President Rodrigo Duterte is fine and well despite claims by Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison that the President has gone into a coma, the Palace assured the public on Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte even looked energetic while attending the activities in Davao.
“First and foremost, contrary to what Joma Sison said, the President is fine and well in Davao participating in Kadayawan. He will have a public appearance tomorrow with the League of Cities in Cebu City,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing Monday afternoon.
Roque later hit back at Sison, saying that the NDF consultant does not truly know Duterte’s state of health as he lives far away in The Netherlands.
“Joma Sison is a spent revolutionary, not a doctor. Let’s not listen to him, as far as medical condition is concerned,” he said.
According to Roque, Duterte fell ill during a gathering with co-fraternity members in Lex Talionis Fraternitas but had since recovered.
Meanwhile, former Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, a member of the fraternity, told Roque the President stayed until 12 midnight and was, in fact, in “very high spirits.”
“I tell this to the critics of the President: Stop wishing him ill as far as his health is concerned,” Roque said. “Because every time you wish him ill, he only gets better.”
Asked whether the Palace will release Duterte’s medical documents to the public so as to put an end to the President’s health issue, Roque maintained there’s no issue to start with.
“What else is the issue? They say it’s coma, then we will see the President attending the League of Cities tomorrow. What documents do they need? The last time, your desks said he was rushed to the hospital, unconscious. I said he will go out in public because he has two public occasions [during that time]. So, every time he appears in public, we are debunking reports that he is on coma,” he said.
“Why do you need the document to show that he is in perfectly good health when people have said that he is in a coma and yet he will be around? So tomorrow, he will be there and that’s proof that he is not in a coma,” Roque added.
Meanwhile, Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Sison was being fed wrong information about the President’s health.
“[That is] absolutely false. Perhaps that is the wish of Joma Sison hence when he is fed with the wrong information on PRRD’s health he easily believes in it,” Panelo said in a statement sent to reporters Monday morning.
“Unlike Joma Sison, the President is in robust health. I wish him good health that he may live long enough to see the dawn of peace that has remained elusive between the communist insurgents and the armed forces,” he added.
In a Facebook post, Sison mentioned that the President’s face has darkened.
“Those who saw him reported that darkness of his face had become aggravated from its appearance the other day and that his walk and handshake had become more unstable,” said Sison.
“The latest report [still to be verified or negated] is that Duterte has gone into a coma since the afternoon or evening of Sunday, August 19,” he added.
Malacañang had earlier debunked all of Sison’s claim.
Aside from Roque, two senators also belied Sison’s claim that the President has gone into coma.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, said the public should not believe someone who is miles away from the country.
“The President is healthy. Why believe and report of someone hundreds of kilometers away in Europe?” Pimentel said.
Senator Cynthia Villar, for her part, said Duterte looked healthy when she saw him in Davao City last Friday and he even had a picture taking with barangay officials.
“He was in Davao Friday, eh ang saya-saya niya, galit na galit na naman dun sa mga corrupt. Paano namang nagkasakit ‘yun?” she told reporters.
She said the President gladly acceded to the request of barangay officials to have their photos with him.
“Because that was the first time he had a picture after he became President. ‘Yun ang first time so pinapila nilang lahat, katagal-tagal. I don’t think there is a problem,” Villar added.
She said she also does not see the need for a medical bulletin to prove Duterte’s health condition.
Over at the House of Representatives, lawmakers advised Duterte not to dignify Sison’s “coma” claim.
“He [Duterte] does not have to dignify that,” deputy speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, Jr. said at a news conference.
Pichay said Sison “must have dreamt that night, and to him his dream was like reality.”
Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo also played down Sison’s claim against the 73-year-old Duterte.
“He [Sison] must be talking about a different president,” said Castelo, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development.
Pichay said President Duterte might have a health condition and would have wanted to take enough rest.
“No president would ever face the public and say “I’m not healthy today,” anyway,” said Pichay.