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Palace: Duterte knows his body best

/ 04:31 AM November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — “President Duterte knows his body best … and can determine whether he can handle work or not,” his spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said on Tuesday, explaining that he can still work while resting in his house in Davao City instead of going on a leave as earlier announced.

“The President is his own man. He determines whether he is in good shape or not,” Panelo said.

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Before flying home on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte, 74, had even managed to visit the wakes of business tycoons John Gokongwei Jr. and Lucio Tan Jr. and that of the wife of a retired military general, Panelo said.

He also met with Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari in Malacañang and attended the birthday celebration of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco in San Juan City.

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Assuring the public about President Duterte’s state of health, Panelo said: “He’s OK … Haven’t you noticed the pictures? When the President sleeps well, he looks well-rested. He walks briskly. But if he didn’t get enough sleep, he’s just like the rest of us,” he said.

‘Work from home’

On Monday, Panelo announced that the President was going on a three-day break to rest, and that the executive branch will be run by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

He later took this back and said the President would no longer have a break but had chosen to “work from home.”

“At home, he can rest after finishing work, unlike in the office where there are many distractions,” Panelo said, adding that the President might be tired, “(b)ut like the man that he is, he really wants to work. For as long as he is the President, he will fulfill his duty to the fullest with passion and dedication.”

The Palace official declined to say how long the President would be staying in Davao City, saying it depended on how much rest he would need.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reiterated that the 1987 Constitution does not contain any provision allowing a sitting President to go on leave.

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“The Constitution does not provide for a vacation leave for the President. In fact, I never heard a President taking a vacation leave because there are a lot of legal implications,” Drilon said.

Asked if the President staying home was just the same as him going on leave, he said: “No. The fact is that he remains the President. When he goes on a vacation leave, the question [becomes], ‘Is he still the President during the time he is on vacation leave?’”

The situation is different from the President assigning an officer in charge when he goes on leave, said Drilon, a former justice official.

“That means he is still the President and just to run the day-to-day operation, he assigns an officer in charge. But when he goes on vacation leave, there are a lot of legal implications,” he said.

Panelo’s statement about the President going on leave again fanned speculations about his health. Last month, the President opted to cut short his official visit to Japan due to “unbearable” back pain.

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TAGS: Duterte’s health, Rodrigo Duterte
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