Duterte health a matter of public concern: watchdog

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 08:51 AM

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MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's health is a matter of public concern and a medical professional speaking publicly on the matter will allay speculations, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said Thursday.

Rumors about the President's failing health swirled last week, prompting him to post a photo with his family in Davao City.

Malacañang on Wednesday assured the public that Duterte was "fit and healthy" for his age even after he said he was at risk of cancer.

The President's health should not be politicized as it concerns the welfare of all Filipinos especially in a time of crisis, said CMFR executive director Melinda de Jesus.

"The health of the president has everything to do with national welfare. A country needs a leader...to be in charge and therefore his state of health is a matter of public concern. There’s no question that those wanting to know about the state of health of the President are really seeking the public good," she told ANC.

Only a medical professional could attest to the President's health, she added.

"This is sympathy to the public and if the President and the Office of the President are sympathetic then they will readily say who’s the attending physician and that physician must speak up," she said.

"The idea of the secrecy brings up all kinds of sinister scenarios and that is what we are trying to save ourselves from. We have enough to worry about, to talk about. We do not have to add false info. If you had a medical professional out there, this would stop all kinds of speculation and it would inspire the kind of confidence that we need to have in the government that we have."

Those in-charge of the administration's communications must be responsible for informing the people on the President's health, according to De Jesus.

"If they are not taking care of it on behalf of the good of the nation then they are not serving their President well," she said.

Senate must look into when a senator takes on duties that are not part of his being a member of the chamber, De Jesus said on Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, the President's long-time aide.

Duterte had gone on Go's social media account to inform the public of his whereabouts as speculations swirled that he flew overseas.

Journalists, meantime, must have ways of looking for information not just from official sources, De Jesus said.

"There are sources there that are credible sources because they are in the know. The press must know how to use that kind of material and information as part of the narrative they present to the public to share with everyone that these are the conditions in which we live," she said.