OFWs, geopolitics at heart of Israel trip, not health: Duterte

In Photo: President Duterte

PRESIDENT Duterte denied on Monday that his Israel trip was for a medical purpose following Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary C. Alejano’s claim that it has something to do with the President’s health.

Duterte, who will be visiting Israel next month, said in a chance interview on Monday that he will be meeting the Filipino community there, and will bring with him some retiring military and police officers as some sort of an appreciation gift for their service to the nation.

Malacañang earlier said the trips were meant to boost ties with all the peoples of the Middle East.

In explaining the presence of retiring military and police officers in his delegation, the President said at the Libingan ng mga Bayani following the National Heroes Day commemoration rites, “That is my gift to them for serving the country well.”

The President added that the situation in Israel is “getting hotter,” referring to recent political developments in the region, which host over 1 million Filipino workers.

From Israel, he will go next to Jordan where, he noted, there are 48,000 Filipinos, and something is brewing on the Lebanese front.

“That’s why I am bringing Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to prepare for that eventuality and just in case war breaks out there,” he said.

Cimatu is a retired Filipino general who in 2002 was sent on a special mission by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to oversee plans to evacuate, if necessary, the OFWs in the Middle East as the United States was preparing to invade Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Asked about his health condition following his pronouncements weeks ago that he is tired and Communist Party of the Philippines’ founder Joma Sison’s allegations that he is in coma, Duterte said: “ I am tired of listening to Maria Sison.”

He once again hit back at Sison for making claims about his health.

“Look at how degenerate he is. He has no ideology. He just keeps tabs on the sickness of people,” he said.

Over the weekend, Malacañang dismissed Alejano’s remarks about the Israel trip being health-related. The Palace said the President has no serious illness and that the President has always been forthright about his condition.  “What he is experiencing is typical of people of his age. Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano’s misinformation is certainly in aid of election. We hope the people will judge him accordingly,” Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said in a statement.

According to the Constitution, the public shall be informed about the state of the President’s health in case of serious illness. The Cabinet members 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.

Last July the President was also previously rumored to have been rushed to the hospital, which Malacañang also debunked as a rumor.

The President underwent a regular checkup the night before his third State of the Nation Address and was declared to be in
good health.

While on a flight from South Korea last June, the President admitted that he threw up.

Aside from migraines, the President also admitted to suffering from back problems, Barrett’s esophagus, which is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Buerger’s disease due to heavy smoking in his younger years.




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Bernadette D. Nicolas currently covers Malacanang, Consultative Committee tasked to review 1987 Constitution, Department of Budget and Management and Philippine Competition Commission. She has more than 2 years experience of working with a multiplatform media group before transferring to BusinessMirror in February 2018. She earned her Journalism degree at University of Santo Tomas in 2014.


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