The President’s Health: A Duty to Disclose

by Prof. Dante B. Gatmaytan


“It is a ministerial duty on the part of the Office of the President to make the status of the President known to the public. What is discretionary is the manner in which it is to be released.”

Professor Dante Gatmaytan discusses his observations and opinion regarding the recent dismissal by the Supreme Court of the case of De Leon v Duterte, where for the first time since 1987, Section 12 of Article VII of the Constitution which provides that “[i]n case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health,” was invoked to compel President Duterte to reveal his state of health. Professor Gatmaytan examines Section 12 of Art. VII and argues that, rather than a discretionary act as stated by the Supreme Court, the Office of the President has a ministerial duty, in case of the President’s serious illness, to disclose his health records. In addition, he states that Section 7 of Art. III is also relevant as this provision recognizes the right of the people to information on matters of public concern and thus the public has a legal right to demand the disclosure of the President’s condition. Professor Gatmaytan also talks about the intent of the framers of the Constitution in relation to Section 12 of Article VII and adds a critique on the ambiguity and vagueness of the term “serious” illness disease as used in the mentioned provision.