Duterte bonks Joma claim
By Kristina Maralit and Elmer Navarro Manuel
“Alive” and “fairly healthy.”
President Rodrigo Duterte was proved as such by a Facebook live video posted Monday night to dispel rumors circulated by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison that the Chief Executive was seriously ill and had slipped into a coma.
In another Facebook post over the weekend, Sison, citing unverified reports, said the President was in a coma since Saturday, 19 August, after gracing the national convention of his San Beda Law fraternity Lex Talionis Fraternitas.
Palace officials, however, disproved rumors of the Chief Executive’s failing health.
Duterte, through Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s video on Facebook, was then seen in public – supposedly about to have dinner with Go and a woman he later called “Bernice.”
The President turned the tables on Sison, exclaiming “Ikaw ‘yung comatose. Ikaw ‘yung may sakit (You’re the one in comatose. You are sick).”
Duterte further lashed out at the exiled communist leader by saying “sa totoo lang, nag-complain na rin ang Netherlands kasi labas-pasok ka sa ospital hindi ka naman nagbayad (The truth is, The Netherlands is also complaining because you’re in and out of
hospital and you don’t pay your medical bills).”
This was not the first time the 73-year-old Chief Executive’s health condition was put in question.
In June 2017, reports circulated claiming Duterte was gravely ill after failing to attend the Philippine Independence Day ceremony on 12 June. He was also a no-show in scheduled public engagements.
Joma answers back
As expected, Sison had a ready reply for Duterte’s invectives against him.
In yet another social media post, the National Democratic Front’s main political adviser said the President being seen on video and debunking claims of his failing health is a good sign that he can still stand trial for his alleged crimes before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“If the video showing Duterte hotel-dating a young woman was really recorded on Monday night (Davao time), I am pleased to see that Duterte is still alive and that there is a chance of his living long enough to be held accountable for his crimes against the people and be tried by the people’s court or by the ICC,” Sison said.
“Unlike him, I do not have any death wish for Duterte. In fact, I wish him to live long enough to receive a warrant of arrest, unlike the so many thousands of victims of Oplans Tokhang and Kapayapaan,” he added.
Sison, on self-exile to The Netherlands since 1987, also stressed Duterte appeared “very tired and dispirited.”
“His video appearance somehow confirms the report that on Saturday, 18 August his face was darker than usual and that he was slow and unstable while shaking hands with his Lex Taliones fraternity brods. The video indicates that Duterte suffers from some serious illness, such as the aggravation of his self-admitted Buerger’s disease and/or his kidney problem due to frequent use of pain killers, including fentanyl,” Sison stated.
“The medical status of Duterte, which is of public interest in his case, has to be clarified and cannot be waved away by shallow explanations that he forgets to powder his face or that this has become darker than usual because of beauty tanning,” he added.
Sison also clarified that he never claimed as gospel truth his post about Duterte lapsing into a coma.
“With regard to the report that Duterte was comatose in the afternoon or evening of Sunday, 19 August, I never claimed it to be certainly true but I cautioned the readers of my Facebook Timeline that the report is subject to verification or negation by the public appearance of Duterte and by credible medical bulletin,” he said.
In a mix-up?
Sison may have been thinking of himself but got confused with the letters C and J that’s why he said “coma.”
This was the light statement made by SAP Go in a radio interview earlier in the week following the butting of heads yet again by the communist leader with Duterte over the latter’s physical and mental states.
“Joma might have been dreaming when he said the President was in a coma. He may have changed his name while dreaming. From Joma, he replaced the `J’ with letter ‘C’ that’s why it became ‘coma.’ While he was dreaming, he was seeing himself and not President Duterte,” Go said in jest.
It was on Go’s Facebook page where a Facebook Live video appeared of the President to prove that he is well.
“Our President is very strong. In fact, we were talking past midnight, for about an hour from 1 to 2 a.m. He is in tip-top condition and our conversation was lively. He even gave me a lot of directives regarding work,” Go said. “In fact, he was up and about in that affair in San Beda. He even sang songs in another venue on the same day, so how can you say that he is ill?”
Go added Duterte will have his hands full with engagements for the rest of the week attending events in the Visayas and Cebu. He will also meet with members of the League of Municipal Mayors of the Philippines to reiterate the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
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