Duterte enjoys right to privacy if illness not serious: DOJ

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2019 09:41 AM

MANILA - President Duterte has no duty to inform anyone about his illness if it will not affect the discharge of his official functions, the country's justice secretary said in a statement. 

"The Constitution requires the President to divulge any serious illness on his part. But if the illness is not serious enough to affect the discharge of his official functions, the President has no duty to inform anyone. Like any citizen, the President enjoys the right to privacy under the Constitution," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a statement. 

The President has long complained of suffering from Barrett’s esophagus -- an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. Over the weekend, rumors circulated that the President was hospitalized at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, said Duterte was in his residence at the Palace signing papers. "I just talked to him, he is neither confirming nor denying that he went to the hospital," he said. 

Former presidential aide Christopher “Bong” Go also released photos showing Duterte holding a copy of a newspaper for Sunday in Bahay Pangarap in MalacaƱang Park.

President Duterte was last seen in public during the May 13 midterm elections when he cast his vote in his hometown Davao City.

The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, meanwhile, warned the public to remain vigilant amid rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte was hospitalized last week. 

In a statement, CPP founder and NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said Duterte's health is a matter of public interest "especially because he is known to be afflicted by chronic illnesses which he himself admits."

He said he is looking forward to the proclamation of new senators, tentatively scheduled Tuesday evening, to see if the President will show up. 

"Kung totoong Code Blue si Duterte, maliligayahan ang sambayanang Pilipino. Pero hintayin ko muna ang proclamation ng mga pekeng senador para makita ko kung makakasipot siya o hindi," he said in a Facebook post.