MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will spend his birthday is self-quarantine following confirmed cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among his officials, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Friday.
In a statement, Go said Duterte was advised by his doctor and the Presidential Security Group (PSG) to go on self-quarantine in Malacañang for his protection as he oversees the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte, who is the oldest to be elected as Philippine president, is turning 75 on Saturday, March 28.
Go, who was the Duterte’s long-time aide, said the chief executive traditionally spends his birthday at home and shunned birthday parties even while he was still mayor of Davao City.
“Simula noong mayor pa ng Davao City si Pangulong Duterte, hindi siya nagse-celebrate ng birthday. Nasa bahay lang siya. This has been his tradition,” he said.
“To some extent, parang home quarantine ang ginagawa niya palagi sa bawat birthday niya,” he added.
With the COVID-19 crisis, Go said Duterte will remain in Malacañang as he needs to monitor the public health situation, especially the distribution of government assistance to sectors heavily affected by the community enhanced quarantine in Luzon.
“Isa sa kanyang mga bilin ay para sa DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] kung saan sinabi niya na dapat mabigyan ng tulong lahat ng pinaka-nangangailangan lalo na ang poorest of the poor,” he said.
“Kasama rin sa bilin ng Pangulo ay ang patuloy na pagdarasal ng taumbayan lalong lalo na para sa kapakanan ng ating mga frontliners — mga healthworkers, doctors, nurses at pati na rin ang military at kapulisan na ginagampanan ang kanilang mga tungkulin para protektahan tayong lahat,” he added.
Go revealed he has spoken twice to Duterte today through phone, and that he expressed sadness that the chief executive will be alone during his birthday.
Go, who is always seen by the president’s side, is on self-quarantine after recent exposure to a lawmaker who tested positive for COVID-19.
“Bilang ama ng bayan, ang nasa isip niya ngayon ay ang kapakanan ng bansa at hindi ang sarili niyang birthday,” he said.
“Sa aking pananaw, the President will only celebrate when we have fully conquered the Covid-19 situation,” he added.
“Ngayong kaarawan niya, nakakalungkot man na mag-isa siya, isa lang ang pakiusap niya sa mga Pilipino — ang tanging maireregalo ninyo sa kanya ay ang sumunod sa patakaran and stay at home,” he further stated.