Malacañang vehemently denied on Thursday the claim that President Rodrigo Duterte was in a rush to go back to the Philippines after allegedly being snubbed during the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito in Japan on October 22.
In a text message, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was no truth to a viral Facebook post of a certain Ding Velasco, claiming that it was a “ruse” to cut Duterte’s visit to Japan.
Velasco alleged that Duterte had decided to return to Manila right after the Emperor’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne because he was “unceremoniously ignored” during the enthronement rites and “relegated down the line” in the seating arrangement due to last-minute confirmation of his attendance.
“Absolutely false,” the Palace official said, when sought to react to the allegation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday also dismissed Velasco’s claim as “false” news.
Using a cane to help him walk, Duterte attended Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon.
The President, however, skipped the banquet for the Emperor’s formal enthronement on Tuesday night and instead sent his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte, as his representative because he could no longer bear the “excruciating and searing” pain in his lower back.
He arrived in Manila on Tuesday night and had a consultation with his neurologist on Wednesday.
In a post titled “No Unbearable Pain”, Velasco said the 74-year-old President had pretended that he was experiencing a lower back pain to “gain sympathy” for “doing his duty even in grave physical pain.”
Velasco also noted that Duterte had deliberately done that so as not to be “publicly assailed for having been unceremoniously ignored in Japan, though not a fault of Japan.”
On September 23, Panelo said Duterte would skip the Emperor’s enthronement ceremony because the President “has so many works to do.”
Panelo, however, changed tune on October 20, when he confirmed that the Chief Executive would attend the accession of the Emperor and the two banquets that will be hosted by Emperor Naruhito and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Because of Duterte’s sudden change in decision, the seat allotted for him was for an ambassador and not for a head of state, Velasco said.
Velasco said Duterte’s camp had sought the re-arrangement of the seating protocol for the Philippines, but the request was denied, because it would create a “domino effect in the seating protocol of hundreds of Heads of State who already had their seating numbers based on protocol.”
He further alleged that when Duterte arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday, “nobody of high rank from the Japanese Foreign Ministry” welcomed him.
Malacañang earlier said that the President was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V and former Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa upon his arrival in Japan.
In a separate statement released on Thursday morning, Panelo revealed that the President has “muscle spasms”, which could be aggravated by his motorcycle accident several years ago, and from another minor big bike mishap this month.
Despite this, Panelo guaranteed that Duterte was “feeling much better” now and would just need to take medicines and limit his activities.
Panelo added that the President, while advised to take some rest, opted to attend “local and foreign” engagements in the coming days.
“The President is presently feeling much better,” he said.
”Despite the President’s somewhat impaired physical profile, he will continue to perform his presidential duties, which include attending to local and foreign engagements in the following days, with the same passion and dedication, in obedience to the constitutional command to serve and protect the Filipino people,” he added. PNA.GOV.PH