DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) — “My state of health is what you see is what you get,” President Rodrigo Duterte told reporters in Butuan City late Saturday afternoon where he visited troops at the 401st Brigade, dismissing speculations he suffered a stroke.
The President had no public appearance from Monday to Friday, skipping what would have been his first ever Philippine Independence Day celebration as President last Monday, June 12.
Rumors flew thick and fast starting Tuesday that the President suffered a stroke, that his right arm was paralyzed and that he had been vomiting.
But Duterte was in his usual combative mode on Saturday, visiting first Cabadbaran City for the 50th foundation day of Agusan del Norte before proceeding to the advance command post in Bancasi.
He rendered snappy salutes and shook hands using his right hand and spoke before a huge crowd in Cabadbaran, addressed his troops in Bancasi and answered media’s queries, including those about his health.
“You want me to explain my absence?” Duterte asked, before answering he was “resting, actually.”
He then proceeded to play along, confusing reporters in Butuan whether or not he was joking about having gone out of town “for a visit somewhere else” in Mindanao that he could not divulge because he went there incognito.
“Confidential but I said I travelled like a private citizen para lang maka-abot doon sa gusto kong puntahan. ‘Yun lang. (That’s all),” Duterte joked.
Before the June 17 visit to Cabadbaran, Duterte’s last public appearance was at the Villamor Air Base on June 11 to pay his respects to the Marines slain in Marawi City. He was back in Villamor late afternoon of June 15, for his flight to Davao City.
Apparently addressing critics who had wished him dead, Duterte narrated an imaginary visit to a funeral parlor at the wake of a friend’s child where he told them to make the funeral arrangements while he asked to be left alone in the morgue, slept and woke up horrified to find he was in a capsule undergoing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), much later realizing it was he who was mistakenly put inside the casket.
“Paggising ko, may salamin sa harap ko tapos naka-ganon si Roxas, tumatawa. Sigaw ako ng sigaw. ‘Yan ang gusto ninyo?” (When I woke up, there was a glass in front of me and there was (Liberal Party Presidential canddiate Mar) Roxas looking down, laughing. I screamed and screamed. Is that what you want?” he asked reporters.
Duterte said he was just resting in bed. “Sa kama man lang ako… Kama. Coma. Kung na-coma ako, hindi ako andito para mam****** i**” (It was just bedrest for me. Kama (bed) not coma. If I were in coma, I would not be here to say f__k you).
The President reiterated that in case something happens to him, there is a Vice President who is the constitutional successor.
“Do not worry. There is the Vice President who will take over. My state of health is immaterial,” Duterte said, stressing the importance of a successor.
There is an “institutional succession,” he said, “you follow it.”
“I am good while I am alive but do not worry about a one day, two days absence. Baka nasanay na kayo kay Marcos noon ‘no, na na-operahan, may sakit lupus tapos he could not appear for so many days. Ano na lang. Sabihin mo nalang doon sa mga kalaban ko na magdasal na lang kayo para ma…” (You’re probably used to Marcos before who was operated on for his lupus and could not appear for so many days. Just tell my enemies to pray so that…), Duterte said but did not complete his sentence. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)