Arroyo admits to breast implants, a day after palace's denial
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been forced to admit that she had breast implant surgery in the 1980s, only a day after her spokesman described the notion as 'absurd' amid speculation about her present state of health.
Presidential spokesman Cerge Remonde had previously said his boss was not like some 'sexy actresses' who would resort to implants, before his embarrassing retraction.
The discussion was prompted by an unannounced stay in hospital by Mrs Arroyo on Tuesday after she returned to the Philippines from a trade promotion trip to Japan, the Americas and Hong Kong. Mr Remonde had initially explained the hospital stay by saying Mrs Arroyo had voluntarily quarantined herself in case she had been exposed to swine flu.
But on Thursday, the pro-Arroyo Manila Bulletin newspaper reported that 'the president was scheduled to undergo augmentation mammoplasty at the Asian Hospital' in Muntinlupa City. The next day, Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc claimed she had undergone 'mammoplastic repair of leaking breast implants' and had a cyst in her groin removed.
The speculation brought a sharp rebuke from her aide. 'Absurd,' Mr Remonde fumed, 'Res ipsa loquitur [the thing speaks for itself]. Just look if the president had a breast implant. That's a private matter. It's obvious if women have had breast implants.
'The sexy actresses with boobs, they're the ones who underwent breast implants. We can't say the same thing of the president.'
But hours later, he phoned the top-selling Philippine Daily Inquirer to explain that Mrs Arroyo did indeed have implants, but these had been put in place in the 1980s.
He explained the hospital trip by saying 'an abscess was removed and something was put in its place', although he refused to say what that 'something' was. He insisted that Mrs Arroyo had not received new breast implants.
Mr Remonde then released a signed statement from gynaecologist Maria Teresa Lopez saying biopsy tests had been done on lumps in Mrs Arroyo's breasts and groin before she left overseas on June 17 but these proved benign. 'Additional tests' were done on her return and she was given a clean bill of health.
Deputy presidential spokesman Lorelei Fajardo said discussion of the medical procedures was 'disrespectful, not only of the president, but of women's health issues'. However, United Opposition president Jejomar Binay said the country had the right to know when and why a president went under the knife. 'My concern is whether her medical condition is affecting her judgment and fitness to govern,' said Mr Binay, who is also the mayor of Makati City.
The constitution required full public disclosure 'in case of serious illness of the president'. At the time of her implants, Mrs Arroyo was in her late 30s, teaching economics at the Ateneo de Manila University.