Vultures make ado about nothing

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SAP Bong Go’s latest series of selfies posted on his Facebook page, prove it: “President Rodrigo Duterte is enjoying his brief vacation in Hong Kong with his family! Give yourself a break and check his social media pages; see for yourself that the President is human after all. It convincingly shows that the President is in a good healthy state.”

Truly, it is refreshing to see our President enjoying some personal time, free from all the other politicians and epals who capitalize on past state visits to show their apparent closeness to the President. It is calming to know that the President can afford to brisk away for a weekend off — at his advanced age — with his caring family and eat at normal Hong Kong restaurants, shop at common clothing stores, just like any typical Filipino on a brief vacation abroad. The Filipino people enjoyed seeing this — except for the vultures.

The opposition has a rule: Every overseas trip by the President is nothing but a cover-up for a medical check-up. What an atrocious proposition! The President, as the Head of State, is the country’s top diplomat and he determines our foreign policy. It is his duty to venture out of the Philippines once in a while to support our overseas Filipino workers and maintain diplomatic relations with other states. This is one of the marks of a true statesman.

It is immoral for people to get excited to the possibility of other people being stricken with a disease, in this case cancer. The yellows clearly had a field-day when the President said that he purportedly did not know where he was physically, specifically mentioning that “I will tell you if it’s cancer, it’s cancer. If it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere.”

It is normal for person at the age of 73 to have medical check-ups. Considering the busy schedule of a President, he should have all the medical consultations, even second, third and fourth opinions, as to the state of his health. Leading a country is a very stressful job, the presidents do not have it easy. In fact, the President of Vietnam, at the age of 61, just passed away last 21 September, due to a serious illness.

The Cabinet has been transparent in stating that the President underwent colonoscopy, endoscopy and submitted tissue samples at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan last week.

The fact remains that the President is far from what is being suggested by the opposition.
The 1987 Constitution provides, in Section 12, Article VII thereof, that “[i]n case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health. The Members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, shall not be denied access to the President during such illness.” Thus, only when the medical concern has entered the realm of “serious illness” that the administration shall be compelled to inform the Filipino people. Now, the conduct of medical tests on the President does not suffice for it to be treated as serious in nature, and Secretary Harry Roque has guaranteed the full disclosure of the medical information once it is determined to be as such.

Further, the 1987 Constitution provides that the seat of the presidency must be vacated only upon death or permanent disability, to wit: “In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of the President, the Vice President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.”

This means that even if the illness is determined to be of serious nature, it would not automatically mean that the President shall be required to step down. It is only when it renders him to be permanently disabled — a worse and grievous state — that the President shall be obligated to turn over his seat to the Vice President. This being so, any concern as to how the health of the President would incapacitate him, is very remote.

The yellows must instead focus in beefing up their Senatorial slate, none of which seem to have a clear chance in winning at next year’s mid-term elections. Joma Sison should shut up and enjoy the cool weather in The Netherlands, far from the ravenous mountains where his supposed cohorts have been holed in like Neanderthals for years. Sen. Antonio Trillanes should continue looking for his lost documents in his amnesty grant, else he should be ready to walk in his prison cell. And Vice President Leni Robredo must start recounting the ballots in her favor, otherwise, her seat will be awarded to Bongbong Marcos.

Definitely, there are things more important than wondering about a 73-year old man’s health — on whether it is of a serious illness enough to render him permanently incapacitated to perform his job as President of the Philippines. And given the recent posts of SAP Bong Go, President Duterte can be President until beyond the age of 100.

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