President Duterte’s recent revelation that he used Fentanyl, a pain killer for cancer patients that is “50 to 100 more times more potent” than morphine, has raised concerns about the state of his mental and physical health.
This is the first time he made this public. During the campaign and in his speeches as president, he has talked about his illnesses, including bouts with migraine and pain caused by “spinal issues” as a result of a motorcycle accident.
All this must have been so unbearable that his doctor prescribed Fentanyl, which is addictive. It is unclear if Duterte continues to use it. All he said was that he has stopped using 2 patches. But he may still be into it, in much lesser dose.
Here’s his quote: “I was only given a fourth of that square thing. There was a time that I took two. But now no more because – of course, my doctor learned that I was using the whole patch because I felt better. When he knew it, he made me stop and he said, ‘Stop it. The first thing that you would lose is your cognitive ability.’”
That is why the Office of the President should release a detailed medical bulletin prepared by Duterte’s doctor to include the drugs he takes and his medical history. This will clear the air and set the record straight.
And whenever the President is sick and misses official events, Malacañang should make it standard practice to issue brief medical bulletins, also prepared by the President’s doctor. In addition, it would be helpful to release the results of his annual physical exam.
After all, one of Duterte’s first acts was to sign an executive order mandating all offices under the executive branch to fully disclose information to the public.
The President’s health is not exempt. The Constitution says: “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”
Let’s look back at the public events he missed because of the state of his health:
- 2 summits in Laos: the ASEAN-US and ASEAN-India summits;
- the photo-op of ASEAN leaders with President Obama, also in Laos;
- the APEC family photo in Peru;
- the APEC economic leaders retreats “where heads of state divide themselves into smaller groups…opportunities for leaders to freely discuss among themselves”;
- the APEC gala dinner hosted by Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski;
- the Go-Negosyo summit in Davao; and
- a campaign speech because he was rushed to the hospital where he stayed overnight because of migraine and chest cold.
We can already hear the President’s rebuff: why should he issue medical bulletins when he’s telling us the truth? During the campaign, this was how he dismissed a call for presidential candidates to come clean with their state of health: “I will not do that as a matter of policy. Ano ako, buang (What am I, a fool)? It’s like you’re forcing me to say I’m not a liar.”
But he has given us various reasons for not appearing in some of these events. In Peru, he said it was jet lag. Then he changed his story and said he had a bum stomach. The most recent version is: he said he did it on purpose to avoid an awkward moment with Obama.
And can we ever forget how he insulted a reporter who asked for his medical certificate? In a speech during his victory rally, Duterte recounted the incident and trashed the male journalist. He said he could have asked about the condition of his wife’s vagina. The President took the question as a personal offense, forgetting that he was already leader of a country, someone subject to intense scrutiny.
Now, there are no more excuses. By this time, he should know that a president’s health is as much a public issue as the national budget. – Rappler.com