A ‘Product of Boredom’? Lawyer asks Supreme Court to compel Duterte to release health records

President Rodrigo Duterte in a March 30 address on COVID-19, <i>Photo: ABS-CBN News</i>
President Rodrigo Duterte in a March 30 address on COVID-19, Photo: ABS-CBN News

A lawyer yesterday asked the Supreme Court to compel President Rodrigo Duterte to release his medical records, saying that this was “of paramount interest” to the Filipino people.

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“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 said in a petition filed in the Court titled “Extremely Urgent Petition for Mandamus.” A mandamus is an order from the court compelling a government official to fulfill their lawfully neglected duties to the public.

He’s asked the president to disclose within seven days his latest medical, psychological, and psychiatric exam results, as well as health records since he assumed office in June 2016.

De Leon said it was the public’s right to know the state of Duterte’s health, and that the president’s public appearances to address the COVID-19 pandemic have been marked with “incoherent…unintelligible ramblings” broadcast during the “unholy hours of the night,” that were “seven and a half hours late than the announced time.”

He also said Duterte appeared to be in a “pallid condition” when the chief executive signed the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020 on March 25.

Duterte’s Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo countered De Leon by saying that his petition does not have any legal basis.

“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,” Panelo said in a statement.

(Well, Sal, that’s a mouthful right there.)

While Panelo agreed that the public has the right to know the status of the president’s health, he said this only applies if Duterte is suffering from a grave illness. He also said that the petition was just a product of De Leon’s boredom from the Luzon lockdown, which was imposed since March 17.

“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 [the] petitioner’s boredom as a result of the enhanced community quarantine. He may instead want to use his time by brushing up his law.”

It’s no secret that the 75-year-old president has had his share of illnesses. In October last year, Duterte admitted to suffering from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness, including drooping eyelids. Duterte has also said previously that he suffers from daily migraines and ailments including Buerger’s disease, an illness that affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.

Read: What ‘unbearable pain’? Allies circulate doctored shots of Duterte on motorcycle amid health concerns

The oldest elected Philippine leader has also figured into a string of motorcycle accidents, the most recent of which caused him “unbearable pain” that prompted him to cut short a state visit to Japan, and attend an ally’s wake bearing a cane. Despite all these, his allies have claimed that he is still in good health, at one point even releasing doctored shots of Duterte to dispel rumors that he is seriously ill.

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