President Rodrigo Duterte, who is set to celebrate his 75th birthday on Saturday, March 28, will spend the day by working as the country faces the coronavirus disease pandemic, his spokesman said on Friday.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they hope that God would continue to give Duterte good health and divine intervention as he leads the country.
"For a man in whose hands lie the heavy burden of steering the ship of state in these perilous times, he faces the dilemma of celebrating his natal day savoring the simple joy of playing with his grandchildren in Davao or spending it dangerously in Manila amongst his people to lead them in the war of survival against the coronavirus which has placed them, including himself, on the brink of disaster and death," he said.
"Consistent with his daredevil character and deep filial ties, the President will most likely opt to either being ensconced safely and quietly with his loved ones in his comfort zone or continue with his manning the ramparts against the enemy. Given his dexterity it is unsurprising if he would probably do both with ease," he added.
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said Duterte's presidency has been characterized with his unwavering war against drugs, criminality, corruption, rebellion and terrorism.
Aside from these problems, he noted that Duterte's leadership was also tested by other natural calamities, such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
"As if these human and natural monstrosities were not enough to test the nerves and leadership of this President, our country is now in the precipice of annihilation as he leads us to face this Armageddon of an unseen lethal invader of a disease that is creeping into our people’s lifeblood, killing them slowly and painfully into their graves," he said.
"Under these foreboding and grim circumstances how can we greet him with a hearty Happy Birthday?" he wondered.
However, he said the birth of a person is an event that could not pass without thanking God.
"We take therefore this occasion to thank God for giving life to this maverick of a President, and for lending us his time and his indefatigable spirit to serve and protect the people with his unorthodox ways and selfless brand of public service that puts to risk his life, honor and the presidency," he said.
"The nation’s prayers for your good health and well being go to you Mr. President on this day of your birth. Long life! We pray that the Almighty continue to give you enough good health and divine guidance as you safely navigate our people through the rampaging waves of this treacherous ocean of a dreadful disease," Panelo added.
For weeks, Duterte has decided to stay in Manila and not return to his hometown of Davao City to monitor the situation, especially in Luzon, including Metro Manila, which has been under the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19 since March 17. Celerina Monte/DMS