President Rodrigo Duterte’s common-law wife, Honeylet Avanceña, posted on Facebook a series of video clips of the President, mocking rumors about his “death.” This came after the President failed to show up in a barangay summit for peace and order in Palo, Leyte. DILG Secretary Dino said he had to attend other commitments while Bong Go texted reporters that the President was not feeling well.
“For those who believe in the news that I passed away, then I request of you, please pray for the eternal repose of my soul. Thank you,” he said in the video.
The Malacanang could have issued an official statement about the President’s real health status as the number of Filipinos concerned about his health has grown. The recent SWS survey showed 66% of adult Filipinos are worried about his condition, showing an increase from the last quarter’s survey of 55%. Sec. 12, Art. 7 of the Constitution requires the public to be informed of the president’s state of health in case of “serious illness.”
An SWS graph of the results of its “Extent of Worry on PRRD’s health” survey conducted in December 2018
On July 22, 2018, the President underwent a medical check-up on the eve of the SONA. It was in August 2018 when Joma Sison spread the rumor that the President was seriously ill and in a state of coma. October 3, 2018, the President went to Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City to undergo endoscopy and colonoscopy. It was later released that it was not yet cancerous. In November 2018, he skipped six meetings in the ASEAN Summit and the APEC gala.
The 1987 Constitution frames the president’s health as a matter of national security. Sec. 12, Art. 7 specifically states that–aside from public disclosure–the military chief and members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations shall not be denied access to the president in case of serious illness. VERA files filed an FOI request for an official statement or medical records on the President’s health condition but was denied.
As of press time, we are still waiting for the official statement coming from Malacanang. We can only hope for the good of the country.