By Roy Mabasa
Away from the glaring cameras and the prying eyes of the media covering the Palace, President Duterte visited on Monday several public hospitals and hospices where he extended financial assistance to institutions that are primarily serving abandoned or children of poor families.
This was disclosed yesterday by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque when he was asked about Duterte’s unannounced activities, which he admitted, were part of the latter’s annual tradition that dates back when he was still mayor of Davao City.
Roque confirmed that the President visited Mary Johnston Hospital in Tondo, Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz, and Hospicio de San Jose near Malacanang Palace. All institutions are located in the City of Manila.
He said the President is set to make more unannounced visits in other places but these are considered “confidential.”
“I guess ayaw lang niya mapulaan for doing what he has traditionally done as mayor in the month of December. There are more visits and now I know, it is unannounced,” Roque said.
When pressed for details, Roque confirmed that Duterte extended financial assistance to these institutions known to cater to children.
“I promised to ask him but I was a bit distracted because yesterday, he visited, as I said, poor and sick people with no media coverage… But I guess that’s his Christmas activity ‘no. So I was sidelined, I forgot to ask him because there were too many babies that he was visiting and he visited confined infants,” he said.
It has been the President’s tradition during his stint in Davao to visit and distribute Christmas gifts to cancer-stricken children.
In his first-ever Christmas as president last year, Duterte visited the Southern Philippines Medical Center and House of Hope located in his hometown where he gamely posed for selfies, talked with staff and patients, distributed gifts to children and even carried babies.