Palace to Joma: ‘Stop wishing Duterte ill’

MANILA — Malacañang on Monday debunked the rumor being spread by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is in coma and urged him to stop wishing the Chief Executive ill.

On his Facebook account, Sison claimed sources have told him that there was a “darkness” in Duterte’s face during the national convention of fraternity Lex Talionis Fraternitas of the San Beda Law School on Saturday (August 18).

Sison said the President was in coma since Sunday night although the report is still being verified.

Under the Constitution, the public should be informed of the President’s state of health.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off Sison’s remark stressing that Duterte showed up in events, adding that the communist leader should not make comments about the President’s health since he has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987 and is “not a doctor.”

“Contrary to what Joma Sison said, the President is fine and well in Davao participating in Kadayawan (festival). He will have a public appearance tomorrow (Tuesday) with the League of Cities in Cebu City,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

“As usual, Joma Sison does not know what he talks about. How will he know about the state of health of the President when he is far away in the Netherlands?” he added.

Roque said perhaps during the event, Duterte was simply pictured without wearing face powder.

“Maybe he’s not wearing powder. The President normally wears powder. Maybe it was just a photo taken of him without powder. I don’t see anything extraordinarily different from the President’s face,” Roque said.

“Sison is a revolutionary and not a doctor. Let’s not listen to him as far as medical condition is concerned,” he added.

Here to stay

Roque also appealed to Sison, as well as other critics of the President, to stop wishing Duterte ill, warning that attributing a disease to a person could be libelous.

“That’s always wishful thinking on his (Sison’s) part. But the President is here to stay. I don’t know if he can say the same thing about himself and about his movement,” Roque said.

Sasabihin ko lang po doon sa mga kritiko ni Presidente (I just want to address the President’s critics), stop wishing him ill as far as his health is concerned. Every time you wish him ill, lalong lumalakas (he gets stronger),” he added.

Asked if the Palace would release Duterte’s medical records to put rumors to rest, Roque stressed that the President’s public appearances were enough proof that he is in good health.

“Every time he appears in public we’re debunking reports that he’s in coma so why do you need a document to show that he’s in perfectly good health? Tomorrow, he will be there (League of Cities) and that’s proof that he’s not in coma,” Roque said.

Roque insisted that there was no need to make public the President’s health records because “there’s no information that the President is sick.”

“I will ask but the President already said that he was already given a clean bill of health. So that’s actually making public the results of his medical tests,” Roque said.

“He’s healthy. I talked to former Secretary Vit(aliano) Aguirre who was in the fair, he was fine. He stayed till 12. He was in high spirits. He enjoyed the company of his brods in Lex Talionis,” he added.

Roque, however, said Duterte has complained about his migraine in public but “that’s about it.” Duterte earlier said he suffered from back aches he acquired from a spinal injury.

Robust health

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for his part, described Sison’s remark as “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. Unlike Joma Sison, the President is in robust health,” Panelo said.

“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.

Roque, meanwhile said Duterte is still open to peace talks with the CPP as long as they were held in the Philippines and conditions were met.

Hindi ko po sinasara ang pinto pero habang nagkakaroon ng mga guni-guning ganyan si Joma Sison, napakahirap naman makipag-usap sa kanya (I’m not closing the door, but while he makes hallucinations like that, it’s difficult to talk to him),” Roque said.

Last July 22, Duterte underwent his routine medical checkup at Cardinal Santos Hospital, a day before he delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), where he was reported to be “in good health.” (PNA)