"It’s Mr. Duterte's duty to inform his constituents about his real physical state."
Every now and then, we hear reports either on mainstream or social media about President Duterte going on a short trip, to Hong Kong or to China or Singapore, for a hurried treatment of an unknown sickness he is suffering from. And then, almost immediately, his spokesman, Harry Roque, and Senator Bong Go, come out to deny it.
At age 75, an ordinary human being, man or woman, is not anymore in the pink of health. I should know: At my age (turning 93 next month), I am no spring chicken.
The work load of a President is overwhelming, too. He is responsible for the safety and well-being of 115 million Filipinos, especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am sure that being a president is not only very stressful, but also very lonely.
And now I see Duterte on television, having dark spots on his face and needing the help of aides to sit down or stand up. Indeed, aging is tough.
This is why I believe that Malacanang should make public the state of Mr. Duterte’s health regularly. This is his duty to his constituents.
No less than 29 petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 11479, otherwise known as the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020. My gulay, all I can say is that these 29 petitions against the controversial law cannot all be wrong!
What surprises me though is that a noted legal practitioner, former Marcos Solicitor General and Secretary of Justice Estelito Mendoza, has weighed in on the controversy. He wants the Supreme Court to dismiss all the petitions. He says the petitions do not sufficiently allege, much less show, that petitioners have committed any act in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Mendoza quickly approached the 15-members of the Supreme Court to appear as an “amicus curiae” or “friend of the court” to explain himself.
I don’t intend to argue with Mendoza. He is definitely acquainted with the law. In fact, he is one of the best litigators and I admire and respect him for that.
However, when Mendoza said that the petitioners “have not sufficiently alleged, much less shown that [they] have committed any act in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, thereby creating an actual controversy involving a legal demandable and enforceable right for exercise of judicial power under the Constitution,” he should be aware that the practitioners also sought a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the law. These TROs precisely would stop the occurrence of a justifiable demand before the Supreme Court. As a lawyer, this is also my opinion.
I will not dare debate with Mendoza since he’s certainly a better lawyer than I am. But I’d like to say at this point that the petitions being accompanied by TRO requests precisely should answer what Mendoza alleges.
The World Health Organization tells us that the COVID-19 pandemic could last for the next two years. This means that we will still have to face this enemy even beyond 2021, and despite the fact that countries, like Russia, has already developed a vaccine.
I don’t know how President Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will react to this statement of the WHO.
My only consolation for the return of the General Community Quarantine is that I can once again read my favorite newspapers, including the Manila Standard. Before this, I had to rely on television reports and social media posts.
The appeal of Rappler executive editor, Maria Ressa, to travel to the United States, supposedly to attend a screening of the documentary “A Thousand Cuts.” has been denied by the Court of Appeals which believed Ressa was a flight risk.
Ressa and her former researcher-writer were convicted by a Manila court for cyber libel in connection with the case of Wilfredo Keng, whom Rappler accused of being a drug dealer and of lending a sports car to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. The side of Keng was never reported by Rappler.
It must also be noted that Ressa is facing a tax evasion case and another cyberlibel suit.
Many Americans especially those in the media consider Ressa as a journalism heroine. Since she is also an American, if she decides to stay in the US, she can easily be a flight risk.
The right to travel is not absolute since there’s also a law on this. Ressa has a “hold departure order” usually given to people facing suits in court. And Ressa and her former writer-researcher have been sentenced to a period between six months to six years.
I am sure that her American journalist friends will make this about freedom of the press again. But we who are actually here know better.