Philippine President Duterte says he has muscle disease that causes eyelid to droop

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's health condition is often the subject of speculation when he isn't seen in public for a while.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's health condition is often the subject of speculation when he isn't seen in public for a while.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he has a neuromuscular disease called myasthenia gravis, which limits his ability to control eye movement.

"It's a nerve malfunction," Mr Duterte, 74, told the Filipino community in Russia on Saturday (Oct 5), in a transcript provided by his office.

"I got it from my grandfather. So I believe it's really genetics."

Myasthenia gravis, caused by a breakdown in the communication between nerves and muscles, causes weakness and muscle fatigue. Drooping of one or both eyelids is common.

Mr Duterte's health condition is often the subject of speculation when he isn't seen in public for a while, and his spokesman Salvador Panelo has repeatedly said it shouldn't be a cause for concern.

In May, Mr Panelo had to deny the leader was hospitalised, while Mr Duterte appeared in a live video on Facebook Inc's platform in February to dispel rumours that he was dead.

Mr Duterte, who took office in June 2016, has long complained of suffering from Barrett's oesophagus - an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach.

He has also acknowledged having daily migraine and spinal issues, in addition to an illness affecting the blood vessels called Buerger's disease caused by smoking.