Duterte absent for 10 of the last 13 days: Why does he need this long rest?

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President Rodrigo Duterte was out of public sight for the fifth straight day Sunday (June 25) in what Malacañang has repeatedly insisted was an extended “rest period” for the Commander-in-Chief.

This is the second five-day absent streak of Duterte since he went AWOL starting June 12 when he skipped his first Independence Day and didn’t appear until June 17.

This means the President had no official meeting or public engagement in 10 of the last 13 days.

His last public appearance was his visit to the families living in an evacuation center in Iligan City last June 20. At the time, he apologized for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao as well as the devastation caused by the fighting in Marawi City. Duterte also visited the wounded soldiers recuperating at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City that day.

To fill up the public’s demand for more explanation on the need for an extended rest, Duterte has treated the issue lightly with jokes (“I was kamatose”) and mysterious statements (“I went on a secret trip”).

In an interview shortly after visiting a military camp in Butuan City last June 17, Duterte said: “I am good while I am alive but do not worry about a one day, two days absence.” He warned the public though that he would take more time away from the public eye without elaborating.

Duterte himself saw the parallelism between his case and then President Ferdinand Marcos who also battled talks of his failing health after weeks of being out of the public eye.

“Baka nasanay na kayo kay Marcos noon ‘no, na na-operahan, may sakit lupus tapos he could not appear for so many days,” said Duterte.

True, Marcos’ minions lied about the true state of health of the then 68-year old dictator and his bout with lupus. But is Malacañang also lying about the real score behind the 72-year old leader’s fitness? We’ll never know unless Duterte and Malacañang become more candid about it.