President Rodrigo Duterte has no serious illness and continues to be “fit and healthy” despite his age, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
“As of now, he (Duterte) has really no serious condition. And I’d like to say to those who wish the President ill, sorry na lang po kayo (sorry to you) because God has given the President good health,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Roque made the clarification after Duterte, 75, bared on Monday that his doctor had advised him to stop drinking as his Barrett’s esophagus was “nearing Stage 1 cancer.”
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine replaces the tissue lining of the esophagus, according to the definition provided by the Washington-based National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.
People with Barrett’s esophagus, the institute noted, are more likely to develop a rare type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Roque clarified that the doctor’s advice to Duterte was given “a long time ago”, before the former Davao City mayor became president.
“So you are talking of a medical advice that happened many years ago even prior to the presidency. And I think the reason why he precisely stopped drinking was to prevent (it) from developing into Stage 1 cancer. And that is the context of what the President said,” he said.
Duterte is “reaping the harvest” of heeding his doctor’s medical advice because until now, he continues to enjoy good health, Roque said.
“He is fit and healthy for a person his age,” he said. “And that’s why he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he has no vices as president because he wants to be in good and healthy condition.”
Roque said Duterte has no plan to hide anything about his health.
The 75-year-old Chief Executive, he said, remains “very transparent” when it comes to the real status of his health.
“I don’t think the people should worry about lack of transparency because the President himself will say what his condition is,” Roque said. “As far as the President’s medical condition is concerned, take note that it comes from his own mouth. So it is not as if he’s trying to hide anything. He’s very transparent.”
Apart from Barrett’s esophagus, Duterte previously acknowledged that he has Buerger’s disease, a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs.
The President also has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that weakens skeletal muscles responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body.
He is also battling chronic back pains and migraines.
In October 2018, Duterte announced to the public that the supposed “growth” found in his digestive tract tested negative for cancer.
No need to worry
Under Article 7, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, the President is mandated to declare the real condition of his health “in case of serious illness.”
Roque assured that the people would be informed should Duterte learn that he is seriously ill.
“The President is a lawyer. He knows what the Constitution provides, in case he has a serious illness. He would have to divulge his medical condition to the public. And I assure everyone that as officers of the court, the President and I will divulge any serious illness to the public pursuant to the Constitution,” he said.
Asked how healthy Duterte is, Roque said, “He’s healthy as any 75-year-old could be in the Philippines. And that is the reason why he regularly delivers his messages to the people so that they would know and see him and judge for themselves.” (PNA)