FRESH from his mysterious disappearance for five days since Jan. 30 at the time when governments all over the world were engrossed in coping with the threat of the novel coronavirus (nCov), President Duterte surfaced on Feb. 3 as a medical expert and a seer.
In a press conference after his speech at the Philippine Navy change of command ceremony where he was seen wearing an air purifier around his neck, Duterte shared what he knows (more of what he doesn’t know) about the virus that has infected 17, 391 persons in 24 countries as of Feb. 4. More than four hundred have died and the Philippines had the grim distinction of accounting for one death outside China.
At the beginning of the conference, Duterte asked why it was called “novel.” Even if he didn’t know why the rampaging virus is called “novel,” it didn’t prevent him from dispensing his “wisdom” on medical matters.
“Don’t be afraid of a pandemic,” he said. He said in the past there was “Spanish flu, German flu” but there was no Filipino flu.
“Mabuti walang Filipino flu. Tayo ang the most resilient. Palagay ko hindi aabot dito ‘yan. (There’s no Filipino flu. We are the most resilient. I’m sure it won’t get here.”)
He predicted nCov will go the way of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), one form of coronavirus that caused widespread infection in 2003 and led to the death of nearly 800 persons. He said SARS just disappeared because “it has a life span and loses steam because people over time also acquire immunity.”
He also ventured into HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), saying it’s almost gone.
“Kokonti na lang (just a few cases.)”
He said five, 10 years ago, HIV was a dreaded disease to the extent that people had to cut down on “the pleasures of the world” and “almost everybody became a celibate overnight.”
He predicted that HIV “will die a natural death.”
And like HIV, he said nCoV will end. “Ito matatapos din ito,” citing the progress in medical science.
But he admitted it could “become worse in the meantime.”
He assured the Filipino people “that everything is well in the country.”
He also said: “This I can assure you, this government will never hide anything.”
Then Mr. President, can you tell us where you have been and what did you undergo from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2?