Duterte says tests for cancer negative

The public has been clamouring for information about President Rodrigo Duterte's health after the 73-year-old missed two official events last week.
The public has been clamouring for information about President Rodrigo Duterte's health after the 73-year-old missed two official events last week.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that recent cancer tests he took came back negative, days after sparking speculation when he revealed that doctors were checking him for the disease.

Mr Duterte, 73, has regularly prompted theorising about his health by skipping events or discussing his ailments in public.

"It's negative. They (doctors) had a suspicion, so they had this specimen taken out from both the oesophageal tube and here," he said, pointing to his bottom.

"They just wanted a retake. Nothing serious actually," he told reporters.

The most recent speculation started after he said in a speech last Thursday that he was undergoing tests on his doctor's orders, adding "if it's cancer, it's cancer".

Questions about his health began to swirl after he missed an Oct 3 Cabinet meeting and another public event.

The government initially denied the leader was undergoing any testing.

But in a speech last Thursday, Mr Duterte said he underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy about three weeks ago and that he was advised last week to do additional tests.

Opposition politicians demanded public disclosure, citing a provision in the Constitution that says the public should be informed of the state of the president's health in case of serious illness.

Mr Duterte has said previously that he suffers from daily migraines and ailments, including Buerger's disease, which affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Duterte says tests for cancer negative'. Print Edition | Subscribe