President Rodrigo Duterte will limit his trips to Davao City as a precautionary measure amid the surge in COVID-19 cases as new, more transmissible variants emerge.
“We are just being careful because COVID cases remain high, that is why his trips are limited, even his trips to Davao. He was unable to return home because when he does, he would have to be accompanied by the Presidential Security Group,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview with dzXL.
“We are preventing the possibility that the President will be infected, that’s why he is staying in his residence [in Malacañang],” he added.
The President has skipped the Leaders’ Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over the weekend in Jakarta as it would require a face-to-face meeting.
Duterte has likewise cancelled some of his engagements earlier this month, including two scheduled “Talk to the People” addresses, after some members of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, government news agencies were directed to “convey that we are faring better than other countries” in handling the COVID-19 crisis, a leaked memo showed, but the Presidential Communications Operations Office said, “there is nothing wrong with this.”
Based on the leaked memo, which the PCOO confirmed was official, government media platforms must carry regular COVID-19 updates “specifically to convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries in addressing the pandemic.”
“Yes, there is a memo directing us to give updates on world data regarding COVID-19 and to convey that we are faring better than other countries,” Virginia Arcilla-Agtay of the PCOO Integrated News Team said in a statement.
The instruction was given “to provide adequate information and convey working policies, particularly those that aim to address the effects of the pandemic in the country,” said Arcilla-Agtay, director of the News and Information Bureau.
“There is nothing wrong with this, nor is it a lie, it is simply amplifying facts. And here are the facts: Regionally and globally, we have achieved a reputable and efficient response to the virus as compared to some developed, more advanced, and less densely-populated countries,” she added.