Palace: The president is in good health, will inform public if sick

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte receives the credentials of Thailand’s Ambassador to the Philippines Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng during a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace on May 21, 2019. | Presidential photo by Ace Morandante

Malacañang laughs off rumors about Duterte’s condition

Malacañang on Monday, May 20, insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte was actually in good health, saying that he merely laughed off rumors he was confined in the hospital.

According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s voice was “very strong” and “upbeat” when they discussed the rumors about the president’s condition over the phone on Sunday, May 19.

“He (Duterte) was there in Bahay Pagbabago, signing papers. I talked to him yesterday (Sunday), his voice was very strong. He just laughed it off,” Panelo said at a press briefing.

“He never mentioned anything (about illnesses). But from the sound of his voice, he was very upbeat,” he added.

Rumors surfaced on Sunday about the president being confined at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan — the same hospital where he underwent an endoscopy last year — and that the hospital was on “code blue,” which refers to a patient suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest.

Malacañang denied the rumors; however, Panelo said Duterte neither confirmed nor denied that he went to the hospital.

“[The president] said he neither confirmed nor denied [that he went to the hospital]. You draw your own conclusions,” he said.

“To him, it’s not a serious matter. Because if it’s serious, he always tells the public about it. Remember, he tells you when he is sick, or if he went to [see] the doctor,” he added.

The Palace expressed gratitude over the public’s concern for the president’s health and assured everyone once again that it would let them know of any serious developments on Duterte’s well-being.

“Let me assure the nation that if there is anything wrong with the president’s health serious enough to be of our concern, he will tell us,” Panelo said.

‘Right to privacy under the Constitution’

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the Constitution only required the Chief Executive to disclose any serious illness.

“If the illness is not serious enough to affect the discharge of his official functions, the president has no duty to inform anyone. Like any citizen, the president enjoys the right to privacy under the Constitution,” he said on Monday.

The president resurfaced in public on Tuesday, May 21, after a week of absence.  He welcomed Thailand’s Ambassador-Designate to the Philippines Vasin Tuangprateesaeng who presented his credentials at Malacanang.

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