Did DU30 visit Guangzhou’s Fuda Cancer Hospital?

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FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FOR the first few days of the year, the Malacañang press and the public lost all contact with President Rodrigo Duterte. They heard some of his pre-taped TV statements, but missed his unrepeatable presence. A front-page story in the Philippine Star, written by Malacañang reporters Edith Regalado and Christina Mendez on January 5, 2017, noted that he was last seen at the December 30 celebration of Rizal Day, and when he visited the victims of an explosion in Hilongos, Leyte. Then he dropped out of sight.

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“Where’s Rody?” asked the Star. “On ‘extended’ private time,” responded presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella and an unnamed “source” said to be close to DU30. Abella, who tries to be as honest and transparent as the next Protestant pastor, could not say with whom the President had spent his New Year holiday. Pressed by incredulous reporters, he finally said, “with family and friends.” But he could not say whether DU30 had spent the New Year in Malacañang or in Davao City.

“I am not entirely sure,” he said, “but I think he spent the latter part of the holidays here in Manila.”

Had the spokesman been asked what the President did during the holidays, he could have legitimately and honestly said he did not know. But since he was only asked where the President spent the holidays, he should have been able to answer that authoritatively, even if he did not join the President on his holiday. It is unforgivable for him to answer that simple question with, “I think–in Davao or in Manila.”

The spokesman and the ‘source’
Where the spokesman needed to be candid, he held back and was seen as doing so. That wasn’t fair to DU30. Then the news story quoted an unnamed “source” trying to elaborate on what Abella tried to say in a few sound bites. He or she tried to reinforce the official line about DU30 having spent an extended private time to get some rest, but it is hard to understand why he or she chose to be anonymous.

“It was really nothing,” the “source” said. “No appointments or anything. He just took time off. He did not travel outside of Davao City. He just stayed home and did not meet anyone. Not any government official or anyone. It was a pure ’me time’ for the President, which he rightly deserves.”

No one will disagree that the President has earned a well-deserved rest from his punishing schedule since July 1. He has stayed up almost every night, holding court at some appointed place, while the rest of the nation slept. Some will even add that the nation has earned a well-deserved rest from his usual profanities. But since there was nothing incriminating, derogatory or even embarrassing in his taking a well-deserved break and allowing the nation to take its own well-deserved break, why should any “source” close to him ask not to be named as the origin of those quotes?

Neither in Davao nor in Manila?
Was it because DU30 wasn’t after all in Manila or in Davao, but somewhere else? Indeed, those who could not locate him in Davao assumed he was in Manila, while those who could not locate him in Manila assumed he was in Davao. The spokesman and the “source” were somehow out of sync when Abella said DU30 perhaps spent the latter part of the holidays in Manila while the “source” said he never left Davao. And while the “source” said DU30 never met anyone—“not any government official or anyone”—Abella said he was “with family and friends.”

It just didn’t add up.

Keeping the President on sight
Under the Constitution, “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.” Although DU30 has admitted suffering from a number of ailments, no one has suggested he is seriously ill. Not even for a moment therefore may he disappear from public view without sufficient justification. Indeed, he might for a moment lose sight of the Republic, but the Republic must never for a moment lose sight of the President.

And yet this is what happened in the past several days. The nation did not know his exact physical condition or where he was. This raises a serious national security question, which DU30 must now address. Because of the conflicting statements from Abella and the unnamed “source,” there is the risk of giving credence to a report, coming from a chain of usually reliable sources, that DU30 did, in fact, leave Davao on board a private executive plane that flew him to China for a meeting with doctors at the world-famous Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), Guangdong Province.

The Fuda Cancer Hospital
I am not prepared to endorse the complete veracity of this report. But it seems to be acquiring a life of its own and growing very fast. I tried checking the story with some people who, I thought, would know the truth, and instead of laughing off my query as absurd and ridiculous, they said they were shocked that I was able to get my hands on the report. This involves a question of the highest national interest, and the President must act quickly and decisively on it. He must confront the issue with courage. If there is any truth to the rumor, he should put it out in the open rather than suppress it.

