Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, tried to allay fears over the president’s health and whereabouts by posting photos of Duterte working on Wednesday night.
The photographs show Go and Duterte seated across each other at an office table full of papers.
“For those with ill wishes, don’t celebrate yet. Tatay Digong is here. He’s swamped with work,” read Go’s social media post written in Filipino.
“I’m wearing a yellow shirt but that’s DU30!!! I hope we can all just help our beloved president so that we could get past this crisis as united Filipino citizens,” said Go.
Speculation over the president’s health and whereabouts circulate on social media after the presidential palace canceled Duterte’s weekly televised address on Wednesday, April 7.
“The physical safety of the president remains our utmost concern,” said presidential spokesman Harry Roque in a statement.
The Presidential Security Group, Duterte’s guard unit, later announced that 45 of its personnel were found to have COVID-19.
“We will minimize all possible exposures that may jeopardize our president’s safety,” said security chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante.
Duterte’s known ailments include back problems, migraines due to nerve damage and Barrett’s oesophagus, which affects his throat.
He also suffers from Buerger’s disease which can cause blockages in the blood vessels.
Duterte has yet to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and is awaiting his doctor’s advice having expressed a preference for Sinopharm’s vaccine, which has yet to be approved locally.
“Nothing to worry about,” said Go. “In fact, we are together and he continues working,” he added.
With more than 819,000 COVID-19 cases and over 14,000 deaths, the Philippines has since last year been under tight and lengthy restrictions that have decimated its economy, which suffered one of Asia’s deepest contractions last year. – with a report from Reuters