President Rodrigo Duterte was absent during the burial of his presidential predecessor, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, because he did not want to encourage crowds, the Palace said on Monday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte wanted to go to Aquino’s wake on Thursday.

“He wanted to go, but he was informed that the urn of the former president had already been moved to the private residence in [Times Street], so hindi na po nakapunta doon si presidente,” Roque said.

As to why Duterte did not attend the interment rites for Aquino, Roque said: “Hindi ko na po alam kung bakit. It could be because it’s pandemic and we are trying to limit the numbers and, of course, the presence of the president would encourage crowds.”

Roque also said that Duterte had reached out to the family of his late “friend.”

“Noynoy was a friend, not a close friend, but a friend…There was a personal conversation with members of the family. There were offers for the family to have all the honors that the republic can give to a former president. But of course, the Palace had to bow to the wishes of the family for a more subdued ceremony,” Roque said.

Aquino was laid to rest on Saturday, June 26, two days after he died on the morning of July 24 at age 61 due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.
He was cremated, then his ashes were placed in an urn, which was put next to the tombs of his parents, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Corazon “Cory” Aquino at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque. John Ezekiel J. Hirro