DU30 should learn from the experience of Marcos. I played a role in that historical episode in the 1980s. Following my resignation from the Marcos Cabinet in 1980, after 10 long years of faithful service, I returned to journalism while keeping my seat at the interim Batasang Pambansa until 1984. My resignation put me in the parliamentary opposition, together with several other assemblymen from Central Visayas, but it did not make me a personal or political enemy of Marcos. Then, as now, I always thought one had no right to make an enemy of anyone, except the devil and the damned.

Still, as a journalist, I came into possession of certain data about Marcos’s kidney transplants. Malacañang did everything to make it appear the President was in perfect health and was performing his duties as before. I knew this wasn’t so, and I felt it my duty to share with the public what I knew, without personal offense to the President. This drew the strongest denial. But the truth could not be suppressed. Today the basic facts on the Marcos transplants—-the first failed, the other successful—-may be viewed online.

Illnesses galore
In DU30’s case, he has tried not to hide his ailments and the medications he is getting. He has admitted suffering from constant severe migraine, Barrett’s esophagus, Buerger’s disease, and using a synthetic opioid called fentanyl, which is mainly coming from China, said to be at least 50 times stronger than heroin and used by cancer patients to treat pain. He says he does not have cancer. But the obvious gaps and inconsistencies in the story about his “seven-day hiatus” in his recent schedule have given rise to speculations about his actual physical condition.

The attempt to hype his “return flight” to Manila from Davao on the front page of last Saturday’s Star tends to add more fuel to the rumor. “Rody ends vacation, flies coach to Manila,” said the front-page headline. To the attentive eye, this only invites more skepticism and suspicion. Since DU30 started travelling after the ASEAN summit in Vientiane last September, he has flown to all the ASEAN countries and to China and Japan in the space of only a few months. But never before have any of his trips been so elaborately described as his local short flight last Thursday to Manila from Davao.

Hyping his ‘low profile’
As reported by the Star, the President and his party took five seats in the rear of the economy section. The paper tried to make a big thing of it, as though it were unimaginable and earth-shaking. Not so at all. PAL owner Lucio Tan used to do the same thing, and there is one famous story about former President Erap Estrada, which qualifies as one of his “Eraptions”—-i.e., funny stories Erap loved to tell at his own expense.

According to the story, Erap boarded a PAL flight for San Francisco, and took a seat at the rear. As soon as the plane was airborne, the flight attendant asked if she could show the President to his first class cabin. Erap said he would like to be with the poor passengers. No amount of persuading could make him change his mind. The attendant had to run to the captain. “It’s all right, I’ll talk to the President,” the captain said. So he spoke to Erap, and immediately he moved to the first class cabin. “How did you do it, sir?” the attendant asked. “Easy,” the captain said. “All I said was, if you go first class, you’ll be the first to arrive at destination, ahead of the others.”

Apparently, the captain on DU30’s flight did not have the skill of Erap’s captain to persuade his most important passenger to move to the Mabuhay section. Besides, DU30’s party wanted to be reported in the media as travelling like ordinary travelers. The only favor they asked, said the report, was that DU30’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Co, presidential security chief Brig. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista and two other security men be allowed to embark and disembark through the plane’s back door.

The main point of the story, however, was to say that this flight marked DU30’s emergence from “his seven-day hiatus after celebrating the New Year with family and friends.” Obviously, DU30’s people seemed to believe that just by travelling economy, they would be able to divert attention from the report that’s already making the rounds, namely that the President had made a secret trip to Guangzhou during the time he was supposed to be holidaying with family and friends in Davao.

That seems entirely wishful. The genie is already out of the bottle. DU30 has to put himself a few steps ahead of the political rumor mill by getting all the facts out about his suspected medical condition and sharing them with the nation and the world to regain the public’s confidence. In this, he could imitate the example of the Singaporean leaders. Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 64, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, 74, have had recent successful bouts with cancer, but they submitted themselves to medical treatment openly, without any attempt to fudge or hide their medical condition from the people of Singapore.

