Commentary PHL Vote 2022

Did Bongbong Marcos admit addiction treatment?

When one aspires to be president of the country, it is correct to assume that one must submit one’s self to public scrutiny. A presidential candidate is fair game and running for chief executive must be treated as a job interview before the sovereign people.

In the case of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the question of his alleged cocaine use must persist in the public’s consciousness. After all, no less than the highest official of the land has brought the matter out in the open.

When Marcos Jr. failed to appear last January 7 at the Comelec pre-conference hearing to face the disqualification complaints filed against him, Comelec required his lawyer to present a medical certificate. An online certificate was presented. Commissioner Rowena Guanzon later required him to have the medical certificate notarized.

But what does the medical certificate reveal?

Dr. Benedict Francis Valdecañas of the Aegle Wellness Center signed the certificate. “Mr. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., 63-year old male, has been under my care for the past 20 years for a variety of medical conditions, managing him particularly through lifestyle programs involving nutrition, exercise and supplements,” begins Dr. Valdecañas.

A check with Aegle’s website says it is “a state-of-the-art integrative health and wellness center purposely set in two complementary sites – a five-star city center facility and an exclusive island resort setting to nurture and sustain its bespoke wellness programs.” Those two sites are the City Club in Alphaland Makati Place and the other at Balesin Island Club.

Aegle provides “diagnostic assessments and programs to prevent stress- and lifestyle-related diseases.” It uses “cutting-edge technology from the basic sciences such as cell physiology, molecular biology, and human genomics.” It has medical specialists in the fields of sports and regenerative medicine, nutritionist-dietitians, physical therapists, and medical technologists. Among the features of its weeklong program are detox and nutritional planning. It does home service for Covid-19 testing and other laboratory tests. There is also a cancer management support program and a fitness-training plan for weight management.

But there is something else that Aegle does.

Under its page on the Science of Addiction written by Dr. Jason Peñaranda, it states that Aegle also treats substance use disorder (italics Aegle’s), a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug/substance seeking and use despite harmful consequences.”

Aegle further defines for us what substance addiction is: “It is regarded as a disease of the brain because it alters not just the physical structure of the brain but also its functionality. These changes are often seen as behavioral (aggressive behavior, lethargy, indifference) but may also be physiological (insomnia, anorexia). Such effects may be long-term and can be deteriorating.”

In short, Aegle does drug rehabilitation work. Is Bongbong Marcos being treated for substance abuse addiction? Obviously, both Aegle and Marcos will not answer that.

In late November, four days after President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that there is a presidential candidate in the 2022 elections who uses cocaine, Marcos submitted results of a drug test to law enforcement agencies. The date on the drug test report was November 22, 2021.A “test kit” was used at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City to determine Marcos Jr. ’s cocaine use.The results turned out negative.

A source at St. Luke’s clarifies that a drug “test kit” uses urinalysis and blood analysis as basis for its findings. Readers are cautioned, however, that each kind of drug test can only read how long a drug stays in the body’s system. The website Addiction Center explains that for cocaine, a urinalysis can only detect the presence of the substance within three days of use; a hair test, up to 90 days; blood test, up to 24 hours only;and a saliva test up to two days.

If Marcos Jr.’s test at St. Luke’s used urine, blood or saliva, it was inconclusive given the time limitations.The hospital could have conducted a hair follicle test, but as one of its doctors informs us, this procedure is commonly done only for post mortem analysis.

Had Marcos Jr. undergone a hair test, it would have been incontrovertible proof that he is not into cocaine use or otherwise.

That would have prevented the proliferation of speculations in social media. Suffice it to reiterate at this point that Marcos Jr. is submitting himself to the will of the people who have every right to question his personal integrity. Instead, what we get in social media are posts that explain the signs of cocaine addiction: incoherence, wet armpits, and the habitual grinding of teeth when speaking. Bongbong Marcos has all three; hence he needs to present us with a hair follicle test once and for all.

The big question of having another drug user as president is a legitimate one. After six years of a Fentanyl-addicted president who saw ecstasy in the blood and gore of the more than 30,000 individuals he had enabled to kill, drug users must be flatly rejected by the people.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.