(Updated 7:37 p.m.) Malacañang released a statement on the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, but it has minor grammatical errors and the subject is not traditionally considered of national concern.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with seven other passengers, figured in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles yesterday.
International and local fans have been mourning their deaths. Unexpectedly, the Philippine president’s office also joined in the chorus of grief for the American basketball superstar.
“Mr. Bryant was a frequent visitor in the Philippines. He was well-loved by his Filipino fans. On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats,” Malacañang said in the statement.
“The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe have left behind. We share in their grief,” it added.
Although President Rodrigo Duterte has the discretion on which issues, incidents or events warrant statements or announcements his office, these are often only provided during events of national concern such as natural disasters and national security.
The Palace’s sudden message for the late American athlete came as a surprise to some Filipinos.
A Twitter user questioned the government’s priorities: “Ok not to be a bitch but the fact that Malacañang has a statement about THIS and nothing on Taal or even the Corona Virus… MAAM THE PRIORITIES ARE LOST.”
Another user wondered if a mobile note-taking app was used to craft what was perceived to be a haphazardly written statement. “Did… Did the president issue a statement with the notes app?” the tweet read.
Others criticized the grammatical errors, particularly the use of “her” to refer to Kobe.
Others also poked fun at the lack of style in the description of Bryant’s basketball skills. “Dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring?’ NGANO FUNNY HAHAHAHAHHAHA,” it read.
The move of the highest government office to speak out about the passing of an international sports star is rare. In the past, it remarked on the passing of some key local personalities and achievers, as well as foreign officials whose countries or offices the Philippines has significant ties.
In the past weeks, the Office of the President released statements on two adversities, the Taal Volcano eruption and the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus. Statements are usually coursed through presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
However, some Filipinos have been keeping tabs on Duterte’s perceived lack of presence at major events such as the typhoon season and ASEAN Summit in 2018.