APPALLED by criticisms that tend to claim President Rodrigo Duterte as absent in his own Cabinet meeting, a top Malacañang official said that there isn’t any official Cabinet meeting calendared for Thursday, April 8, 2021.
In a statement, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that what transpired on Thursday isn’t a Cabinet meeting, but an informal Zoom meeting attended by a few Cabinet officials and presided over by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“Yesterday’s meeting was not a Cabinet meeting. As mentioned, it was a Zoom meeting attended by some department secretaries,” Roque said.
The Palace spokesperson added that Medialdea’s Zoom meeting with just a handful of Secretaries, was nonetheless productive as it delved on the government’s COVID-19 response, which included contact tracing, hazard pay of healthcare workers, and PhilHealth payments to address present surge, among others.
“It was an informal but productive meeting,” he said. “We hope this clarifies the matter.”
However, Vice-President Leni Robredo said it is normal for the Filipinos to be looking for the President especially amid crisis – in this case, a national health emergency.
Prior to the Thursday meeting, the President missed two slated national public addresses — first on Monday and then on Wednesday. Roque said that the next national address will happen next week.
When asked as to why the President didn’t come out to deliver his message in time for the Araw ng Kagitingan, Roque cited the prevailing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) re-imposed in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces due to surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The President’s critics are asking why President Rodrigo Duterte has no public event to commemorate Araw ng Kagitingan. Lest they forget, we are under community quarantine, where gatherings are not encouraged,” Roque said.
“In addition, active cases of COVID-19 remain high and we have to ensure not only the safety of the President but also the physical well-being of the staff and the security in charge of the coordination and preparation of the presidential engagement or event,” he added.
Roque also took another swipe at the President’s detractors — “Those who made noise on the matter are the usual detractors of the Chief Executive who see nothing good in what he does.”