Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday President Rodrigo Duterte is not compelled to reveal to the public the state of his health.
He made the statement amid the growing calls for |Duterte to make public the state of his health and the persistent reports he is seriously ill.
Meanwhile, the Palace said Monday the rumors about President Duterte’s health are not a “serious matter” and maintained that the Chief Executive had spent his five-day absence from the public eye to focus on his duties privately.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters he called Duterte on Sunday to inform him about the speculations on his health.
He said Duterte would reveal the state of his health if it was a serious cause for public concern.
He denied that Duterte was rushed to a private hospital on Sunday and said the President was only out of the public eye for a week to finish signing papers.
Guevarra said that while the 1987 Constitution required the President to divulge any serious sickness, it only applied to cases when the President was no longer capable of performing his official functions.
“The Constitution requires the President to divulge any serious illness on his part. If the illness is not serious enough to affect the discharge of his official functions, the President has no duty to inform anyone,” Guevarra said.
He said that, since Duterte was not seriously ill and remained capable of performing his functions, the status of his health was still covered by his right to privacy.
“Like any citizen, the President enjoys the right to privacy under the Constitution,” Guevarra said.
He made the statement after rumors circulated online on Sunday that the President suffered a stroke and was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.
The Palace rejected the reports and released photos of the President with his former special assistant and presumptive senator Bong Go while in Bahay Pagbabago inside Malacañang.
Guevarra said the sources of the rumors as well as those who were spreading them could not be held liable under the law.
“During martial law era, there was a presidential decree that criminalized rumor-mongering, but it was already repealed,” Guevarra said.
He said the absence of such law only proves the difference between the Duterte administration and the dictatorship during the martial law era.
He said the rumors on the health of President Duterte were “political propaganda” that should not be dignified.
Duterte’s week-long absence from the public eye had triggered fresh speculation about his health.
Rumors swirled Sunday that Duterte was confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, the same hospital where the President underwent an endoscopy last year. With Nat Mariano and PNA