President Rodrigo Duterte’s perceived absence throughout the election season is the latest of his prolonged periods of being out the public eye, prompting Filipinos to question his health again.
Duterte’s health had been a “touchy” subject since admitting his illnesses before. However, Filipinos continue to speculate that the president is not revealing everything.
This was pointed out by former Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay on Twitter.
“A public officer who is Commander in Chief & Chief Exec has a greater obligation than just prove he’s still alive,” Hilbay said.
There's something fundamentally wrong & disturbing about repeated proof of life shots of a President every time there's a public outcry over his prolonged absence.
A public officer who is Commander in Chief & Chief Exec has a greater obligation than just prove he's still alive.
— Pilo Hilbay (@fthilbay) May 20, 2019
So far, reporters were informed that Duterte won’t attend the proclamation of newly-elected senators at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
Notable periods of absences
Midterm elections 2019
Duterte was last seen on May 13 or Election Day to cast his vote in Davao city.
He was neither seen nor heard from since then amid the various election-related problems being faced by the Commission on Elections.
Rumors then came up on social media of him being rushed to Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan due to alleged cardiac arrest.
His daughter Davao city Mayor Sara Duterte also has no knowledge of his whereabouts or if he’s sick or not.
“I do not know where the President is. We only talk on special family occasions,” Sara said.
On May 19, Go sent a photo to the media of him and the president in Bahay Pangarap, his official residence, in Malacañang.
After not being seen for three days in February 2019, some Filipinos speculated he must have died from illness.
The last time people saw him was when he watched the biopic of soon-to-be senator Bato dela Rosa.
His live-in partner Honeylet Avanceña dispelled the rumors when she posted three videos on Facebook showing Duterte alive and well.
He even mocked those who spread such false information.
“For those who believe in the news that I passed away, and then I request of you, please pray for me, for the eternal repose of my soul. Thank you,” he said in one of the videos.
ASEAN Summit 2018
Some critics questioned the absence of Duterte on several important meetings at the Asia-Pacific Summit in Singapore in November 2018.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo attempted to assure the public that this has nothing to do with the chief executive’s physical health and well-being.
Panelo said Duterte “took power naps” when he skipped on official gala dinners with leaders of the nine Southeast Asian nations and other officials of other countries.
Duterte himself further defended himself for it. He said: “Why what’s wrong with my nap? I do not eat breakfast and I’m sure you ladies know that.”
Duterte’s non-appearance during the typhoon season last August 2018 prompted some Filipinos to trend the #NasaanAngPangulo, the hashtag previously used during the presidency of Noynoy Aquino for the same reason.
Duterte’s assistant and his team were the ones who went to flood-affected areas to give away relief goods and assist the victims on his behalf.
However, not all were happy with their use of a Duterte impersonator to entertain the flood victims of Marikina.
Some attendees of the visit felt offended that the administration would send a lookalike when they needed a leader.
A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed that 49% of Filipinos worry about Duterte’s health given that he is the oldest to be elected president at 73 years old.
In September 2018, Duterte admitted he underwent colonoscopy and endoscopy after he was diagnosed with Barret’s esophagus, a chronic illness developed from gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.
Colonoscopy and endoscopy are non-surgical procedures to examine a patient’s upper and lower digestive tracks.
No updates were given after of his health condition.
The public has the right to know the president’s health according to the 1987 Constitution.
According to Article VII, Section 12: “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”