Not the flu or indigestion, serious illness only
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.