Rody’s health, Leni’s readiness
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - November 4, 2019 - 12:00am

There has lately been so much talk about the state of health of President Duterte. All these talk about the president's health have been fueled by real events that, unfortunately, I am not qualified to discuss, and even more unfortunately, the people around Duterte are not willing to seriously take before the public either.

Now, the health of the president of a country being of great concern to the citizens of that country, this failure by both pundits like me and those who ought to know better to discuss the matter properly has given rise to speculation, which is real quick to fill in any vacuum of information. This in turn makes for a very unhealthy national situation.

For political gain, for example, the political opposition is in the forefront of bringing to the fore of national discourse any twitch in the eye, any near stumble, any grimace of pain by the president that gets captured by video or photographic evidence. Speculation is so politically compelling and delicious everybody forgets that only medical professionals can truly say what ails the president, if at all.

Another thing that is conveniently forgotten, especially by those who wish the president ill for political reasons, is the fact that there can really be no sensible talk about any compelling presidential health condition that does not take into account the role of succession in such a situation. In other words, there can be no talk of President Duterte's health without also considering Vice President Leni Robredo's capability to take over and lead.

Robredo is a lawyer. She has served in Congress as a representative of Camarines Sur for a single term of three years. She has been the wife of a mayor and Cabinet member for much of her married life, although that got cut short by a tragic accident that took her husband away. And she has been vice president for the more than three years that Duterte has already been president.

It is pretty certain that there would be those who will say that such experiences are more than enough to qualify her to take over the presidency in case something happens to Duterte and he cannot finish his term. Under such standards, maybe she can. A mother and son pair actually became president with far less qualifications than she has.

But is the Philippines willing to repeat the vicious cycle of being thrust under another incompetent leader whose only claim to a country's top leadership position are standards way below those required for far less sensitive positions in either government or corporate institutions? Any self-respecting country probably won't.

Robredo is in a particularly difficult position as potential successor to Duterte. As successor to either of the two Aquino presidents, it probably would have been a walk in the park for someone with the qualifications of Robredo. But Duterte? Duterte may be far from finishing what he has set out to do. But he has done so much already. There is no turning back from where we are now. And Robredo is just not the finisher this country needs.

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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