State of health of the nation and the leader
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2019 - 12:00am

All Filipinos, rich or poor, want to stay healthy, physically or mentally. Health is one of their main concerns. For this reason, one of the major concerns of the Government is also the health of all the people in this country. In fact, a Cabinet department of the government has been created for this purpose – the Department of Health (DOH). This is the department primarily in charge of ensuring that the people of the Philippines are hale and hearty. It is also the department tasks with curing the sick and healing people who have been injured especially those who have no means or cannot afford the cost of staying healthy. Hence, Congress has recently enacted the Universal Health Care Law.

But every Filipino is concerned not only about their health and the health of their relatives and friends. They are also concerned about the health of the persons running the affairs of the government because they want to ensure stability and continuity. Foremost among them of course the President of the Philippines, who is the Head of State and the Chief Executive. Hence our Constitution even provides that he should inform the people, through Congress, if he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office (Section 11, Article VII).

At this time, it appears that most Filipinos are interested in the health of the Chief of Executive of this country.  And this is because there are already several incidents when he suddenly disappears or skips the affairs he is supposed to attend. The latest is the affair in China which hosted the Belt and Road Forum where all the other leaders of the other countries were present. Malacanang said that Duterte did not appear because of “migraine” Most Filipinos do not know this sickness. Dictionary describes it as a “headache on one side of the head accompanied by nausea” which means vomiting because of sickness in the stomach.

Ordinary people really cannot fathom this kind of sickness. But it is quite obvious that something is wrong with the physical health of Duterte . Whether or not it is serious, the fact remains that such sickness disabled him to attend a very important international event. Such incident has indeed aroused the concern of most Filipinos about his health leading them to entertain the thought that he is already “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Previously, it has also been reported that he is taking “fentanyl” which has reportedly the same effects as some prohibited drugs

Since the Presidency is a public office, and “Public Office is a Public Trust”, (Section 1, Article 11, Constitution), Duterte should more transparent about his state of health.  He should submit himself to a medical examination conducted by a reputable and independent medical doctor or medical institution to determine what he is really suffering from and whether he is still fit to discharge the functions of his office. For more transparency, medical bulletins should be released regularly about his health condition. A statement from his spokesman, who is a lawyer and not a doctor, will not suffice for this purpose. He may even subsequently explain his statement again  as another big “joke.”

Lack of transparency is really one of the defects of this administration. And this is especially true in some of the multi- billion pesos deals with China, the latest of which is the $12.6 Billion investments and trade deals. In the interest of transparency and public service as a public trust, the government should disclose the details terms and conditions of these deals. Right now people are already talking that these transactions are one-sided in favor of China like the previous ones that our country entered into. Based on the agreements signed and sealed, it is claimed that China may end up up as owners of some islands and territories of the Philippines. All these ugly talks could have been avoided if this government has divulged the details of the agreements especially the terms and conditions thereof.

It is therefore about time for this government to be more open and transparent. It has been repeatedly and proudly announcing that one of its main platforms is to fight and get rid of corruption in government. To convince people about its sincerity in this fight, it must not hide anything about the agreements and transactions it has entered into with private parties and with governments of other countries. This is the only way to convince people on its sincerity in this fight against corruption.

Under the present situation therefore, this government should be more transparent especially regarding the President’s health and about the details of the agreements it has entered into both here and abroad. This is the only way it can render real public service and be acoountable to the people.

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