PRESIDENT Aquino had fits of cough last week. The weather segment of a TV network showed video clips of a foreign leader exercising and PNoy coughing, an unsubtle dig at his state of health.

He's healthy, presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Friday, despite, she admitted, occasional bouts with cold and flu. He's fit to do his job until 2016, Valte said. But she wouldn't give out details, citing "patient-doctor privilege."

On the other hand, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile told Sandiganbayan he is very sick. JPE presented medical certificates from three doctors, with each specialist detailing the senator's ailments. JPE, 90, needs frequent monitoring and checkup, his doctors said, to support the senator's request for bail while facing trial for plunder.

Ill health is used to justify release on bail or detention in a hospital, ploy of rich accused who can pay bond and medical bills.

At times, the excuse is stretched to the limit by doctors who aren't always candid about their patient's health.

Ecleo's 'bomb'

Cebuanos may recall Ruben Ecleo Jr.'s doctor who swore that his patient, then a congressman, was a "ticking time bomb." Did the court and the prosecutors check if the certification was true and the "bomb" ever exploded while Ecleo was on bail and, later, when he went into hiding?

PNoy wants to assure the public he's healthy to justify keeping his post. In contrast, JPE wants to convince the trial court he's in poor health to justify his stay outside the jail.

To each his own intent and claim, using illness or good health for what one is asking for.