SONA 2021

Duterte in good health despite unsteady walk, breathlessness at SONA – Roque

Pia Ranada
Duterte in good health despite unsteady walk, breathlessness at SONA – Roque

LAST CHANCE. President Rodrigo Duterte arrives by chopper at the Batasang Pambansa to deliver his last SONA on July 26, 2021.

RTVM screenshot

Malacañang says President Rodrigo Duterte's unstable walk was because of the 'slippery' red carpet at Batasang Pambansa

Malacañang insisted that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not suffering from any major ailment after his wobbly walk and breathlessness during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) raised eyebrows.

“Wala pong problema sa kalusugan ng ating Presidente (There’s nothing wrong with our President’s health),” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday, July 27, during a press briefing.

“Medyo nadulas lang po siya kasi kung titingnan ‘nyo ‘yung tape, lumingon din siya. Madulas po talaga ‘yung carpet do’n sa Kongreso,” added Roque.

(He just slipped because if you look at the tape, he also leaned forward. The carpet at Congress is slippery.)

Yet in an interview with DZBB, Duterte said he slipped while entering Batasang Pambansa’s Session Hall because someone had stepped on his feet.

The President also denied rumors that he went to the hospital on the day of his SONA. He gave assurances the public has no reason to worry about his health.

Roque, meanwhile, said Duterte even had strength after the SONA to socialize with lawmakers and other officials, calling several of them into the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office’s room at Batasan to talk.

Duterte also said he and Senator Bong Go headed to a restaurant after the SONA.

More than one instance

There were other moments during the SONA that Duterte’s walk appeared unstable. Stepping down from his helicopter, he stumbled and had to be caught by two aides. After his speech, he also appeared to lose his footing after taking a bow, causing two aides to rush to him.

Duterte even admitted to losing his breath during his speech, which stretched to two hours and 46 minutes, his longest ever.

The President said, in a lighthearted tone: “Hiningal ako. Baka dito pa ako mamatay pagkapresidente. Iba na ang pitik ng kasing-kasing ko. Kasing-kasing is puso.”

(I am breathless. God forbid I die here as a president. There’s something different with my heartbeat.)

Throughout Duterte’s presidency, Malacañang has refused to issue medical bulletins about the state of his health, insisting it is not yet in the serious condition that would trigger the Constitution’s provision about mandatory public disclosure.

The 76-year-old Duterte has admitted having a slew of ailments and taking tests for a growth that supposedly turned out to be benign. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.