President Beningno Aquino III's health secretary said Friday the chief executive is in good health despite the coughing fit that pervaded his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22.
"Ang pagkaalam ko po malusog ang ating mahal na pangulo at siya ay nagkakaroon ng regular check-up," Secretary Enrique Ona said in an interview at "News to Go" on Friday.
He added that the President, though a habitual smoker, knows the importance of maintaining his health.
"Ang mga bagay na ito naiintindihan ng ating pangulo kaya binibigyan ng kanyang atensyon at lahat ng magagawa ay ginagawa ho niya," Ona said.
The Philippine Constitution has a specific provision requiring public disclosure of the state of the president's health, but only if the illness is "serious." The provision does not identify any government agency responsible for its implementation.
Article VII, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution provides: "In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health. The members of the Cabinet in charge of national security and foreign relations and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, shall not be denied access to the President during such illness."
Ona said Aquino's coughing may have been due to dry throat from talking for too long in his SONA.
"Almost 2 hours ang kanyang speech. Ako man eh nagbibigay lamang ng speech for about 20 minutes e talagang natutuyo na ang aking lalamunan kaya pwede din natin masabi na epekto din 'yun ng haba ng kanyang speech," he said.
But Ona also said it is possible that Aquino 's cough may have arisen from the combined effects of allergies and smoking, Ona said.
"Yun nga, alam naman ho natin na ang ating pangulo ay may sort of allergy saka alam din naman natin na sya ay nagsisigarilyo so meron din yun epekto. Alam naman natin na yun ho ay binibigyan natin ng lunas," the health secretary said.
Despite repeated public warnings from doctors, President Aquino has been a smoker for much of his adult life and has continued to smoke while in office.
Aquino, 53, has a family medical history of heart ailment and cancer. His father, Ninoy, had a heart attack at the age of 47 while a political prisoner. Aquino's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, died of colon cancer at 76 in 2009. — ELR, GMA News