Not the flu or in­di­ges­tion, se­ri­ous ill­ness only

Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion -

PRES­I­DENT Duterte is sick; he him­self said that. Just how sick we do not know. Most peo­ple think that the Pres­i­dent is duty bound to dis­close his med­i­cal con­di­tion ev­ery time he is sick. That is wrong. That obli­ga­tion arises only “in case of se­ri­ous ill­ness,” not when he has colds or the flu or in­di­ges­tion, for ex­am­ple. That is what the Con­sti­tu­tion says.

Whether the ill­ness is se­ri­ous or not, only his doc­tor/s can tell. Un­for­tu­nately for those who could not wait, the doc­tors can­not re­lease any in­for­ma­tion on the Duterte’s state of health with­out his con­sent be­cause of the con­fi­den­tial na­ture of the physi­cian-pa­tient re­la­tion­ship.

Duterte has al­ready an­nounced that he has a growth in his di­ges­tive sys­tem which must have been dis­cov­ered dur­ing his first colonoscopy/en­doscopy, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a re­peat of the pro­ce­dure. That the Pres­i­dent has not so far dis­closed the re­sults of the re­peat ex­am­i­na­tion of the “growth” can be in­ter­preted that he does not find the ill­ness se­ri­ous or he just doesn’t want to.

Ev­ery­one is en­ti­tled to pri­vacy, from the most pow­er­ful to the most in­signif­i­cant be­ing on earth. We usu­ally hide the fact that we are sick be­cause most of the time, it turns into a cir­cus. When I un­der­went an­gio­plasty more than 10 years ago, I made sure no one else knew ex­cept my im­me­di­ate fam­ily.

The trou­ble, how­ever, is that the ab­sence of in­for­ma­tion could give rise to spec­u­la­tion.I would not be sur­prised if there is al­ready gos­sip that the Pres­i­dent is dy­ing. (Here’s a warn­ing for those who are en­gaged in this gos­sip: many of them die ahead of the sup­pos­edly dy­ing one).

So while the Pres­i­dent is duty bound to in­form the na­tion of his state of health only in case of se­ri­ous ill­ness, he should con­sider the larger sce­nario of keep­ing the peo­ple calm. Sick­ness is a wor­ry­ing is­sue espe­cially that of a pop­u­lar pres­i­dent like Duterte. A So­cial Weather Sta­tion sur­vey val­i­dates this point; it says more than half of Filipinos are wor­ried that he will have health prob­lems.

The Pres­i­dent doesn’t have to make the an­nounce­ment him­self. He can au­tho­rize his doc­tors to re­lease his med­i­cal bul­letin. Or he can as­sign the job to his spokesper­son, Harry Roque.

That would be a vin­di­ca­tion to Roque who was caught red-faced af­ter he told the me­dia that his boss was just tak­ing the day off when he can­celled a Cab­i­net meet­ing, only to be con­tra­dicted by Duterte him­self when he an­nounced that he was in fact in a hos­pi­tal un­der­go­ing a di­ag­nos­tic pro­ce­dure.

That in­ci­dent and a sub­se­quent ad­vice pub­licly made by Duterte for Roque to aban­don his plan of run­ning for the Se­nate be­cause he could not win must have been jolt­ing to the spokesper­son. “I did not lie,” Roque con­tin­ues to swear to this day.

But where did he get his in­for­ma­tion that the Pres­i­dent was just tak­ing the day off? Did some­one pur­posely mis­lead him or was he sim­ply kept in the dark so that when pressed for an an­swer on the Pres­i­dent’s where­abouts, he spec­u­lated that his boss was sim­ply rest­ing?

Last week, in the af­ter­math of the two suc­ces­sive em­bar­rass­ing events, Roque was re­ported as pon­der­ing his fu­ture. He is re­port­edly be­ing of­fered the job of head­ing the re­vived of­fice of the Press Sec­re­tary. It would prob­a­bly make his de­ci­sion-mak­ing eas­ier if he were asked to an­nounce the Pres­i­dent’s state of health and as­sured that he wouldn’t have to make a “non-lie” again.

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