that he can still perform his duties despite his admission that his ailments are taking a toll on his health.

The President has muscle spasms and is battling chronic back pains and migraines. He also has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that weakens skeletal muscles responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body.

Duterte is also suffering from Barrett's esophagus, a potentially serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Buerger's disease, a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs.

He also informed the public in October 2018 that the supposed "growth" found in his digestive tract tested negative for cancer.

Meanwhile, Roque said critics’ displeasure over Duterte’s last SONA no longer came as a surprise.

Roque issued the statement after opposition Makabayan bloc lawmakers branded Duterte’s final SONA as a “joke of the nation.”

“First and foremost, we are not expecting the opposition to praise the SONA,” he said. “No one from the opposition really praised the SONA.

Of course, they would just criticize the President’s remarks because they are from the opposition.”

Roque, nevertheless, said Duterte’s SONA is “unique” because his Cabinet members already conducted pre-SONA conferences to discuss the administration’s plans in its last year in office.

Roque said Duterte would also address the nation anew this week, as the President is set to hold his regular Talk to the People on Wednesday night.

Duterte holds Talk to the People every week to inform the public about the government’s actions to defeat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

He is usually joined by select members of his Cabinet, medical experts, and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases core members.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , SONA , Palace , State of the Nation Address
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