Go: Duterte in ‘kama’—not coma
President Duterte is not in a coma but in a “kama” (bed), his close aide said on Monday, as Malacañang scoffed at the claim of exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison that Mr. Duterte had lapsed into unconsciousness.
Sison said another report that had been circulating was that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter, and key members of the Cabinet had “formed a caretaker committee to run the government while Duterte is indisposed.”
But Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go said Sison was dreaming. “[The President] is in bed resting when I spoke to him at 2 a.m.,” Go said on Monday.
Go shot a video of Mr. Duterte in Davao City and showed it live on Facebook on Monday night.
The video showed the President at a table with a woman and waiting to be served dinner in a place Go did not identify. He also did not identify the woman.
“I am alive, fairly healthy and I’m having dinner with a beautiful lady,” Mr. Duterte said in the video.
The President said it was Sison who was sick, as the communist leader had been in and out of hospital in the Netherlands.
“The truth is the Netherlands is complaining because you’ve been in and out of the hospital. You are not paying and you are abusing the hospitality of the Netherlands,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President urged Sison to come home if he was sick. “We will provide you space” in New Bilibid Prison, Mr. Duterte said.
Mr. Duterte has been in Davao City since Friday.
Sison, the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, posted on his Facebook account a picture of Mr. Duterte mingling with his Lex Talionis fraternity brothers on the night of Aug. 18 in Davao City.
Sison said “those who saw him reported that the darkness of his face had become aggravated” and that his walk and handshake had become more unstable.
“The latest report (still to be verified or negated) is that Duterte has gone into coma since the afternoon or evening of [Sunday],” he said.
Sison said the people were waiting for Mr. Duterte’s appearance and for a medical bulletin from Malacañang.
Earlier on Monday, the Palace insisted that the President was fine.
The chief presidential legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said Sison was fed wrong information. “Unlike Joma Sison, the President is in robust health.”
Reacting to Sison’s Facebook post, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, “That’s always wishful thinking on [Sison’s] part but the President is here to stay.”
Roque added, “I don’t know if he (Sison) can say the same thing [about] himself and his movement.”
At a news briefing, Roque wondered how Sison would know the health condition of the President when the communist leader was in “faraway” Netherlands, where he has been in exile for several decades now.
Quoting former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, a fraternity brother of Mr. Duterte, Roque said the President was “fine.”
Mr. Duterte stayed up until midnight of Saturday and was in “very high spirits,” enjoying the company of his fraternity brothers, according to Roque.
Asked about the President’s darker complexion, Roque said he did not know whether the President was not wearing face powder when the picture was taken of him attending the national convention of his fraternity.
On Mr. Duterte’s supposed unstable movements, Roque said if the President was shaking it was because of anger over rampant corruption in the government.
The President has admitted he is suffering from four different ailments, including Buerger’s disease, a condition that leads to constriction of the blood vessels due to accumulation of nicotine.
On numerous occasions, Mr. Duterte had to skip important official functions due to health reasons.
The President had also admitted that he was hooked on Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller commonly used by cancer patients.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Sunday urged Malacañang to come clean and make public Mr. Duterte’s health condition, days after the President spoke again of quitting because he was getting old and tired.
“His long absences from the public eye even during important events raise speculation [about] the [status of his] health,” Alejano said in a statement.
The 1987 Constitution guarantees the people’s right to be informed about the President’s health, he said.
In the Senate, allies of Mr. Duterte dismissed rumors of him falling into a coma.
“The President is healthy,” Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III told reporters in a text message.
Sen. Cynthia Villar said the President appeared perfectly fine when she met him in Davao City a few days ago. —WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP AND MARLON RAMOS
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