MANILA — Duterte on Thursday floated for the second time the possibility that he could have cancer.
Duterte, at one point in his speech at an event in Tacloban City, paused to ask for a piece of tissue and coughed.
"Iyong pag-ubo ko, progressive. Baka cancer na ang p***** ***," he said, wrapping one hand on his throat.
(My cough is progressive. This s** ** **** might be cancer.)
Symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing. But Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said he had no close contact with the President before testing positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this week.
Duterte, 75, said in August last year that he was told by his doctor he was at risk of developing cancer from Barrett’s esophagus, an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach.
The President is "fit and healthy for a person his age," Roque had said.
"So far, he is okay. As far as I know there is no cancer. And as I have said if there is cancer and if it is a serious illness, he will be reporting it to the people," he said.
Duterte, in various instances, said he also struggles with back pain, migraines and Buerger's disease, which is linked to blockages in the blood vessels associated with smoking during his youth.
In May, the Supreme Court junked a plea to compel the Palace to disclose Duterte's health records.
The petition cited Duterte's “incoherent, unresponsive… unintelligible ramblings” and his “drunken monologue” during his late-night press conferences as signs he may not be fit enough to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.