Duterte health

Duterte on health rumors: ‘Want me to die? Pray harder’

Pia Ranada

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Duterte on health rumors: ‘Want me to die? Pray harder’

ADDRESSING RUMORS. President Rodrigo Duterte records his weekly public address about the pandemic on April 12, 2021, at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse.

Photo by Malacañang

The President denies having any health condition that impedes his ability to serve as Chief Executive
Duterte on health rumors: ‘Want me to die? Pray harder’

In his first public address after a nearly two-week absence from the public eye, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte tackled rumors that he was missing in action because of ill health.

Duterte, speaking to the camera on Monday, April 12, from the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse, denied having any health condition that prevents him from running the country. He also seemed to say his absence was because he had spent some time in his hometown of Davao City.

Kung sabihin mo may sakit ako, may sakit ako. Pero kung sabihin mo may sakit ako ngayon that would be preventing me from exercising the powers of the presidency, wala po,” said Duterte, likely referring to the slew of ailments he has long admitted to having.

(If you say I have ailments, I do. But if you say I have a sickness that would be preventing me from exercising the powers of the presidency, I have none.)

He claimed that rumors about his health are circulated by political enemies who want him dead.

“If you want me to die early, you must pray harder. What you would like to happen is to see me go. You want me to go and you’re praying for that,” said the President.

Did Duterte go anywhere?

Duterte did not clearly say that he was absent in recent days because he was in Davao City and not because he flew abroad, as some had speculated.

“The people must know that I am a resident of Davao City. I never pretended to be a resident of Sampaloc or Sta Ana. My residence is the city of Davao, and if I want to go home there on reasonable basis, I can because that is my home,” said the President.

However, he also said he missed his daughter’s birthday because he was busy attending to government papers. He was likely referring to his youngest, Veronica Duterte, who turned 17 last Saturday, April 10.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier insisted that Duterte did not leave the Malacañang compound that week.

Duterte’s longtime aide, Senator Bong Go, explained the President’s absence from the public eye by saying that it was due to rising COVID-19 infections among Malacañang guards. Some 45 Palace guards were active cases at the time, said Presidential Security Group chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante III.

Roque then said that Duterte’s weekly “talk to the people” address on the week of April 5 was canceled to limit interactions among Palace staff that take place when these speeches are recorded.


[PODCAST] What happens if Duterte gets COVID-19?

[PODCAST] What happens if Duterte gets COVID-19?

Duterte has not been open to purely virtual meetings. All his weekly addresses are recorded with four or five pandemic task force officials present.

The President last tested negative on a COVID-19 swab test on April 8. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.