POSTSCRIPT / May 21, 2019 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Proclamation today: Du30 proof-of-life

PRESIDENT Duterte could dispel doubts about his state of health if/when he shows up today, based on Commission on Elections’ optimistic preparation, to witness the proclamation of his winning bets in the May 13 election for senators.

The President’s possible appearance at the Philippine International Convention Center for the proclamation would break his one-week absence from the public eye that had spawned rumors that he was dead or dying.

(We strongly suggest that Duterte arrive on time lest the left wing of the gallery start referring to him as “the late Mr. President.”)

Seeing the 74-year-old Chief Executive in the flesh is more convincing than being shown proof-of-life photos of him reading the latest copy of the top newspaper in town (the Philippine STAR) with the senator-to-be Bong Go as witness.

Skepticism has clouded the public mind. With the proliferation of fake news and doctored photos, many news-seekers have grown wary of information strewn around the web without the seal of respected media of long standing.

Malacañang has rejected suggestions to issue a medical bulletin to counter rumors of the President having been taken to a San Juan hospital. Cynics asked what is wrong with saying that the President had a checkup and was found physically fit – if he is indeed in fine shape?

Section 12 of Article VII of the Constitution says: “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”

The Palace zeroed in on that “serious illness” part of Section 12 as the (only) situation when there may be need for a medical bulletin.

Everybody who can afford the high cost of medical attention and health care in this country wants some kind of checkup and treatment for bothersome ailments, real or imaginary. The President is no exception.

 When obit writers start researching

MEDIA are sometimes misunderstood when they report worrisome signs of physical strain or prolonged absence from public view of the President. That should not be, considering that the Duterte himself sometimes talks about his aches and pains and a number of afflictions.

In the United States, big news organizations have a dedicated writer, sometimes a whole staff, with the seemingly ghoulish task of updating data and researching on the president and other prominent personalities who in their estimation may just expire or get killed any day soon.

When the subject-person dies or is assassinated, a detailed account of his life, and collateral information – a virtual library – is uploaded in the public market in minutes.

When these obituary writers come to interview their subject, that is at times taken to mean that in their dark view his/her days are numbered — or that the person is so important as to be missed by the nation or the world at large.

Huwag na lang sana, but if our Rodrigo Roa Duterte goes by whatever exit, as every mortal has to sooner or later, he will not be deprived of the universal notice due the late Mr. President.

Once given the status of a “rock star” by his press secretary excited over his boss’ earning global curiosity early in his debut years for his foul utterances and iconoclastic stance on things normally held sacred, Duterte will get his share of attention with or without a medical bulletin or a death certificate.

So if his own constituents – and the media — ask about his state of health or mind, it should be considered normal normal, not like the new normal that he seems bent on establishing below the bar already lowered during his first three years.

The last time he was seen in public was in his home city of Davao on May 13 – a week ago – when he voted in the midterm election. Before that, from April 29 to May 4 (six days), he was also out of sight or media coverage.

His close-in assistants, especially spokesman Sal Panelo, should convince him to have a GPS chip embedded in his back (better than a tattoo) so he could be located easily when inquisitive media demand to know where their favorite subject is.

A number of times, the President was also a no-show in important events where he was expected or scheduled to drop by or to deliver a speech, including several campaign rallies of his PDP-Laban candidates.

Even on foreign trips, Duterte sometimes skipped important events or functions. On April 26, he was absent from the gala dinner for the world leaders attending the Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing. His spokesman explained that he had migraine.

 Age 33 is too old for ‘youth’ solon?

AS IF having to explain the pile of technical glitches involving critical automated voting paraphernalia were not enough headache, the Comelec has to clarify reports that it was set to accept the late substitution of withdrawn nominees of the Duterte Youth Party-list.

National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema has quit his post to substitute for his wife as the Duterte Youth PL first nominee for a House seat. Why was his move given due course when it was reportedly made after the deadline?

A consenting Comelec could fix that date/time problem, but it turned out that Cardema is 33 years old, while the pertinent law says a youth nominee must be not older than 30. He better get a medical certification that some persons aged 33 could be “isip-bata” enough to be youths. (No English translation available.)

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 21, 2019)

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