Why doctors on social media are puzzled by Palace remark that Duterte is 88% healthy

July 14, 2020 - 5:05 PM
Duterte in April 13 briefing
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 13, 2020. (PCOO/Karl Norman Alonzo)

(Updated 6:00 p.m.) Several doctors on social media were puzzled over Palace’s statement that President Rodrigo Duterte‘s health condition is at 88% for his old age.

In a radio interview last Friday, July 10, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte’s physical health is like “any other 75-year-old.”

“Well, like any other 75-year-old, para naman pong nasa 88 po ang physical health ng ating Presidente. He is in Mindanao right now, he is working there and there are planned trips but for security reasons, I was prohibited from discussing his schedule,” Roque said.

Concerns about Duterte’s health were raised anew due to his seemingly frail appearances in his recent national addresses.

However, Roque’s latest remark about the president’s health was perceived as confusing and unusual by some medical practitioners online.

On Twitter, doctor Jonathan Sy expressed his frustration about this supposedly serious matter online.

Physician Jairus Cabajar, who is also a social media personality, quipped that Duterte might be an evolving Pokémon character.

Forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun, meanwhile, questioned the uncertainty in Roque’s response.

“You think? But you’re not a doctor. And what’s 88% physical health? May ganun?” Fortun said.

Former presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda responded to Fortun’s remark and quipped that Roque mentioned the number eight because it is a lucky number in Chinese culture.

“Since pro-China ang asta natin ngayon, double 8, super lucky, super healthy,” Lacierda said.

Other Filipinos, including social media personality Macoy Dubs, likened Duterte to a mobile phone that only has an 88% battery life.

Artist Tarantadong Kalbo also made a funny and creative comic strip that tells of an old electronic puppet that easily loses its battery charge.

c h a r g e r 🔌

Posted by Tarantadong Kalbo on Monday, July 13, 2020


Recent speculations about Duterte’s health heightened during his visit to military forces in Zamboanga City last July 3 wherein he looked frail and weak.

Roque explained that the president was just “emotional” over the shooting incident in Sulu which claimed the lives of four soldiers.

A recap of Duterte’s known illnesses

Last May, the Supreme Court junked the petition compelling the disclosure of Duterte’s health records, citing claims that he’s seriously ill are “unsubstantiated.”

However, the criteria for what constitutes a serious illness is not stated in Article VII, Sec. 12 of the 1987 Constitution, wherein:

“In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”

Duterte, himself, admitted to the public of having chronic and relatively serious ailments in the past.

In 2018, he disclosed he has Barret’s esophagus, a long-term development suffered by those who experience gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.

Duterte bared that he underwent non-surgical procedures endoscopy and colonoscopy for it.

In 2019, he announced that he is suffering from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes the drooping of one of his eyelids.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who is also his former presidential aide, downplayed this, saying it’s “nothing serious.”

Early this year, before the lockdown, the public speculated that Duterte might have kidney problems because of his skin discoloration.

He immediately denied these rumors in a national address and pointed out that everyone is bound to die.

“Kung sabihin mong mamatay ako, talagang mamatay ako. Pati ikaw p***** i** mong nagsasalita, mamatay ka rin. Walang lulusot sa atin dito na buhay. Pagod na ako,” Duterte said that time.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the article showed that Dr. Raquel Fortun is a former pathologist. This has been corrected.