Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte spotted shopping in HK for second time in less than five months as partner Honeylet Avancena celebrates birthday

19-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Shoppers’ paradise Hong Kong attracted a surprise visitor on Saturday Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who was seen in town for the second time in less than five months.

Duterte was in Hong Kong with his partner Honeylet Avancena, who was celebrating her birthday on Saturday, a presidential spokesman said.

The visit by the 73-year-old Philippine strongman came two months after four Hongkongers were jailed for life on drug charges in the country.

Duterte was spotted in fashionwear chain Uniqlo’s shop at the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay at around 6pm with his bodyguards.

Southern District Council member Henry Chai Man-hon took a photo of Duterte, dressed in a dark suit, as he walked around the store and surprised a female shopper who looked at the president in shock.

“On Saturday, there were few Filipino domestic helpers [around],” Chai said, when asked if any of Duterte’s compatriots spoke to him in the shop.

Chai said some other shoppers also recognised Duterte but no one greeted the president. However, he talked to shop staff about the products.

The Democratic Party councillor, who only stayed in the shop for about five minutes, said he did not know what Duterte bought.

Duterte’s visit came on the heels of a claim by a former senator, Francisco Tatad, that the president recently had a successful kidney transplant in a Philippine hospital.

In a speech on Thursday, Duterte, who regularly utters profanities and curses critics, blasted Tatad. “You, Tatad, you know there’s a border between press freedom and disrespect for a person,” he said. “If I see you first, you better avoid me, f*** you. I will slap you.”

However, Duterte did not categorically deny that he had undergone an operation.

This was the second time in less than five months the president was spotted in Hong Kong on an unannounced visit.

Last October he visited with Avancena and their daughter Kitty and also picked Causeway Bay as a shopping and dining spot.

Two days before that trip, Duterte confirmed rumours he had visited a Philippine hospital in the middle of the night. But he said he merely had a colonoscopy and the tests turned out negative.

Last month, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor wrote to Duterte to raise concerns about the jailing of Lo Wing-fai, 44, Chan Kwok-tung, 31, Kwok Kam-wah, 49, and Leung Shu-fook, 51, making the case a top-level diplomatic issue.

The four were sentenced for possession of 467.8 grams of methamphetamine but Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who has been helping the families, argued the trial was unfair and that dubious evidence was staged to save face.

The four are applying to have the same judge review their case.

In 2016, the four men accepted a job sailing a fishing boat from the Philippines to mainland China.

Then-Philippine police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who is now running for a seat in the country’s Senate, led a team of officers together with journalists to the vessel and had the men arrested.


Category: Philippines

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