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Duterte absent in first gov't briefing on Typhoon Rolly

As the nation continued to ask about the chief executive's whereabouts amid the severe weather condition, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday was absent in the first major government briefing on the country's preparations and response activities on Typhoon Rolly.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque led the 10 a.m. briefing with several government officials concerned on disaster response at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headquarters inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

However, Duterte himself did not show up during the two-hour briefing, even through videoconferencing.

Among the trending hashtags on Twitter as of Sunday afternoon were #NasaanAng Pangulo, #NasaanSi Duterte, together with Super Typhoon, #TyphoonGoni, and #RollyPH.

The local government heads whose provinces and cities are located along the pathway of Typhoon Rolly, such as Quezon province Governor Danilo Suarez and Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara, were able to participate in the briefing.

Roque explained that Duterte is currently in Davao City and is scheduled to fly back to Manila on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, he assured the public that the President is monitoring the developments related to the typhoon.

"Siya ay nag-utos sa atin na mag-conduct ng ganitong press briefing kung saan sasamahan tayo ng lahat ng kalihim na nangunguna sa mga ahensya na magbigay ng tulong," Roque said.

"Nagmomonitor ang ating Presidente. Bagama't mahirap magbiyahe ngayon dahil sa panahon ng COVID, minomonitor 'yan ng President. At ang desisyon kung siya ay makakaikot, Presidente ang gagawa niyan," he added.

Roque also said that Cabinet secretaries are on call should their help be needed in the preparations and response on Typhoon Rolly.

"On standby lahat ng ahensya at departamento ng gobyerno. Ang mandato ng Presidente ay gawin lahat nang maisalba naman ang ating mga kababayan sa trahedya ng Bagyong Rolly," he said.

The President regularly meets with several government officials on Mondays to discuss the country's efforts on COVID-19 response. An address to the nation will be made afterwards.

However, Roque has yet to confirm if Duterte would be able to address the nation on Monday.

"Ang alam ko there will be an address, hindi ko lang alam exactly kung kailan. The nation will find out. I will give advanced notice," he said.

"Hindi naman siya unreachable. He has been monitoring, he continues to give us instructions. As I said, ina-arrange natin ang address ng Pangulo anytime, either today or tomorrow," he added.

Aside from Roque, also present in the briefing were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Philippine National Police chief General Camilo Cascolan, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay, Social Welfare Undersecretary Felicisimo Budiongan, among other officials.—AOL, GMA News