CURRENT POLITICAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
17 September 2017
Just yesterday Saturday as reported by GMA News, President Duterte asked Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Chito Gascon if he was a pedophile for being so “fixated” on young boys.
While this statement may eventually be explained away by Palace spokespersons as either a joke or a misstatement, perhaps it’s about time the public should be informed about the current state of health, physical or mental, of the President.
These kinds of utterances, while it may have been normalized by this President starting from the election campaign in 2016, is something that should have never come out from a well-meaning and perhaps, sane, President, especially when he usually makes these remarks in front of the public, though the public, and the media, and the Filipinos in general, be they the detractors or supporters of the President, have gotten used to it.
The 1987 Constitution in sec. 12 of Article VII on the Executive Department provides for such eventuality :
“In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health. `The members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, shall not be denied access to the President during such illness.”
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, the eminent constitutionalist, explained the purpose of this provision in this way:
The purpose of the first sentence is to guarantee the people’s right to know about the state of the President’s health, contrary to secretive practice in totalitarian governments. (The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines : A Commentary, 1996 edition, p. 751)
As always the case in interpreting the words of the Constitution, the immediate question we will confront is – is the provision in question self-executing or someone has to demand for it?
Perhaps it is incumbent now on those who may be reading this post to demand for this information on the state of the President’s health – mental or physical, so that we can determine for ourselves whether he has a serious illness, since, from all indications, he is not well, and it will be good for the country to know what is really the score on his physical and mental capacity to run the country.