Member of Duterte’s bodyguard unit found dead

By: Euan Black - Posted on: September 26, 2017 | Current Affairs

One of the Philippine president’s bodyguard unit was shot on Tuesday morning, but authorities say Duterte was far away from the incident

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte looks on during a meeting with Asean economic ministers in Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines, 06 September 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/Mark R. Cristino

One of President Duterte’s bodyguards was found dead in his quarters at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) base in Malacanang Park on Tuesday morning. The exact whereabouts of Duterte at the time of the shooting have yet to be revealed, but PSG commander Lope Dagoy told Reuters that he was far away from the incident when it took place.

Major Harim Gonzaga had been shot in the chest; his body discovered by his wife.

Dagoy told reporters that ‘foul play’ had been ruled out and that the bodyguard’s death was being treated as an isolated incident.

“We are ruling out foul play… certainly no foul play,” he said, adding that the PSG did not wish to speculate about the circumstances of the bodyguard’s death.

A Norinco caliber .45 was found beside Gonzaga’s body, but Dagoy said it was too early to determine whether or not the 37-year-old bodyguard had committed suicide.

Duterte was not seen in public on Monday after he spent several days in his southern home, Davao City, where he used to be mayor and is known to spend the majority of his weekends.

Asked about the president’s location during a press briefing several hours prior to Dagoy’s comments, Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said: “We don’t have any information regarding that.”

The foul-mouthed leader is known for running roughshod over his official schedule. In June, at the height of the conflict between the Philippine military and Isis-affiliated militia in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, Duterte went missing for three days and failed to make an appearance for the country’s Independence Day celebrations on 12 June, stoking rumours of his ill-health, a topic that the president has repeatedly addressed in public speeches.

In addition to migraines and back pain, Duterte also suffers from Barrett’s oesophagus, which in extreme cases can cause cancer, and Buerger’s disease, caused by heavy smoking during his youth.

“Will I survive the six years?” Duterte asked last November, referring to his term as president.  “I’d make a prediction, maybe not.”