President Rodrigo Duterte didn’t look like he was in the pink of health when he delivered his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26. He was wobbling on his way into the Batasan Pambansa, and admitted at one point in his long speech that he had to catch his breath and that he was feeling something quite not right.
At the tail end of his speech, which lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes, Duterte said he had to catch his breath. Rubbing his chest, the President said: “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.)
When he stepped out of his chopper and into the House of Representatives, he stumbled as he took one flight down and had to be caught and assisted by two aides, as Senator Bong Go looked on.
Duterte turned 76 last March.
All throughout the event, Duterte looked wobbly as he walked. An aide was always so close to the President, ready to clutch his arm whenever Duterte took flights of stairs.
When Duterte talked about the pandemic, he mispronounced the word “during” and joked that maybe it was because he had caught the coronavirus.
“Baka meron na ako. May ambulansiya ba diyan? Mukhang iba na ang…. I cannot pronounce the words. I hope this is not symptomatic…” the President said.
(Maybe I have the virus. Is there an ambulance here? This feels different, I cannot pronounce the words. I hope this is not a symptomatic case.)
Duterte’s health had been a concern to Filipinos, but the Supreme Court junked a petition that sought to compel him to disclose the state of his health.
The Supreme Court voted 13-2 to shield Duterte from this touchy disclosure, saying that the frequent televised speeches of the President “belie petitioner’s insinuation that the President is suffering from serious illnesses.”
Section 12, Article VII, of the Constitution says, “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”
But the Supreme Court said the President has the discretion to “choose the appropriate means of releasing information to the public.”