Filipinos online started to look again for President Duterte as Typhoon Ulysses battered several parts of the country Thursday morning, not knowing that the Chief Executive was attending the virtual opening ceremony of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

duterte 3 - ‘Nasaan ang Pangulo?’ trends anew; Duterte attends virtual ASEAN summit
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(KING RODRIGUEZ / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The hashtag “#NasaanAngPangulo” became one of the trending topics on Twitter Philippines on Thursday morning while “#UlyssesPH” took the top spot.

The Chief Executive was actually attending the 37th ASEAN Summit along with his fellow Southeast Asian leaders.

This year’s Summit focuses on the further enhancement of ASEAN’s cooperation and connectivity with its Dialogue Partners in addressing several matters on the global strategic environment, including the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to the Office of the President (OP), President Duterte will exchange views with his counterparts regarding COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, the future direction of ASEAN community building, and regional and international developments.

President Duterte is likewise expected to uphold the Philippines’ stand on public health emergencies cooperation, regional economic integration, migrant workers’ rights, climate change, disaster risk reduction management, counter-terrorism, and the South China Sea issue during the virtual meeting.

This year’s 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits are hosted by Vietnam and center on the theme, “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN.”

This was not the first time the people looked for the President while a typhoon was devastating parts of the country.

During the onslaught of Typhoon “Rolly” early this month, Filipinos online wondered where the President was due to his absence during the first public briefing regarding the typhoon.

Duterte was in Davao to visit the graves of his parents before the nationwide closure of cemeteries from October 29 to November 4.

He failed to fly back to Manila due to the absence of available flights.

Before returning to Malacañang, the President conducted aerial inspections on areas in the Bicol Region and Calabarzon ravaged by “Rolly.” He also visited the victims of the typhoon in Guinobatan, Albay.

The President said that there was no difference if he was in Manila or in Davao during the typhoon.

“Yung sabi na wala ako dito kasi nasa probinsya, what’s the problem? Ang mga papeles pinadala ninyo diyan tapos pirmahan ko, ipadala ko uli. Eh, machine lang naman ‘yan (To those who are saying that I’m not here because I’m in Davao City, what’s the problem? You send me the papers, I sign them and then send them back. There’s the machine, anyway),” Duterte said.

“Do you want me to stand doon sa (there on the) white sand ni (of) [Environment Secretary] Roy Cimatu just to show that I am here?” he added, referring to the artificial white sand beach made of crushed dolomite in Manila Bay.

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