66% of Filipinos worried about Duterte's health – survey

MANILA, Philippines – A big majority of Filipinos, 66% to be exact, are worried about President Rodrigo Duterte's health, while almost half believe him to have health problems, according to a new Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The survey, conducted from December 16 to 19 last year, found that the percentage of respondents worried about Duterte's health rose by 11 points, from 55% in September 2018.

The 66% who are worried about the Chief Executive's health is broken down as follows: 22% are worried a great deal and 44% are somewhat worried.

Meanwhile, 34% said they are not worried about the 73-year-old Duterte's health. 

The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,440 adults all over the country. SWS said the margin of error for regional percentages (Metro Manila, Balance of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao) is +/-5%. For the national percentages, the sampling error margin is +/-2.6%.

It's Mindanaoans who are most worried about Duterte's health. In Mindanao, 73% said they are worried, followed by 66% in Metro Manila and the Visayas who are worried. In Balance of Luzon, 63% are worried about the President's state of health.

But the percentage worried over Duterte's health rose in all regions. The increase was most pronounced in Mindanao where there was a 12-point increase from the September figure.

More Filipinos think Duterte has health problems

SWS also found that more Filipinos think the President is dealing with health problems than those who don't think he has any issues. 

In the December survey, 49% believe this compared to the 45% who thought this in September.

But the difference in the two surveys is more pronounced when computing for the net belief score – the difference between the percentage who believe Duterte has health problems and the percentage who don't. 

In December, the net belief score reached +25 (49% believe minus 24% do not believe). This is 6 points higher than the net belief score in September which was +19 (45% believe minus 26% do not believe).

It's people in Metro Manila, the upper class, and urban residents who hold the strongest belief that Duterte has health problems.

Out of all the regions, Metro Manila registered the highest net belief in Duterte's health problems at +31, but this was unchanged from the September figure.

Balance of Luzon came in second place with +28 net belief, followed by the Visayas (+26) and Mindanao (+14). But in these 3 regions, net belief in Duterte's health problems rose.

Among economic classes, class ABC had the highest net belief at +31. This is 12 points higher than the +19 in September.

Net belief among the poorest Filipinos, or those in class E, came in second at +27. Net belief for Class D was at +24. There was an increase in net belief across all economic classes.

News about complications in Duterte's health reached a high point in early October 2018 when he revealed in a public speech that his doctors had run tests to check on a growth they found in his body. (READ: 'Growth' found in Duterte's endoscopy? Doctors explain what it means)

Days after, he claimed the tests showed he did not have cancer

Many had also observed Duterte's grayish pallor  which the President explained was due to his trips to military camps.

Lawmakers and groups have called on Malacañang to be more transparent about Duterte's health, some asking for medical certificates or for doctors to explain the President's condition to the public. (READ: President's health: Touchy topic for Duterte, public concern for Constitution)

The septuagenarian President has also complained of a slew of other ailments, including Barrett's Esophagus and Buerger's Disease.

But the Palace has said there is no need to release such medical information because Duterte supposedly does not have a "serious illness." The 1987 Constitution requires that the public be informed of the President's health "in case of serious illness," but it is vague on the definition of the phrase. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.