By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent
DAVAO CITY — Special Assistant to the President Christopher ‘Bong’ Go last August 20 dismissed the claim of communist leader Jose Ma. ‘Joma’ Sison that President Rodrigo Duterte went into a coma.
In a report by The Philippine Star, Go said Sison must have been dreaming.
“The President is in a kama (bed), not in coma,” Go said.
“Sison must have mistaken his name as Coma – exchanging the J in Joma to C to make it coma,” He added.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. the next day also downplayed the claim, saying President Duterte remains healthy and “as strong as horse.”
“Contrary to what Joma Sison said, the President is fine and well. He is participating in the Kadayawan festival in Davao. He will have a public appearance with the League of Cities in Cebu City,” Roque told The Philippine Star.
The claim stems from Sison’s Facebook post on Sunday with a photo of Duterte supposedly taken from a Lex Talionis event last August 18.
“Those who saw him reported that the darkness of his face became aggravated, and that his walk and handshake became more unstable,” Sison posted.
In a statement posted on the National Democratic Front website, Sison said, “People are awaiting the public appearance of Duterte and a medical bulletin from his office.”
Sison claimed that another report circulated that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and key Cabinet men have formed a caretaker committee “to run the government while Duterte is indisposed.”
“The latest report (still to be verified or negated) is that Duterte has gone into coma since the afternoon or evening last August 19,” Sison said.
Sison has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987.
“As usual, Joma Sison does not know what he talks about. How would he know the state of the health of the President when he is in faraway Netherlands?” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
“Normally, the President wears powder. Maybe there was a photo taken of him without powder. I did not see anything extraordinarily different from the color of the President’s face,” Roque added.
Roque also said that there was no need to issue a medical bulletin since President Duterte is not confined in hospital.
“Joma Sison is a spent revolutionary, not a doctor. So, let’s not listen to him as far as medical condition is concerned,” Roque said.
Roque also recalled former justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II, who was present during the Lex Talionis event, telling him that Duterte was “in high spirits.”
“I’d like to tell the critics of the President: stop wishing him ill as far as his health is concerned because every time you wish him ill, he becomes stronger,” Roque noted.
Roque also noted that Duterte would be staying in Davao City for the next two weeks prior to his state visit to Israel.
As per Sison’s claim that the President’s hands were shaking, Roque said, “He was shaking in anger, especially on the issue of corruption.”
Previously, Duterte admitted experiencing migraine and suffering from Buerger’s disease, a sickness caused by smoking.
The President also revealed that he has a spinal problem and an impaired hearing because of a motorcycle accident.
Duterte said last August 21 in a Facebook live video that Sison is the one suffering from illness.
“I’m alive — fairly healthy and I’m having dinner with a beautiful lady from Davao. She’s Vernice, she’s on leave from Harvard. I invited her to discuss some things along the way,” Duterte said in the nearly five-minute video posted by his aide Bong Go.
“I am still okay. (Sison) said I’m comatose? How can you be comatose with a beautiful lady? If I were comatose and I see Vernice, I would really rise. That’s it. You are the one who is comatose. You are the one who is sick,” Duterte added.
Duterte also mocked Sison and wished him long life.
“Joma, ang wish ko sa buhay, maski wala ka nang silbi sa mundong ito, mabubuhay ka pa rin ng mga 1,000 years para ikot ng ikot ka na lang dito sa mundo,” he said.
“I think you are the reincarnation of the guy… it’s biblical… I don’t know if it’s in a book in the Bible. He’s a guy who’s been around walking around the planet Earth. And he’s not dying.”
The Philippine Star cited that Duterte was referring to the Wandering Jew, who legend said was doomed to walk on earth until the end of time because he taunted Christ.
“Duterte claimed that the Netherlands is already complaining about the expenses of Sison.
The rebel leader has been on self-exile in the European country since 1987,” the report reads.
Duterte also vowed to bring Sison to jail if he returns to the Philippines.
“If you think that you are sick, come home and I will bring you to the place — it’s called Bilibid. There, we will provide you with a space: a bed and… plenty to keep you company,” Duterte said.