From the Inquirer Nov. 26, 2006:
“When asked if the portly First Gentleman was obese, Cervantes (the physician of the First Couple) paused first before answering: `We really advised him to trim down a bit.’” I thought obesity was a medical term, a scientific term, and that there was a chart or formula to calculate whether one was simply overweight or already obese, that is, by getting the age, height, bone mass, and weight. Why did the doctor hesitate? Did she pause and ask herself, should I answer this as a doctor or as a diplomatic person? Was she thinking, if I say he was obese, is that imputation of a defect or would that be a conclusion of fact that Mike Arroyo’s lawyers have cautioned everyone not to make, or else they would be hailed to court and arrested in front of their friends?
This doctor chilled and certainly she had been reading about, and watching the news on the 43 journalists who had been sued by the First Gentleman for what he considered were libelous materials. Surely, the First Couple did not have to get their annual physical medical check- up together, unscheduled not previously announced, at that. FG was there to deflect attention from the President, and as a reminder to everyone, maybe including the doctor, that they better be careful how they would characterize the President’s state of health.
And that brings us to the more important matter: the President The news report further went: “Cervantes however said that the doctors would leave it to the President to disclose the results of her physical examination.
“ (quote from Dr. Cervantes):`I have to verify first because our stand is still giving a patient confidentiality.’” She’s wrong of course. Constitutionally, fundamentally wrong.
The patient she was treating was not “a patient”, it was the commander-in-chief, and there is a specific constitutional provision on this, as follows: Art. VII Sec. 12: “In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health. xxx”
The physician said earlier in the article: “`If there is something that the public has to know, then we will report it, if there is anything that will compromise the country. But as of now, we have not gotten anything.’” I guess the legal and medical issue is, when is a condition grave enough for it to be considered as “serious illness” contemplated in the Constitution? Who decides? Apparently, the doctors here would abdicate that duty and leave it to the President to decide whether or not she would reveal the true state of her health. (Does the Hippocratic oath prevail over the constitutional directive? Is that constitutional directive an expansion of the right of access to information on matters of public concern such that it creates a right that is legally demandable? Etc.)
We hope the President is well. If it is just ordinary debility, we hope the President would take time out and get enough rest and sleep. Or, if it is some chronic condition, we hope it is manageable and that changes in her lifestyle and environment would help manage the condition. If it is an infection, we wish her immune system would overcome it. But she should tell the nation. Being sick is not a ground for impeachment. It is not a ground for resignation as long as there is no impairment of reason. (there’s a constitutional provision however that allows a majority of Cabinet members to declare that she is incapacitated, which she however is allowed to disprove, etc.) She can legally rule the country with any kind of condition or ailment as long as she is not physically or mentally incapacitated. That’s the legal. I don’t know about the political, and that is probably what’s causing her to hold back.