Despite DU30’s oft-spoken fear of not living long enough to finish his term, I sincerely wish him well. I pray for him. If there is any possibility that he may be afflicted with cancer and that Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou could provide the possible cure, then I urge him to procure the proper medical care. I have no doubt the entire nation will be praying for his physical recovery and his spiritual conversion.

fstatad@gmail.com

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31 Comments

  1. I think it’s time for the SC to decide on the VP case. BB must be declared the new VP and ready to succeed D30. We don’t want a pretender in MP nor do we want a PNoy clone there. All what we could do is pray that D30 start repenting for his many sins and find solace before he’s called to go home! D30 please ask for a priest to hear your confession. It’s never too late to say sorry to all especially to God!

  2. Santi Kampilan on

    Why is his tummy bloated? Does he have liver cirrhosis?
    We all know the Buerger’s Disease has no cure. For him to collapse last week is a sign his days are numbered.
    I’ve predicted all along that he must be in the End Stage of so many complication that his staff are hiding from the public.

  3. Pure TSISMIS from a purported top columnist. Sayang ka naman. Join na lang the yellows ! Or better why not start off a series on an “Introduction to Christianity” – a more understandable version perhaps of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s, later Pope Benedict XVI’s, book of the same title. Mas pakikinabangan pa ng marami.

  4. Duterte must remain popular or otherwise he will not last long after all the ejk and summary execution…the reports of his sidetrip to China still mere speculation and if he is suffering from Cancer that will be easily get clarified depending on the malignancy…it if the Cancer is malignant and later stage usually it do the patient in less than 6 months..if it just a prostrate cancer and non aggressive a little mistake in his dosage of his fentanyl medication will do him in first. And either way it is good for the Phl and will put a stop to the murders.

  5. Mayroong kredibilidad yan si mr. Tatad. Sira lang. Doon nga sa pinangalingan niyang probinsya hindi na siya pinaniniwalaan.

  6. John Chameleon on

    What’s really wrong with Tatad is that his gossip is being sold through his despicable column with the Manila Times, bringing question to the daily’s integrity and trustworthiness. It’s not Tatad’s mistake if the MT becomes a dupe to his ingenious manipulation in the yellow team work to lead people to cast doubt on Duterte’s physical health. Manila Times will be answerable to the people why it allowed itself to be tricked by the jaundiced hack.

    Tatad as an accomplished wrecker of personalities, now the President as his object, in cooperation with his boss Panot and the malevolent yellowturds are facilitating all they can muster to destroy Duterte who recently ordered the investigation of the corruption of the Yolanda funds ordering the probing team to be composed of good lawyers and accountants so that when the case will be filed soon, the public money robbers will certainly be jailed – a punishment fit for the yellow corrupt officials. C’mon Tatad, beat it! Duterte knows better than you.

  7. Yonkers, New York
    09 January 2016

    I have to be consistent. In several comments to reports and columns in the major newspapers of the Philippines I have suggested that because psychotic and drug addict Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte has cruelly inflicted a REIGN OF TERROR on the Filipino people with his warrantless genocidal extrajudicial mass-murder of those suspected of being involved one way or the other in his specious Drug War, a brutal lawless drive which has netted for him some 6,000 hapless victims so far, he deserves to be DEPOSED one way or the other: via IMPEACHMENT, or PEOPLE POWER, or a COUP D’ETAT–or even via ASSASSINATION as the last full desperate measure of SELF-DEFENSE of the Filipino people.

    Now this column of former Senator FRANCISCO S. TATAD which suggests that President Duterte in fact flew to this Cancer Center in China.

    If in fact he did, and if in fact his CANCER is already at Stage 4, the end-stage, then it will no longer be necessary to depose him in the ways I have suggested. More likely than not, possibly within this year, CANCER WILL DEPOSE HIM–and that will be “GOOD RIDDANCE!”

