Arroyo: No need for bulletins on Duterte’s health

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — President Rodrigo Duterte need not release medical bulletins on his health, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Wednesday.

"For me, I've been President, I don't think he needs to have a peanut gallery telling him what to do," Arroyo told CNN Philippines' The Source in an exclusive interview.

A peanut gallery is an idiom for a group of hecklers.

The 73-year-old Duterte's health has been the subject of public scrutiny, particularly after communist leader Joma Sison claimed he fell into a coma. The President made appearances after that, but some noted he had darker skin. He also visited the hospital on the eve of his 2018 State of the Nation Address.

As a result, his critics have called for transparency regarding the President's health -- possibly through disclosing medical records or a regular medical bulletin.

The constitution provides that Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition, will take over if Duterte is unable to perform his functions. However, she is facing an electoral protest filed by previous vice presidential contender Bongbong Marcos, who has received Duterte's blessing as a successor.

RELATED: Bongbong Marcos won't take Duterte's successor remark seriously

Arroyo herself - a political ally of Duterte - is no stranger to health issues. She was diagnosed with multilevel cervical spondylosis in 2011, and sported a neck brace until 2016. However, some critics also saw the use of a neck brace as suspicious, given how Arroyo was facing charges of graft and plunder at the time.

The former President said she has since been better, but she is still in "a lot [of] and constant" pain. She added that she continues to undergo rehabilitation.

"With God's grace and the help of my daughter, I'm stable. I'm in pain, but I'm stable," she said.