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Supreme Court junks petition to disclose Duterte health

The Supreme Court en banc on Friday, May 8, junked the petition for mandamus to disclose President Rodrigo Duterte's state of health, sources have confirmed to Rappler.

The voting was 13-2, with Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa dissenting, the sources said.

Supreme Court Spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka later confirmed the denial of the petition.

"I cannot confirm on how the Court voted," Hosaka said.

The petition for mandamus was filed by young lawyer Dino de Leon just last April 13, invoking Section 12, Article VII of the Constitution which says that: "In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health."

A petition for mandamus asks the High Court to compel the government to enforce a duty or an obligation.

De Leon cited Duterte's own claims that he has have several ailments like Buerger's disease and the rare muscle disease myasthenia gravis, as well as his admission that his endoscopy showed a growth. Malacañang later announced that tests came back negative.

De Leon filed freedom of information (FOI) requests with Malacañang but was told the records are not on file. He used that to justify a direct resort to the Supreme Court, having exhausted the remedies.

The en banc's grounds for dismissing the petition were not yet clear as of posting, but sources earlier indicated that the justices were scrutinizing the procedural issues.

In an earlier interview with Rappler, University of the Philippines (UP) constitutional law Professor Dan Gatmaytan said the en banc could choose to resolve the petition if it wants to, notwithstanding procedural issues.

Gatmaytan said that the coronavirus pandemic creates a situation where there is an urgent need to know if the President is healthy.

The constitutional provision on the disclosure of the President's health has never been tested before.

The en banc met Friday for a special session partly because of the retirement ceremony for Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr.

Sources said ABS-CBN's petition to stop the shutdown order against its operations were not put on the agenda because it had yet to be raffled. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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