By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
MALACAÑANG ON Monday disputed the claim of exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison that President Rodrigo R. Duterte had been comatose since Sunday, Aug. 19.
“The President is fine and well in Davao [City], participating at the Kadayawan [Festival]. He will have a public appearance tomorrow with the League of Cities in Cebu City. As usual, Joma Sison does not know what he talks about,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing at the Palace on Monday morning, Aug. 20.
He also said: “Well, that’s always wishful thinking on his part. But the President is here to stay. I don’t know if he can say the same thing about himself and about his movement — the longest running insurgency in the world.”
Last Sunday, Mr. Sison posted a photo of Mr. Duterte attending the national conference of his fraternity Lex Talionis on Saturday evening, Aug. 18, in Davao City.
“Those who saw him reported that the darkness of his face had become aggravated from its appearance the other day and that his walk and handshake had become more unstable. The latest report (still to be verified or negated) is that Duterte has gone into coma since the afternoon or evening of today, Sunday, August 19,” Mr. Sison said.
But Mr. Roque said: “He is healthy. I talked to former Secretary Vitaliano (N.) Aguirre II who was in the affair. He was fine. He’s stayed until 12. He was in very high spirits. He enjoyed the company of his brods in Lex Talionis.”
Whether the Palace will make the President’s medical exam results public, Mr. Roque said: “I will ask, but the President already said that he was given a clean bill of health. So, that’s actually making public, the results of his medical tests.”
Sought for comment, ruling party PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III said in a mobile message: “The President is healthy. Why believe in a report (by) someone (who is) hundreds of kilometers away in Europe?”