President Duterte’s spokesman has denied a claim by the leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines that the chief executive is in a coma.
Speaking to reporters today (Monday, August 20) Harry Roque countered the claim of Jose Maria Sison that the president had fallen into a coma over the weekend.
Yesterday evening, Sison shared a photo of the president on Facebook, claiming that he had received a report that had become comatose hours after the picture was taken.
He drew attention to the “darkness” of the president’s face during an event on Saturday evening. He also claimed that people attending the college fraternity reunion had noticed that the president’s walk and handshake “had become more unstable”.
Roque today denied the allegations and reiterated that the president was fit and well.
“He’s healthy. He was fine, he was in very high spirits,” he told reporters.
“Joma Sison is a spent revolutionary and not a doctor, let’s not listen to him. I don’t even understand why Joma Sison said he was in a coma. He’s in faraway Netherlands, how would he even know?”
Roque also confirmed that the president would be attending an event in Cebu City on Tuesday, and said this public appearance should be enough to quell the rumours about his health.
“Stop wishing him ill, as far as his health is concerned,” he said. “Because every time you wish him ill, he only gets stronger. The president is as strong as a horse.”
Special Assistant to the president Bong Go also denied the claim, saying he had talked to a “resting” president early this morning.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the coma allegation was “absolutely false”, and that unlike Sison, “the president is in robust health”.
The health of the 73-year-old president has long been a topic of speculation. He claimed to be suffering from migraines in a recent speech, and was also reported to have visited a hospital before his State of the Nation Address last month.
In 2016, he admitted to suffering from frequent migraines, along with spinal and facial pain, due to a motorcycle accident. He also revealed that he was afflicted with Buerger’s disease and Barrett’s oesophagus.
Buerger’s disease afflicts arteries and veins in the arms and legs, causing blood vessels to swell and become prone to blood clots. Barrett’s oesophagus causes tissue changes in the oesophagus and increases the risk of developing cancer.
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