Santiago: Illness is not a setback in running for president
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — An illness is not a setback in running for a government position, presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Sunday.
In the first presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and GMA 7, the senator defended the criticisms on her state of health.
She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer but claims she has beaten it.
It was ironic that at the debate, Santiago was sitting down at some parts of the debate while her opponents were standing up.
“Karapatan ko ‘yan under our constitution. Wala naman constitutional provision na if you get sick, you are disqualified,” she argued.
When asked why she was not able to attend several plenary sessions in the Senate in 2013 to 2016, Santiago explained that it was the height of her illness.
“Naghintay ako mamatay, pero ‘di ako pinatay ng guardian angel ko eh,” she said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
She said a senator’s job is sometimes even harder than a president’s.
“Kung tutuusin mo, ang senator ay kapantay lang o sobra pa kung ginagawa n’ya ang tama n’yang trabaho. Kung minsan, nilalabanan niya lahat ng senador na laban sa kanila. ‘Di gaya ng presidente, lahat nag a-alleluia sa kanya,” she said.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was paired with Santiago, at the debate did not argue.
“She’s telling you the truth. I don’t see Sen. Santiago passing away in the next 20 years, so what’s the problem?” he said.
“I’m only 70 years old plus six-year term as president, I would have served my country. I did not want to spend the next six years lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. In fact, I didn’t lie in bed. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself. I felt sorry for my country because graft and corruption is endemic and everybody’s fixed out, but nobody has done very much except Mayor Duterte,” Santiago said in her counter-rebuttal. JE
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