Flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies were held at Rizal Park attended by Vice President Leni Robredo and
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and other government officials. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
By CATHERINE S. VALENTE / THE MANILA TIMES
THE Palace on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte was in “excellent health” a day after he skipped the early-morning Independence Day rites at Rizal Park in Manila. Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the “brutal” schedule of the President took a toll on his health. “The President is actually in excellent health, except for the fact that his schedule had been brutal,” Abella said in a news conference. “I mean, you have to credit the President, considering everything, that he has been actually honoring the military dead, the civilian dead, and he has been actually going around,” he added. The Palace official said Duterte was aware of the developments in the clashes in Marawi City between soldiers and the Islamic State-linked Maute group. “He [Duterte] would have wanted to be at the symbolic raising and [honor]the dead. However, the fact is he was already doing it for the rest of the week. So I think we need to allow him [to]rest,” Abella said. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in a chance interview on Monday, said the President was not feeling well because of his packed scheduled related to the Marawi crisis. On Sunday night, Duterte honored fallen Philippine Marine Corps personnel killed in the anti-terror offensive in Marawi City. As Commander-in- Chief, Duterte received the remains of the fallen troops at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. He also condoled with the bereaved families. The President then proceeded to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City for the wake of the slain soldiers. “That’s why he’s resting. He wasn’t forced to wake up because it’s hard when you’ve only had two, three hours of sleep. He’s not feeling well, he lacks sleep, he’s tired. Nothing to worry about,” Cayetano said. Malacañang earlier cancelled the traditional Independence Day vin d’honneur or reception. Cayetano said Duterte was not in the mood to give a toast, considering the significant number of government troops and civilians killed in Marawi. The vin d’honneur usually gathers state leaders, the diplomatic corps and other guests in Malacañang on important occasions, such as Independence Day.