MALACAÑANG on Monday, May 27, again assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is fine and was merely sleepy to explain his tardiness and demeanor during the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation rites.
Duterte on Sunday, May 26, arrived two hours late for the graduation of the PMA "Mabalasik" Class of 2019, delaying the ceremony.
The Commander-in-Chief appeared unsteady during the graduation rites and had to be assisted by his security aides while boarding a military jeep for the trooping the line of the cadet corps.
For the first time, Duterte also let Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana distribute the diplomas to the PMA graduates, except to the two of the 261 cadets who received theirs from the Chief Executive.
In previous PMA commencement exercises, it was Duterte who handed out the diplomas to all graduating cadets.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo explained that the President had "struggled" to be awake" during the PMA's commencement exercises because he lacked sleep.
"[Duterte] lacked sleep. The day before the event, he was working papers, reading reports from various departments, and signing papers. He is a night person. He usually sleeps at 6 a.m., he had to wake up at 8:30 a.m. for the PMA graduation rites so he had only two hours sleep," he said.
"The event at 9 a.m. was part of his sleeping time. He is a night person. He was so sleepy when he arrived at the venue. He struggled to be awake," Panelo added.
He said the President did not distribute the diplomas because he wanted to "reserve" his energy for the other parts of the program.
"The protocol in distributing diplomas is either he does it himself or he tasks the Secretary of National Defense to do it," Duterte's spokesman said.
"He opted to let [Lorenzana] hand out the certificates. He reserved his energy for the other ceremonial acts he had to perform for the graduation rites. By the time he delivered his speech, he was already his usual alert, impassioned and assertive self," he added.
Panelo said Duterte's ill-wishers would just be "disappointed" as the President is "in good health."
Amid speculations about Duterte's health, he is still "robust enough" to go to Japan, the Palace official maintained.
"To the people who wish him to be seriously ill, they will be disappointed," Panelo said.
"To those who are concerned about his well being, they should be assured that apart from what he already told the public of what ails him (which is not life threatening), the President is in good health, robust enough to be traveling to Japan for an official visit upon the invitation of Prime Minister Abe," Panelo added.
Duterte has admitted that he is suffering from several ailments.
Apart from chronic back pain and migraine, the 74-year-old President has also admitted to having Barrett's esophagus condition and Berger's disease.
In September 2018, Duterte hinted that a growth in his digestive tract may have developed into cancer.
But in October the same year, or a month after his revelation, the Chief Executive assured the public that he tested negative for cancer. (SunStar Philippines)