Lawyer asks Supreme Court to compel Duterte to disclose medical, psychological health records

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2020 07:29 PM | Updated as of Apr 13 2020 10:28 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 6, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - A lawyer has asked the Supreme Court to compel Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to disclose within 7 days his latest medical and psychological and psychiatric exam results, health bulletins, and other health records since he assumed office.

"Do we still have a physically and mentally healthy President? Is he still the one making decisions to manage and put an end to the current crisis?" lawyer Dino de Leon asked in his Extremely Urgent Petition for Mandamus filed with the Supreme Court Monday, citing the people's constitutional right to know.

De Leon noted Duterte’s "pallid condition" in his latest appearances, calling his statements "incoherent, unresponsive, and filled with unintelligible rumblings."

He claimed the President seems to be physically unwell, his statements resembling those of a "drunken monologue."

“As the country continues to battle the disastrous and multidimensional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is arguably no other more appropriate time than today to assure the Filipibno People that their Chief Executive – the very person elected to lead the nation during these trying times – is unquestionably capable to manage the developing and post-crisis situations,” De Leon said.

In a statement sent to ABS-CBN News, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said De Leon's petition "warrants an outright dismissal".

"The petition does not have any factual or legal bases. The allegations arising therefrom are based purely on speculations. It is hornbook doctrine that a petition before a court of law cannot be anchored on mere conjectures or surmises," he said.

He also reminded De Leon that the public should indeed be informed of the details of the president's health, but only if the president is suffering from a serious illness.

"Such is not the case here. There is no evidence submitted before the high court that the President is suffering from a serious illness," Panelo said.

"The suit may have been a product of petitioner's boredom as a result of the enhanced community quarantine. He may instead want to use his time by brushing up his law," he added.

A mandamus petition compels a tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person to perform a ministerial duty unlawfully neglected.

Named as respondents to the petition are President Duterte and the Office of the President through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

De Leon listed 21 occasions when Duterte begged off from appearing at the last minute and 5 periods of prolonged absences from public view ranging from 5-7 days.

Saying he was "deeply worried" about the President's health, De Leon said he filed a freedom of information request with the Office of the President but his request was denied.

The mandamus petition is anchored on section 12, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution requiring the President to inform the public of the state of his health in case of serious illness.

De Leon argued Duterte's previously disclosed illnesses are "serious."

According to De Leon, Duterte previously said he has Myasthenia Gravis, Buerger's Disease, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Barrett's Esophagus aside from "spinal issues", and "daily migraines."

De Leon also claimed the President might have "arteriovenous fistula" as shown by an abnormally large bulging vein on his left arm.

AV fistula, he said, could either be congenital or acquired thru complications in cardiac catherization or surgical creation for hemodialysis, based on information in online websites and encyclopedia.

But he also acknowledged that the President’s bulging vein may be the “physical symptom of thrombosis” due to his Buerger’s Disease.

De Leon used Duterte's previous admission of taking Fentanyl against him, saying a common side effect of Fentanyl is "unusual thinking.”

"Thus, a person taking Fentanyl would have a hard time maintaining clear thought and lucidity," he said.

To justify resort to a mandamus petition, De Leon said that given the gravity of the illnesses openly acknowledged by PRRD, the public release of his medical bulletins becomes a "ministerial duty" upon request from any concerned citizen. Mandamus can only compel the performance of ministerial tasks.

In addition, De Leon also said his request was based on the people’s right to be informed of matters that affect them under section 7, Article III of the 1987 Constitution.

“The public should know whether or not the one they have entrusted at the helm of the government is still fit to run the bureaucracy, or to put it a little more bluntly, is really the one calling the shots as we face what could possibly be the greatest threat to our nation,” he said.