President Rodrigo Duterte’s health has long been a subject of much speculation, so it came as no surprise this week when people started wondering whether the president was OK after he appeared at an event in Cavite City on Sunday wearing what appeared to be a bandage on his arm.
In both the photo above and the one below — both released by the Malacañang Palace’s communications team — you can see a white thingamajig around Duterte’s right arm, which at least one reporter at a Malacañang Palace press conference today believed resembled a medical plaster at first glance.
But Duterte’s most loyal defender and spokesman Salvador Panelo pooh-poohed the suggestion, saying it was actually a symbol of — get this — peace.
“Which one, the white one?” Panelo asked, responding to the reporter’s question at the presser. “That’s more symbolical of his wanting peace in the Philippines.”
“No, it’s not a medical plaster,” he insisted.
Duterte is apparently a big fan of the sartorial choices of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, an ex-action star known for wearing wristbands in his movies and in real life.
“It’s like Erap, his wristbands? Doesn’t Erap wear white [wristbands]?” Panelo told the reporter.
Panelo then, for some reason, showed off his own wrist adornment — a red string bracelet — saying, “Me too, look at me. Mine is red.”
He went on to assure the media that Duterte would tell the public if he wasn’t feeling well, despite his government’s constant refusal in the past to issue a medical bulletin on the president’s health, as mandated by law.
“He doesn’t hide anything, right? He tells us everything,” Panelo said. “When I first saw it, [I thought it was] white, a symbol of peace. He wants our country to be peaceful, right?”
Uh, riiiiiight. The guy who repeatedly says “kill them all” in speeches. The same guy who joked about wanting the first crack at nun rape. The very fellow who has publicly claimed to have personally committed murder. The selfsame president who launched a drug war that has killed, conservatively speaking, thousands of people. The dude who threatened to slap the s**t out of the actual coronavirus.
Yeah, big peacenik, that guy. Obviously.
Of course, despite Panelo’s insistence that the president is always forthcoming about his health, past questions as to his condition have been met with slippery responses.
Back in 2018, when asked why his complexion appeared to have visibly darkened, Duterte initially said the discoloration was just sunburn — later changing his story to say it was actually caused by his girlfriend’s face cream, before finally blaming it on “karma.”
In October, shortly after Duterte fell off a motorcycle during a ride around his compound (an incident that some within the palace initially refused to even admit had happened), he was forced to cut short a state trip to Japan due to “unbearable pain.” His advisor later claimed the pain was just caused by a “muscle spasm.” In fact, Duterte was so fine that his allies released photos of him shortly thereafter riding a manly trike — photos which, wouldn’t ya know it, turned out to be fake.
And then, of course, there are the conditions Duterte himself acknowledges having, like the autoimmune disorder myasthenia gravis and Buerger’s disease, which affects the blood vessels in the limbs.
But hey, if he weren’t feeling well, he’d tell us, right Sal? Anyway, how’s that peace coming?
This article, What’s That? Duterte sporting white wristband (not bandage) for ‘peace,’ says spokesman, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!