Duterte confined to hospital? Not true, says spokesman

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte showing the ink on his finger after casting his vote during the mid-term elections last week. His spokesman denied a media report that Mr Duterte had been in hospital since Friday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte showing the ink on his finger after casting his vote during the mid-term elections last week. His spokesman denied a media report that Mr Duterte had been in hospital since Friday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is in his residence at the presidential palace in Manila signing papers, his spokesman said, denying that the 74-year-old leader was confined to a hospital.

"I just talked to him. He's neither confirming nor denying that he went to the hospital," spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement yesterday.

ABS-CBN News said in a report citing social media posts that Mr Duterte had been in a hospital in Metro Manila since Friday and that the medical centre was under tight security.

Mr Duterte's former aide Bong Go shared a photo of the leader sitting at a table and holding Sunday's copy of The Philippine Star newspaper.

Ms Sara Duterte, Mayor of Davao City, said she had not received any report that her father was ill, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

The President has long complained of suffering from Barrett's oesophagus - an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach - and said in October last year that he took tests to rule out a serious illness such as cancer.

Mr Duterte had previously acknowledged having daily migraine headaches, spinal issues as well as an illness affecting the blood vessels called Buerger's disease which is caused by smoking.

 

A nationwide survey last December showed that 66 per cent of Filipinos were worried about Mr Duterte's health.

The President is required under the country's Constitution to disclose any serious illness to the public, and will be replaced by the Vice-President if he decides to step down.

The incumbent Vice-President, Ms Leni Robredo, is the leader of the opposition Liberal Party. She is facing an electoral protest over the results of the 2016 polls from former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the son of the former president.

Mr Duterte, whose six-year term is scheduled to end in 2022, had said that he thinks Ms Robredo is too "weak" to handle the presidency.

Mid-term elections earlier this month showed that candidates backed by Mr Duterte will dominate the Senate in the last three years of his term.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Duterte confined to hospital? Not true, says spokesman'. Print Edition | Subscribe