DAVAO CITY � Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiAol on Sunday said his absence at the post-Typhoon Rosita briefing in Isabela on Nov. 2 was not meant to disrespect President Rodrigo Duterte.
PiAol said the Office of the President was informed he would be represented by Department of Agriculture (DA) Director Narciso Edillo to provide the briefing.
When I received the advisory that the President would visit the typhoon-affected areas, my staff informed the Office of the President that I would not be able to make it because of the traditional family obligation of visiting, offering flowers and lighting candles in the graves of our departed relatives, including my father, PiAol said on his Facebook post.
PiAol reacted to a news story on Philippine Star that he was "scolded" by President Duterte because he was a "no-show" in a post-Typhoon Rosita briefing.
The story made it appear that I ignored the advisory received by my staff on Nov. 1 to proceed to Isabela for the Presidential visit, he said, adding, The Phil. Star article also insinuated that my 'no show' was a sign of disrespect to the President.
PiAol said the report put malice on the statement of the President, where he said "marami naman siyang pera, ubusin nya na ng gastos dito (he has plenty of money, he can spend it all here)" making it sound like it was my personal money.
PiAol said the President was referring to the DA funds, which I announced in previous engagements are ready for disbursement in instances like this.
When the Phil. Star said that my absence in the Isabela trip was a 'No Show,' nothing could be farther from the truth, he said.
According to PiAol, this is not the first time that a Cabinet Secretary who could not make it to a Presidential engagement was represented by an official of his department.
PiAol also dismissed accusations he was absent during the Presidential visits in the aftermath of Typhoon Ompong.
I was with the President in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, and Benguet, although I missed the Isabela trip, where I was represented by an Undersecretary, he clarified.
Although this is no justification for officials like me who are sworn to serve, I begged off from the Isabela visit because of a revered family tradition of spending All Souls' and All Saints' Day with our loved ones, he said.
PiAol took the blame and apologized if the Office of the President failed to inform President Duterte of his request that he be represented by another official in that trip.
Allow me to publicly apologize to the President for my absence in Isabela, he said, as he assured he would proceed to Isabela to meet with poultry raisers, whose buildings were damaged by the typhoon and to help them market their chicken and provide support, so they could recover.
I will also work on the Presidential directives issued during his latest visit to Isabela, he added. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency