MANILA – There are no legal and factual grounds to compel President Rodrigo R. Duterte to disclose his health records, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement as he welcomed the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision junking the petition seeking the release of Duterte’s medical records and health bulletins.
“We note the latest decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the petition to disclose the President’s health records,” Roque said in a press statement.
During his commentary show aired on state-run PTV-4, Chief Legal Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that 13 SC justices voted against the petition while only two magistrates dissented.
“Naglabas po ang Korte Suprema ng desisyon doon sa finile nitong abugado na pinipilit ang Pangulong Duterte na maglabas ng findings sa kaniyang kalusugan. Dinismiss po outright (The Supreme Court released a decision on the petition of a lawyer compelling President Duterte to release the findings on the status of his health. The petition was dismissed outright),” Panelo said.
In a message to reporters, SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka confirmed the junking of the petition.
“I confirm the denial of the petition, but I have not seen the actual resolution of the Court yet. Hence, I cannot confirm how the Court voted. It would be best that we wait for the actual resolution of the Court and read it in its entirety,” Hosaka said.
In a petition filed in April, lawyer Dino de Leon said the public release of Duterte’s medical bulletins was necessary, “given the gravity of the illnesses openly acknowledged by the President.”
Roque said he believed the petition was lodged to distract Duterte who is currently busy exhausting all efforts to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We maintain that the petition has no legal and factual bases. We believe it is designed to distract the President from his job and erode the confidence of the Filipinos (in) PRRD’s leadership, particularly in this time when we are confronted with (an) extreme health crisis,” he said.
Panelo also welcomed the high tribunal’s decision, noting that Duterte, 75, need not divulge his health records because he has “no serious illness.”
“So walang batayan. Napakaliwanag naman po kasi na wala siyang malubhang sakit (So there is no basis [to compel Duterte to release his health records]. It’s very clear that he has no serious illness). He has no serious illness,” he said.
Duterte can only be forced to divulge his medical bulletins if he is seriously ill, Panelo said.
“Under the Constitution, ang pangulo ng bansa ay kino-compel na magbigay siya ng kalagayan ng kaniyang kalusugan kung siya ay may malubahang sakit. Iyan lamang po ang panahon na maaari nating pilitin ang isang presidente ng bansa (Under the Constitution, the president of a country can only be compelled to disclose the real status of his health if he has a serious illness. That’s the only time we can force the president of a country),” he said.
Article 7, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the President to declare the real status of his health “in case of serious illness.”
Roque said Duterte would continue doing his job, especially now that the country grapples with the Covid-19 crisis.
“Moving forward, President Duterte continues to attend to the affairs of the State as he monitors developments in the country, particularly the Covid-19 situation, and gives instructions to his Cabinet members on various efforts to fight this global health scare,” he said.
Duterte is suffering from muscle spasms, chronic back pains, and migraines. He also has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that weakens skeletal muscles responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body.
The President has also admitted that he has Barrett’s esophagus, a potentially serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Buerger’s disease, a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs.
Despite his age and health problems, Duterte has repeatedly assured the public that he remains fit to work and can fulfill his mandate as the country’s highest elected official. (IA/PNA)