SC blocks with finality bid to disclose Duterte health records

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2020 02:08 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court has denied with finality a lawyer’s bid to compel President Rodrigo Duterte to disclose his health records.

In a resolution dated September 8, the high court dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Dino De Leon, saying the same arguments have been “judiciously considered.”

“The Resolution dated May 8, 2020 dismissing the Extremely Urgent Petition for Mandamus is deemed final. No further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case,” the resolution said.

De Leon had argued in his plea for reconsideration that the high court in effect deprived the Filipino people of due process when it dismissed his petition outright. He asked SC to hold oral arguments instead.

He also insisted that the President himself present proof of the “seriousness” of his health condition, citing in his subsequent submissions reports of a medical jet which allegedly landed in Davao City from Singapore and back and the President’s admission that his Barrett’s esophagus may worsen to stage 1 cancer.

De Leon had relied on section 12, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution requiring the President to inform the public of the state of his health in case of “serious” illness and on the people's right to be informed of matters that affect them under section 7 of Article III.

But the Supreme Court stuck to its earlier ruling that De Leon has not established a legal right to demand the disclosure of the President’s medical records. 

“He failed to establish a legal right that was violated by respondents. Specifically, he was unsuccessful in showing that: (1) the reliefs he sought, i.e., to compel the President to (a) disclose his state of health, and (b) subject himself to further confirmatory medical and psychological/psychiatric examinations which shall be publicly disclosed in order to ensure the accuracy of the health records to be released, constitute ministerial duties on the part of respondents; and (2) there is a clear legal right on his part to demand the performance of these ministerial duties,” the high court said.

In its earlier ruling, the SC said the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission show the intention was to give the President the discretion how to disclose the information on his health records, which is not a ministerial duty subject to mandamus.

Two Supreme Court magistrates dissented to the 13-2 ruling.

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa said dismissing the petition outright was "truly perplexing" while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voiced his "discomfort" at the decision of the majority, warning that it could undermine the independence of the court.