PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s spokesman on Sunday defended him from critics after he visited his family in Davao City on a private jet amid travel restrictions meant to contain a novel coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said the President had arrived in the southern city “to visit his family whom he has not seen in months and to assess the coronavirus disease 2019 situation in Mindanao.”
He said the pandemic had affected not just one part of the country but the entire Philippines. “As a father of the nation, President Duterte — considering his age and comorbidities — is a hands-on working chief executive who spent his weekend to check how this global health scare impacted the lives of people on the ground, especially those living outside Metro Manila and Luzon,” he added.
Mr. Duterte would be back in Malacañang in time for the next inter-agency task force briefing, Mr. Roque said.
Thousands of Filipinos have failed to go back to their hometowns after Mr. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island on March 17, suspending classes, work and public transportation to contain the pandemic.
The virus has sickened 4.7 million and killed almost 314,000 people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization. More than 1.8 million people have recovered, it added. — Gillian M. Cortez