Duterte has no serious ailment; limits activities to minimize COVID-19 exposure — Panelo

Published April 14, 2021, 2:46 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has no life-threatening ailment but has scaled down his public activities to reduce exposure to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a Palace official.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on April 12, 2021.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo explained that it was prudent to limit the President’s engagements especially after several Presidential Security Group (PSG) members contracted COVID-19.

The President, being a senior citizen, also practices self-discipline by observing health protocols to avoid getting infected during the pandemic, Panelo added.

“Gaya ng paliwanag natin at iba pang opisyales na kaya nililimitahan ni Presidente Duterte ang kanyang paglalabas para ma-minimize, maiwasan ‘yung hindi pangangailangan exposure niya dito sa sakit na coronavirus (As officials and I have explained, President Duterte has limited his trips outside to minimize unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus disease),” he said during his “Counterpoint” program Tuesday, April 13.

“Kasi yung mga PSG, ‘yung mga close-in security niya pati ilang member ng Gabinete gaya ni Sec Delfin Lorenzana, nagkaroon ng virus, nahawaan eh. Alangan naman ‘yung Presidente palalabasin mo sa isang event, papaikutin mo tapos ‘yung mga kasama puro may sakit eh di nagkahawaan sila (Because the PSG, the close-in security and some Cabinet members, including Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have been infected with the virus. So would you let the President go out to an event, have him roam around while his colleagues are sick? They’ll just infect other people),” he added.

Panelo also noted that the 76-year-old President was taking health precautions especially since he is a senior citizen, the group known to be vulnerable to the virus infection.

“Si Presidente alam niya disiplina sa sarili. Alam niya rin ang tungkulin bilang tao at presidente na alam mo nang may panganib eh bakit mo susuungin nang hindi naman kailangan (The President has self-discipline. He also know his responsibility as a person and president that if you know there’s danger, why would you unnecessarily go there?),” he said.

“Tandaan ninyo si Presidente ay nasa edad na high risk, na madaling madapuan ng sakit lalo na coronavirus. Marami namamatay, mga edad 70 paakyat (Remember the President is at an age that is high risk, vulnerable to illness especially the coronavirus. Many people age 70 and above have died),” he added.

Even as the President’s public events have been limited, Panelo assured the nation that Duterte remains in good health condition. He rejected nasty rumors that Duterte was supposedly in poor health following his recent two-week absence in the middle of a raging pandemic.

“Nakita ninyo naman nag-golf pa, nag-swing pa siya. Naglalakad, nag-jogging, nag motorsiklo. ‘Yung mga dati niyang sakit, hindi naman life-threatening yun, yung kanyang mga nakuhang sakit noon siya ay mayor pa (You’ve seen him swing a golf club, walk, jog, and ride a motorcycle. His past illnesses, which he had since he was mayor, were not life-threatening),” Panelo said.

“Kaya huwag kayong mag-alala. Si Presidente ay nasa mabuting kalusugan (So do not worry. The President is in good health),” he added.

Panelo also agreed with the survey results showing that many Filipinos considered the President’s health was a public matter. But he insisted that under the Constitution, the President’s health condition would only be released to the public in case of a serious illness.  “Sa ngayon, wala naman karamdaman (At present, he has no such illness),” he said.

The President resumed his weekly televised address Monday, April 12, lashing out at critics speculating that he was allegedly in declining health.

Duterte said he had no illness that would prevent him from exercising the powers of the presidency. He admitted though that he intentionally stayed out of public eye in the last two weeks after his critics kept taunting him. 

The President last appeared on state television on March 29 when he delivered his “Talk to the People.” He scrapped his public address last week following a surge in coronavirus cases, including those affecting some of his security personnel.

While some people were looking for him and others suspected his alleged poor health, the President’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Go released photos of Duterte playing golf, riding a motorbike, and jogging inside the Palace compound last weekend. 

Duterte, in his remarks Monday, said he was just staying in Malacañang all along, “sleeping alone.” But he said he could home to Davao City anytime since he was a resident there.