Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that he is in bad shape due to old age, Malacañang on Sunday said he would continue fulfilling his mandate to serve the public.
“Whatever ailment an elderly has, ordinarily, he has that. But he will continue working. He said, ‘I’ll perform my duties, whatever happens to me,’” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in radio interview.
“If you will notice, his schedule does not change, despite his health issues. And he not only does survive, he does it well,” Panelo added.
Panelo issued these statements after the 74-year-old leader said he was not in the best of health, given his age.
“I have all the ailments now because I’m old. If you will ask me, are you okay, Mr. President? Are you in the best of health?’ Of course not,” he said in a GMA News interview.
“I am old, life has begun to take its toll on my health. And if you say I have an ailment, I do have. You name it, I have it. So there will be no debate,” Duterte added.
After he had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan last month, President Duterte learned that he has muscle spasms triggered by his minor motorcycle accident at the Presidential Security Group’s compound in Manila, doctors said.
He also used an air purifier on several occasions.
In October, he revealed he has a rare neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis
, characterized by weakness in the muscles that control eye and eyelid movement and facial expression.
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In his previous speeches, the President said he also suffered from migraines, nausea, spinal injury, Buerger’s disease, and Barrett’s esophagus.
The Palace has played down health concerns about the President, who will head to Busan, South Korea to attend the commemorative summit between ASEAN and Korea on Nov. 25 to 27.
Panelo on Sunday also dismissed as wishful thinking a London-based think tank’s assessment that Vice President Leni Robredo would lure more foreign investors if she were to replace Duterte as head of state and government.
Panelo slammed Capital Economics for projecting better economic prospects in the Philippines in the event that Robredo replaces Duterte.
“That is wishful thinking. They are interferring with the sovereignty and voice of the people who overwhelmingly elected him,” Panelo said on a radio interview.
“They are meddling in the affairs of the government,” he added.
Capital Economics’ senior economist Gareth Leather said investors might welcome a leadership change in the Philippines given President Duterte’s alleged “authoritarian tendencies” and controversies hounding his health status.
“We don’t know much about what Ms. Robredo’s economic agenda would be if she took office, but given her fierce opposition to Duterte’s authoritarian tendencies, including his willingness to undermine political institutions, a change in president would probably be welcomed by investors,” Leather said Friday in a report.
“Since Duterte took office, approved foreign investments have been much lower than previous years,” Leather added, citing the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The report also said the President’s massive popularity enabled him to pass reforms that might not have otherwise made it through Congress.
Panelo, however, said foreign investments have actually increased under the Duterte administration.
“They are definitely wrong about that. Our economic managers have said that investments especially foreign investments are good,” he said.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, foreign direct investments (FDI) showed net inflows of $242 million in May 2019, representing an 85.1 percent drop from the $1.6 billion in net inflows posted in May 2018.
This was the weakest monthly inflow of long terms investments into the country since March 2015 — or over four years ago — which saw FDI inflows of only $200.4 million.
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