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Could it be onset of dementia?

Don’t call the exorcist. Instead, get hold of a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist and a neurologist to make a diagnosis.

President Duterte’s latest blasphemous rants and fulminations against God, the Catholic Church, the “idiots” in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” are behavioral manifestations that could be symptoms of a health problem. I say this as someone with an academic background in one of the behavioral sciences. But it does not take rocket science to notice that there is something odd, strange and peculiar in the way the President has been behaving in public.

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Is Mr. Duterte probably displaying symptoms of the onset of dementia or some form of neurodegenerative or neurocognitive disorder? I say this not to put him up for ridicule, but to remind those in his inner circle to have their boss’ mental state assessed.

Mr. Duterte signed last week the Mental Health Law (Republic Act No. 11036, whose principal author was Sen. Risa Hontiveros) that would benefit those suffering from mental illnesses. It is hoped that, with this law, the stigma associated with mental disorders, dementia among them, would be removed.

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There are presidential protocols and behavior that are expected to be observed. Mr. Duterte can scratch his crotch, pick his nose or grapple with his inner demons all he wants, but only in the privacy of his room and not in public. Same with distasteful remarks, baseless or not, that demean and destroy what many hold sacred.

Former senator Rene Saguisag called the unbecoming presidential behavior “excrescence,” a word that is similar in meaning to execrable.

All that, while the Department of Education is now trying to revive classes in so-called good manners and right conduct (GMRC) in the education system, something we were weaned on as grade schoolers in decades past. As Girl Scouts, we had to live the mottos “Be prepared” and “Do a good turn daily.”

Computer literacy and newer subjects have all but wiped out GMRC, and with a sitting president on live TV peppering his speeches with cuss words and sex jokes that insult religious beliefs, women and mothers, who among the national leaders can the young emulate?

While waiting at a stop light, I was able to take a photo of a motorcycle rider whose helmet had the words, “P…ng ina” (whore mother), a favorite expletive of the President.

Mr. Duterte makes foul utterances in unlikely public occasions and venues. At the National Information and Communications Technology Summit in Davao City last week, he again fulminated on the Bible’s Creation story and used the words stupid and God in the same breath. (I have a book on Creation stories from the world’s different cultures; the Christian Bible’s is only one of them.) What did it have to do with the occasion?

His repetitive, off-the-cuff remarks (he hardly ever reads prepared speeches) have become so predictable that his audience simply gives him complimentary laughter, his curses notwithstanding.

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But not in Iloilo, where he got obligatory applause only at the end of his remarks. While he was blabbering about Adam and Eve and other inconsequential matters not apropos to the occasion, the church bells rang on cue for the Angelus. That startled him. (“Gibagtingan ako?”)

As Ilonggos would exclaim, “Tê man!” (Translates as “good for you.”)

A reminder from the poet John Donne: “…therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

When Mr. Duterte arrived at night from his South Korea visit (where he kissed a Filipino woman lips to lips on stage) and faced the media, he showed strain and pain. Time perhaps for his dose of Fentanyl (which he had admitted to have used/been using)?

Those who call President Duterte the anti-Christ, evil personified, the devil incarnate, possessed, etc. should not recommend an exorcist. They should first call in the mental health practitioners. I doubt if he’d want to go through projective tests administered by clinical psychologists, so what about high-tech MRI and the like for his skull? There could be flashing lights in there.

What are the doctors of the President/Commander in Chief waiting for? There is so much at stake for this woebegone country.

Send feedback to [email protected]

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TAGS: dementia, health, Religion, Rodrigo Duterte
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