​ Rumors about the President’s health that refuse to die


One week afterMalacañang denied rumors that President Duterte was airlifted to Singapore on Aug. 15, the item continues to circulate in social media’s private chats with more dubious details.

The persistence of the rumor reminds me of the talk that circulated in the 80’s during Martial Law about Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

Rumors had it Bongbong was killed by the mafia while he was in Europe and the family replaced him with a double. Incredible but many believed it. Up to this day, I still get that claim from someone who insists that he knows somebody whose sister’s officemate has a cousin who was a member of the Malacañang staff at that time.

People believe what they want to believe.

Malacañang is also to blame.

Duterte’s health has been a subject of speculations even during the 2016 election campaign. And his frequent absences from public functions fuel the speculations.

The President also doesn’t look to be in the best of health. With an air purifier always hanging on his neck, the discoloration on his face, and breathing difficulty when speaking, people don’t need a lot of convincing about talks of him being sick.

The best way to counter speculations would be to issue a medical bulletin. Not a report from Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go or from Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque because they are not doctors. It should be a report from his doctor.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, former presidential spokesperson, used the words “serious illness” to evade the calls that the public be informed of the state of the President’s health as stated in the Constitution. He said what ails the President was nothing serious.

If that is so, why don’t they release his doctor’s report?

The President’s refusal to release his medical bulletin further boosts the rumors.

On his alleged emergency trip to Singapore on Aug. 15, the President himself didn’t categorically deny it during his televised talk last Monday, Aug. 17.He said: "So stop this nonsense about me going to Singapore if at — I said, if at all. Kung gusto ko pumunta, pupunta ako. Wala kayong pakialam kung gusto kong pumunta. At I will not, I said under no circumstances I have the obligation. to keep it a secret.”

Secrecy and ambiguity equal rumors that refuse to die.

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

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