Aug 142013
(UPDATED 10:40 a.m.) – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday cancelled what would have been his first trip to Ilocos Sur since he assumed office in 2010 because of an allergy attack, a Palace official said.

“The President has an allergy attack,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told GMA News Online in a text message on Wednesday.

Aquino was supposed to go to Cervantes in Ilocos Sur for the inauguration of the Aluling Bridge, which was included in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22.

The bridge took almost 36 years to build. Work on the bridge started in 1978 but was completed only now.

However, Valte said the President was suffering from an allergy attack after coming into contact with flowers.

“He reacts to them when there are too many at close proximity,” she said.

She said he probably got the allergy during the Philippine National Police event last Tuesday.

“I think he was actually stifling sneezes during the speech,” she said.

“We’ve noticed that it happens pag napapaligiran ng maraming bulaklak at malapitan.  It also happened during his visit to Australia,” she added.

Meanwhile, a report of  radio dzBB’s Benjie Liwanag Jr. said Aquino may be represented by his sister Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee at the event.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson is also expected at Thursday’s inauguration.

President’s health

Earlier, public concern about Aquino’s health spiked after his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22 was interrupted by at least five coughing episodes.

Asked when Aquino, a habitual smoker, had his last medical check-up, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he does not know, but assured the public that his boss was in good health and that the coughs were not a sign of illness.

“He’s not sick… [it’s just that] the speech was one hour and 42 minutes long,” Lacierda, a lawyer, said via text to GMA News Online.

However, doctors who heard his speech offered PNoy this urgent advice: Undergo a full executive medical checkup.

“We are deeply concerned about the chronic coughing of our beloved President,” said Dr. Leo Olarte, president of the Philippine Medical Association. “We urge him to immediately consult his physician so that the country can all be assured that our president is in good condition to perform his job as mandated by our people.”

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.” – with a report from Amanda Fernandez, VVP, GMA News

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