Malacañang insists Duterte ‘is well’ as opposition urges transparency after week’s absence

June 15, 2017 - 2:01 PM
Duterte at CDO presser Marawi Conflict
President Rodrigo Duterte answers questions during a press briefing after awarding soldiers wounded in the fighting in Marawi City. (Reuters file)

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang maintained on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte “is well” as two opposition lawmakers urged the administration to be transparent about the chief executive’s wellbeing because it is a “national concern.”

“The President is well,” Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

People “have to consider that he has been on the road for at least 23 days … fulfilling his martial law supervision, so it has been really brutal so we have to allow him this kind of rest,” Abella stressed.

The presidential spokesman did not categorically say if Duterte had seen a doctor but suggested it was likely he had consulted health experts.

Nevertheless, he said he was sure Duterte’s health was nothing to worry about.

Abella also said Duterte remained in Malacañang contrary to reports he was flying to Davao Wednesday.

Speculation about Duterte’s condition has been swirling, especially after he skipped Independence Day on Monday, after which Abella announced that he would have no official schedule for the rest of the week.

While most lawmakers said this was nothing to worry about, others also called on the Palace to be transparent about Duterte’s health and give regular updates.

However, Duterte critic Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano, and Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said a week’s absence could not be shrugged off.

“The absence of the President from the public is very unusual especially there is still an ongoing crisis in Marawi, much more to be absent for a week without explanation except to rest,” Alejano said.

“People cannot help but speculate about the status of the President’s health,” he added.

“The President’s health is a national concern. Transparency is a must,” Baguilat stressed and added that the most plausible explanation for the chief executive’s absence from the public eye for a week or more is health reasons.

“It’s most likely that he had to undergo a medical check-up. The results have to be disclosed to the public because ever since Cory (Aquino)’s time, a president’s health has been a national concern.”