Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer 10 December 2016


It is not funny anymore. Joking about the President’s 180-degree mind changes and their increasing frequency is starting to ring hollow. It is precisely their increasing frequency, coupled with the rumors of his physical incapacities—falling asleep during meetings with international counterparts, fainting spells, inability to perform scheduled duties—that signals something terribly wrong.

It has not escaped me either that rumors of these physical ailments come to light only when the President is abroad. This does not mean he is weaker out of the country; rather, it seems to indicate that his weaknesses are better hidden when he is here. These—his weaknesses and the ability to cover them up in the Philippines—do not augur well for us.

At any rate, the President’s mental and physical health is certainly cause for grave concern for the Filipino people. Who are his doctors? What do they say about it? And this is not an invasion of his privacy, either. The President’s health is everybody’s business.

There was a time when the deans of the UP College of Medicine and directors of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) were the medical advisers of presidents. That practice should be reinstated. Of course, that was also the time when the PGH was the premier hospital in the country. But it still is a great hospital, and undoubtedly the best of the state hospitals. The President will be in excellent hands, and equally importantly, the Filipino people can expect an accurate and transparent evaluation of the state of his health.

At the age of 71 going on 72 (date of birth: March 28, 1945), he is the oldest Philippine president. And he has surpassed the average life expectancy of Filipino males (69). But then, so have many people, including my husband (80) and myself (76). On the other hand, we are not president. So let’s make sure that the President gets the best medical care ever. I, for one, don’t want him to die. I want him to succeed, for the poor. He has admitted to having Buerger’s Disease (caused mainly by smoking), but that is not fatal.

But what about his mental health? That’s a different matter altogether. The latest data on his mental health are circa 1998, when a psychological evaluation of the spouses was required in the annulment proceeding brought by Elizabeth Zimmerman against Rodrigo Duterte. Dr. Natividad Dayan, who is a former president of the International Council of Psychologists, did the evaluation. I don’t have a copy of her report to the Court, but it has been quoted extensively in the press, as follows.

Dr. Dayan found that Mr. Duterte was suffering from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” a condition characterized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors,” and “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings.”

She found him to be a “highly impulsive individual who has difficulty controlling his urges and emotions.” And she described him as having a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings,” and was “unable to reflect on the consequences of his actions.”

There’s more. He was found to readily engage in “unhealthy and destructive behaviors” and had “poor capacity for objective judgment,” failing to “see things in the light of facts.”

Read the past three paragraphs again, Reader, and apply them to his behavior as President, including the recent cases involving the Vice President and the murder of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa. You will surely have an “Aha!” moment, as I did.

Now we understand why Malacañang is always scrambling to explain that he didn’t really say, or mean, what we had all heard him say, or mean.

This is a national problem, not only Mr. Duterte’s. It is said that recognizing the problem is halfway toward its solution. The other half has to involve our best doctors (a presidential medical advisers panel?), Cabinet members, and all Filipinos of goodwill.