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  8. What’s wrong with this article? Just asking if Duterte really paid a visit to a cancer hospital. Is there anything wrong with that? Is Duterte not human that he can’t get sick or afflicted with a serious illness? Within this year his true state of health will be slowly but surely be laid bare.

  9. ali alejandro on

    du30 was fuming mad last 2015 when a reporter close to LP reported that he had cancer but the truth was that his former wife was the one with cancer..and then today kit brought this again……parang showbiz na showbiz si tatad..tsimis na tsimis..when leni was missing during the typhoon LP and its cohorts she deserved a personal time when it’s du30 HE MUST HAVE CANCER KAYA WALA SYA.

  10. We know that you are a staunch member of the Catholic fraternity ‘the Opus Dei’ and you are one with your bishops and priest critical of PDU30’s policies. I agree that a simple FOI is enough. Inquiring on the exact place and time where PDU30 spent his ‘extended private time’ and whose he with is none of your journalistic business otherwise you just another annoying British ‘paparazis’.

  11. Did the AFP Chief of Staff ever lose access? He was never asked so the national security concern is a figment of imagination.

  12. I sincerely & totally lost respect. Hiding from the God faithful stand to hide the malicious intent of this write up. I can believe he will waste a days page based on non verified fact with such headline. People who rights in the name of God are such reciprocates. Wish him well my ass.

    • Marshall Laway on

      Kit Tatad is just exposing what should be made public. And please check you grammar and spelling, Mr Cyrus rear hole.

  13. Let him go to his BFF country USA to seek Cancer treatment…he can have more medically advance treatment than China…..He might end up same as Hugo Chavez from Venezuela seeking cancer treatment in Cuba because it was his BFF but the treatment he received is sub standard compared to USA hospitals specialized in cancer treatment.

  14. why don’t you dig deeper on #LENILEAKS instead of making some issue about the presidents condition? he deserves a rest.

  15. Sa takot ni tatad sa mga komunista kung ano ano balita na walang sapat na ebidensiya ang kinakalkal. bago ka sana maglabas ng ganyang komentaryo, isa ka pa naman magaling na manunulat siguraduhin mo muna ang iyong source dahil imbes na makatulong ka nakakagulo ka lang. yun nga lang artikulo mo sa OPG hindi mo pa maperpekto yan pa kaya, yung pangalan ng sinasabi mong finance officer na si delfin cabrera, dale cabrera yun na tubong bani, pangasinan sa sa iyong impormasyon.

  16. At 71, to have worked for 6 months at a grueling pace, one certainly needs a break. You should know that , at your age. Please correct a misinformation you keep repeating. The president uses a fentanyl patch which is a controlled legitimate medication in the US. The brand name is DURAGESIC Patch. The president has explained that he uses one fourth of the patch which he wears for three days. A full dose is dose is the entire patch. This is an extended release medication., so he absorbs only an extremely low dose of fentanyl over a period of 3 days. Common Mr. Tatad , please be straightforward with your stories. Insinuations do not become you, being a highly placed church leader.

    • cynthia estrada on

      Walang bakasyon ang presidente. Dapat alam niya yon. At kung hindi niya alam yon, di hindi dapat siya tumakbo bilang presidente.

  17. Now I understand why then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte was furious when a news leaked out purportedly coming from the camp of a rival candidate that Mayor Duterte has cancer. He was so mad that he reserved all his venom to his rival from Quezon City and Capiz.

  18. A simple FOI request will satisfy your curiosity Mr Tatad. Next time,try uut the new FOI, you might like it.

    • FOI is only good for information that is not ‘secret’..and there are volumes of infos clasified as secret under this murderous regime

  19. Pray? or wish something else, tatad!

    Malicious intent – digging for tidbits to try to undermine an effective president – for a part of a grand evil scheme?

    If one goes away a hero to many, won’t be too bad. And if does happen, perhaps the seed of good deed will grow. Certainly we the lowly majority will try to nurture this “seed”.