Palace denies VERA Files’ FOI request on Duterte’s health; official statement, medical records ‘not on file’
The FOI process was riddled with technicalities and vague explanations.
Just when we thought he was looking better with the dark blotches on his face gone (by Honeylet’s facial cream?), the President’s health condition once again returned to the front page when he didn’t show up in the Barangay Summit on Peace and Order in Palo, Leyte on Friday, the first day of February.
The first statement on the 73-year old health status came from senatorial candidate, Christopher “Bong “ Go,a former aide who continues to be always with the President.
Go, not a doctor, said the President was “not feeling well.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, also not a doctor, confirmed Go’s explanation of the President’s absence in the Leyte event saying it should not be a cause of concern. “"Well he is not Superman, every person does not feel well sometimes... I don't think that the President cancelling an event in Tacloban (sic) because he is not feeling well is a cause of concern."
Panelo tried to spin Duterte’s absence in a scheduled event to the President’s favor: "We should in fact commend the President for knowing when to cancel a trip and resting his body if he is not feeling his usual strong self."
On Sunday, the President’s companion, Honeylet Avanceña- a nurse, not a doctor- posted in Facebook a video of her and Duterte reading news reports about his health seated across a kitchen table.
WhileAvanceña was obviously irked. Duterte resorted to his trade mark dark sense of humor asking “ those who believe in the news that I passed away, then I request of you, please pray for me, for the eternal repose of my soul.”
In another video, Duterte offered to be the messenger of the viewers message which he will bring after life: "Ano mga mensahe ninyo? Dadalhin ko. Pari, obispo, lahat. And 'yung last wish ng mga durugista, ilista ninyo. Ako na ang magdala doon sa langit o sa impyerno. Depende lang."
On Tuesday, Go gave an update on the President’s health by releasing a picture of Duterte’s visit to his mother’s grave Monday night, the 7th anniversary of the passing of Soledad Duterte.
News reports said according to Go, Duterte arrived at his mother’s tomb 11:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4 “after meeting with the families of soldiers killed in the Jolo blasts and in an encounter in Patikul last Feb. 2.”
That statement, which gave the impression that Duterte went straight from the meeting with the slain soldiers’ familiesin Joloto his mother’s grave in Davao, would not pass an alert editor’s eye if written by a reporter. There’s a one-day gap. But I suppose Go wanted the public to believe that the President is healthy and fit and that despite his hectic official duties, he took time to visit his mother’s tomb.
We just have to take note of it together with all the inconsistencies that Duterte and his officials say about his health. That’s what happens when you are not telling the truth.
A survey by Social Weather Stations September 2018 showed 61 percent of adult Filipinos said the public should be informed about Duterte's state of health. Only 33 percent said the issue is a private matter and that full public disclosure is not necessary.
Forty-five percent of the respondents also believe that the President has health problems while 26 percent do not. Twenty-nine percent were undecided about the matter, said SWS.
Malacañang’s line has always been that the President has no “serious illness.” Therefore, the Constitutional provision that, “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health “(Section 12 of Art. VII states) does not apply.
Okay then. Let’s pray for him and the country.
Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”
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