In this April 24, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte walks past honor guards upon his arrival at the Beijing International Airport in the People's Republic of China. Accompanying the President is his partner Cielito Avanceña and their daughter Veronica.
Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante
Taking a nap or getting a trim? Contradicting statements on what Duterte was doing during quake
(Philstar.com) - December 16, 2019 - 2:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and his family were safe after a powerful quake that struck Davao del Sur Sunday afternoon but there are some inconsistencies on what the president was supposedly doing when it struck.

Brig. Gen. Jose Niembra, chief of the Presidential Security Guard that provides close-in security to the president, said Sunday that Duterte went back to sleep after the shaking stopped.

Niembra initially told reporters that the president was resting at his home in Davao City when the quake jolted southern Mindanao.

The PSG chief assured the public that there was no damage on Duterte's house but also said its structural integrity needs to be checked.

Sen. Bong Go, the president's long-time aide and de facto spokesperson, also said Duterte remained in his room with his nurse during the incident.

According to a report from SMNI, Go said he immediately called Duterte's nurse after the quake but the president refused to get out of his room.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, claimed Monday that the president was getting a haircut when the earthquake happened.

"When the quake hit Davao, the president was having his hair cut. That's what the first lady said," Panelo said.

According to Panelo, Duterte was at home together with his youngest daughter Veronica or "Kitty" when the tremor was felt while the president's common-law partner Honeylet Avancena was on her way home.

This is not the first time that those close to Duterte have had different accounts about the president.

In October, Duterte had a motorcycle mishap. Go, who was the first to announce it, said the president had an accident (sumemplang) while Niembra said "one of the tires hit an obstruction while leaving the garage.

Panelo's version had the president falling off the motorcycle while it was parked. "Kausap ko si first lady. Kinwento niya sa akin [mismo] (I was talking to the first lady. That's what she told me herself," he said then.

The national government has mobilized all concerned agencies to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the magnitude 6.9 earthquake.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government is on top of the situation in southern Mindanao and that the president is monitoring the ongoing operations to evaluate the damage of the quake.

The Philippine Institute Volcanology warned Davao del Sur residents that more aftershocks will come in the following weeks following the powerful quake last Sunday. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

COVER STORY EARTHQUAKE JOSE NIEMBRA RODRIGO DUTERTE SALVADOR PANELO
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