After 5-day absence, Duterte surfaces as a medical expert and seer

President Duterte holds a press conference on the novel Coronavirus at the Malacañang
Palace on February 3, 2020. Beside him is Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of
the Senate Committee on Health. Malacañang photo by Toto Lozano.

Fresh from his five-day mysterious disappearance, at the time whengovernments all over the world were engrossed in coping with the threat of the novel coronavirus (nCoV), President Duterte surfaced February 3 as a medical expert and a seer.

In a press conference after his speech at the Philippine Navy Change of Command Ceremony where he was seen wearing air purifier around his neck, Duterte shared what he knows (more of what he doesn’t know) aboutthe virus that has infected 17, 391 persons in 24 countries as of Feb. 4, 2020.Three hundred sixty-one have died and the Philippines has the grim distinction of accounting for the only one death outside China.

At the beginning of the conference, Duterte asked why it was called “novel.” His ignorance didn’t prevent him from dispensing his “wisdom” onmedical matters.

“Don’t be afraid of a pandemic, “ he said adding that there was “Spanish flu, German flu” but there was no Filipino flu.

“Mabuti walang Filipino flu. Tayo ang the most resilient. Palagay ko hindi aabot dito yan. (There’s no Filipino flu. We are the most resilient. I’m sure it won’t get here.”

He predicted nCoV will go the way of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), one form of coronavirus which caused widespread infection in 2003.

He said SARS just disappeared because “it has a life span and loses steam because people over time also acquire immunity.”

He also ventured into HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) saying it’s almost gone. “Kokonti na lang (just a few cases.)”

He said five, ten years ago HIV was a dreaded disease to the extent that people had to cut down on “the pleasures of the world” and “almost everybody became a celibate overnight.”

He predicted that HIV “will die a natural death.”

And like HIV, he said nCoV will end. “Ito matatapos din ito” citing the progress in medical science.

But he admitted it could ‘become worse in the meantime.”

He assured the Filipino people “that everything is well in the country.”

He also said: “This I can assure you, this government will never hide anything.”

Then Mr. President, tell us where you have been and what did you undergo from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.