Nothing wrong with Duterte–Palace
President Duterte is not suffering from any major illness, but opposition lawmakers are demanding that he explain his “unusual absence” from public functions since Sunday.
Malacañang on Thursday doused speculations that Mr. Duterte was sick, saying he was taking “some time off to rejuvenate” after spending 23 days on the road to oversee the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
“I’m saying that there is nothing to worry about in terms of sickness, major sickness. Considering the schedule that he has given, he needs to rest,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters.
Abella, however, could not give a definite date on the 72-year-old President’s return to work.
“He’s taking some time off so I cannot really give you the definite date [of his return to work]. He’s just taking some time off to rejuvenate,” he said. “Tired. He’s just tired. Like I said, he has been on the road for about 23 days.”
Mr. Duterte spent “private time” inside Malacañang for the fourth straight day on Thursday “mainly resting,” according to the spokesperson.
When asked if Mr. Duterte had seen a doctor, Abella said: “I am not privy to those matters but I am sure he has checked with his own experts.”
Mr. Duterte has not been seen in public since he condoled with the families of Marines killed in the Marawi siege at the Villamor Air Base and Marines headquarters in Fort Bonifacio on Sunday night.
He was absent during the Independence Day rites on Monday with Vice President Leni Robredo standing in for him at the last minute as he was reportedly tired and not feeling well.
National security issue
Two members of the “Magnificent Seven” independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives pressed the President to explain his absence from public functions.
“The absence of the President from the public is very unusual especially [since] there is still an ongoing crisis in Marawi. Much more to be absent for a week without explanation except to rest,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said in a group message to reporters.
Alejano said the Office of the President should be honest about Mr. Duterte’s condition, as his health was a matter of public interest and a “national security issue.”
“People cannot help but speculate about the status of the President’s health. Malacañang should be forthright in informing the public about this. [The] President’s health is a national security issue,” said Alejano, a vocal critic of the administration.
Asked if Robredo should take over in a temporary capacity while the President went on a leave of absence, he said he didn’t think such a scenario was likely.
“I think they will not do that even if assuming RRD is sick…” Alejano said, referring to Mr. Duterte by his initials.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, for his part, said he agreed with the Magdalo representative.
“The President’s health is a national concern. Transparency is a must,” he said.
Section 12, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution states that “in case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”
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