The President’s health – Manila Standard

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The President’s health is always a matter of concern for the people. Speculation is rife, again, that President Rodrigo Duterte might be sick after he has missed two recent events—the Asean Summit of Leaders and the June 12 flag-raising ceremony at Rizal Park.

“The President is just tired,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said as he dashed all speculation Mr. Duterte is not well. The President is touchy about questions regarding his health. Early in his presidency, during a press conference in Davao, Duterte insulted a reporter who dared asked if he had a medical certificate attesting to his good health.

“Why are you asking me this like I’m a common criminal? Suppose I ask you whether your wife smells or not?” Duterte lashed back at the hapless reporter who just ignored the presidential outburst. (For reasons of good taste and political correctness, this column toned down Mr. Duterte’s exact remark.)

Like many, we hope for the President’s well-being. But the reality is that Duterte, at 72, is at an age when vital organs begin to deteriorate. This is why the poll protest of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo must be settled soon. This is to preclude a bitter battle as to who would succeed Digong in the event he dies in office or is incapacitated. The vice president, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez—in this order—are the successors to the presidency, according to the Constitution.

Two presidents, Manuel Roxas and Ramon Magsaysay, died in office. Roxas, the grandfather of defeated presidential candidate Mar Roxas, died of a heart attack in 1948. Elpidio Quirino succeeded him as president. Magsaysay, on the other hand, was killed in a plane crash in 1957 and was succeeded by Carlos P. Garcia.

Speaking of Speaker Alvarez, the man is trying to be more outrageous than President Duterte. Bebot Alvarez’s latest proposal is to abolish the Court of Appeals. This came after another outlandish remark that he would rip to pieces a Supreme Court order for Congress to hold a joint session to take up the basis for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

2019 senatorial elections

Several Senate seats will be vacant come 2019. At the 365 Club at the Holiday Inn Makati, the talk among the regulars turned to whose Senate term would be be over and who are going to seek reelection. Over the strong brew that is customary in the morning, we tried coming up with names of the senators who can and will seek reelection and those who will “graduate,” having served the three-term limit.

Call it senior moments but the fact we that we had a hard time coming up with the senators’ names prove that some of them have not done outstanding legislative work. Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay and Tito Sotto are among those whose work in the Senate can be considered forgettable. Sotto will be remembered for his irrelevant and insensitive remark during the Commission on Appointments confirmation hearing of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who is a single mother of three.

How Nancy Binay spent four years in the Senate with hardly any significant piece of legislation is a wonder in itself. Cynthia Villar gets in the news occasionally with a photo release of her livelihood projects or a ribbon-cutting during the opening of social events.

Two senators—Richard Gordon and Panfilo Lacson—are the ones to watch in the next presidential race in 2022. Both Gordon and Lacson were at the forefront of Senate investigations on the Davao death squad and the casino bribery case involving key immigration officials.

Who will give in in the presidential race and who will settle for the vice presidency between Gordon and Lacson is already the subject of speculation this early.  

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