Duterte back in Davao, address to be aired Monday night
President Rodrigo Duterte wears a face mask during a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at Malacañang on April 13.
The STAR/File
Duterte back in Davao, address to be aired Monday night
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - September 20, 2020 - 6:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to deliver a public address on Monday night on the government's pandemic response from his hometown Davao City, Malacañang said,

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed in a text message that Duterte went home to the southern city last Friday after staying in Manila for nearly three weeks.

The president is expected to meet with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to talk about updates on the efforts to contain COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 286,000 people in the Philippines.

Duterte last went to Davao City on August 3, the day before Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan were placed under a two-week partial lockdown to give the government time to improve its strategies against COVID-19.

He returned to Manila on August 30.

While Duterte was in Davao City, rumors circulated that he was airlifted by a medical jet to Singapore for an emergency treatment. The president had described the rumor as "nonsense" but had also insisted that it's none of anybody's business if he decides to go to another country.

Officials previously said Duterte would announce his decision on the reduced physical distancing requirement in public transportation during his next public address. 
Malacañang announced the president's decision to retain the one-meter distancing requirement last Saturday but did not state his reasons for doing so. The relaxed distancing requirement was meant to ensure that there would be enough public transportation for people who will return to work.

Some health experts and Cabinet members, however, had expressed concern that reducing the distancing requirement in mass transportation could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections. 

During his public address last week, Duterte said the Philippines won't pay reservation fees to pharmaceutical firms that have yet to develop vaccine, saying it would violate the procurement law.

He also announced that the administration would prioritize vaccines from China and Russia if they are as effective as the ones developed by other countries.

The president also called on hospitals to increase the bed capacity for COVID-19 patients and urged the public not to believe the critics of the government's pandemic response.

Last week's public address, however, was not limited to pandemic-related topics. The president also disclosed that the multiagency task force formed to probe the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative cases against key officials of the state-run insurer.

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