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Duterte to spend 76th birthday in Davao under ‘self-quarantine’



President Rodrigo Duterte will spend his 76th birthday on Sunday in Davao City, where he will undergo “self-quarantine.”

Col. Jesus Durante Jr., chief of the Presidential Security Group, as well as Duterte’s former top aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, confirmed to the Daily Tribune that the president will mark the occasion in his hometown.

Duterte’s chief legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo also said the president will isolate himself upon the advice of his physicians and security aides “for his protection, given that his presidential duties have exposed him to officials and other persons around him.”

The president, Panelo said, would continue with his work while under quarantine.

“Consistent with his daredevil character and deep filial ties, the president, while being ensconced in relative safety with his loved ones in his comfort zone, will continue with his manning the ramparts against the enemy, with unsurprising dexterity,” Panelo said in a statement Saturday.

Duterte will be content in a simple celebration with his grandchildren in Davao City, the official added.

Panelo noted that the president’s 76th birthday was amid the “grim circumstances” and spike in coronavirus infections.

Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the president’s birthday wish is the end of the pandemic and a return to normalcy.

“I’m sure the President wishes an end to this pandemic and he wants all of us to go back to our normal lives,” Roque in a press briefing on Thursday.

“Despite Covid-19, I’m sure his birthday wish is for a comfortable life for all to come true and that all of us will be able to overcome this pandemic,” he added.

Panelo expressed his wishes for Duterte’s continued good health and guidance, as he “safely navigates our people through the rampaging waves of this treacherous ocean of a dreadful disease.”

PSG’s Durante also greeted the president on his birthday, calling him the “best leader” and a “great mentor.”

“We express our deepest gratitude and appreciation for giving us the opportunity to serve under your leadership. From the depths of our hearts, we wish you a long and fulfilling life that is always filled with happiness and incessant blessings,” Durante said.

The number of active coronavirus cases in the Philippines reached an all-time high of 118,122 — beating Friday’s record of 109,018 — after the health department recorded 9,595 new infections on Saturday.

The record-breaking number of active cases has alarmed health officials, who also noted that the occupancy rate of hospitals in Metro Manila have been increasing in recent weeks.

Due to the pandemic, Duterte could not visit the children’s cancer ward of the Southern Philippines Medical Center like what he usually does. In previous years, he gave toys and food to cancer patients to cheer them up.

Last year, Duterte spent his 75th birthday in Malacañang while in “self-quarantine,” following his exposure to some government officials who tested positive for Covid-19.

The oldest person to be elected Philippine president, Duterte was born on March 28, 1945 in Maasin, Southern Leyte.

This year, it falls on Palm Sunday — the first day of Holy Week.

The chief executive is expected to return to Manila on Sunday night since he would personally welcome the arrival of one million doses of Sinovac’s vaccines — the first batch of jabs the Philippine government bought — at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday.

Duterte, in a public address last March 15, expressed optimism that Filipinos would overcome the health crisis.

“We can prevail over this Covid. It is just a small thing in our life. We have been through worse, more difficult ones, that brought us more tears,” he said.