President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is fed up with rumors that he flew to Singapore on a medical emergency, asking fake news peddlers to stop spreading nonsense.
Duterte said he had no reason to hide any of his trips, especially if it involved the use of public funds.
“Kung gusto kong umalis, aalis ako (If I want to leave, I’ll leave). I do not have to keep it a secret because I will not be using any government funds. Hindi ko ugali ‘yan (That’s not my personality),” he said in a late-night public address on Monday.
He said he had “no obligation” to “travel in secret.”
“I am a citizen of this country. The right to travel is guaranteed. Kung guaranteed sa inyo, eh di guaranteed ‘yan sa akin (If your rights are guaranteed, then my rights are guaranteed). And I do not have to hide it. I said I am not stupid to use government funds. Malalaman nang malalaman ng tao ‘yan (People will eventually find out),” he said.
According to Duterte, all the foreign trips he took were “official trips.”
“There has been no trip so far that I have undertaken outside of the Philippines using government funds. If at all I go out, it’s official, and it is just right that — wala naman akong perang pangbayad ng (I don’t have money to pay for) the entourage that goes with me,” he said.
Even if rumors were true, Duterte said he could travel anywhere he wanted to.
“So stop this nonsense about me going to Singapore if at — I said, if at all. Kung gusto ko pumunta, pupunta ako. Wala kayong pakialam kung gusto kong pumunta (If I want to go there, I will. It’s none of your business if I want to go),” he said.
Duterte said he even had more reason to travel since he could not remember the last time he was able to go on a vacation.
“We have the right to travel. With more reason ako kay matagal na akong walang bakasyon (for me because I haven’t been on a vacation). If I went somewhere else, well — or if I choose to go to Europe, pupunta ako sabihin ko (I’ll go and announce it)…Then I would have to go on a leave of absence or maintain the control of government by electronic,” he said.
He said whenever he would go out of the country, he would assign either Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea or Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as officer-in-charge to take care of day to day operations in his office.
“Just leave somebody to take care — it’s either usually Bingbong or si Guevarra. Or if not, if things are not quite good, then I’ll leave it in the hands of the military. Probably it would be the Secretary of Defense kung medyo topsy-turvy ang bayan and I have to leave,” he said.
However, he was not inclined to travel as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“I am not inclined to do that. Pero kung gusto ko, aalis ako (But if I want to, I’ll go). Let me repeat it: I have no obligation to keep it a secret. For what? But the only thing maybe is if I use your public money. I will never do that,” he said.
He said a true leader would “always stay where the crisis is.”
“Hindi ka dapat maglagalag kung may problema ang bayan. Napakababa naman ang tingin ninyo sa akin kung ganun. Well, be that as it may, hindi po ako ganun just to disabuse your mind (You shouldn’t be going around if there’s a problem in the country. You think too lowly of me in that case. Well, be that as it may, I’m not like that just to disabuse your mind),” he said.
Rumors of Duterte’s trip to Singapore over the weekend circulated over the weekend after a medical jet reportedly took off from Davao City.
Duterte’s health has always been subject to speculations since the start of his presidency.
The 75-year-old President suffers from back problems, migraines, and Buerger’s disease — an inflammation of small- and medium-sized blood vessels but he said these issues do not hinder him from performing his duties as President. (PNA)