MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte is “cancer-free” and can finish his term, his top aide said Tuesday.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go is the latest among high-ranking administration officials to attest to the health of the President, amid rumors that the 73-year-old chief executive could be suffering from a serious ailment.
“Sorry to disappoint his critics, the President is very healthy and in high spirits. I know for a fact that he is cancer-free," Go told reporters.
"He will finish his term and live beyond 2022. Tuloy lang po ang aming trabaho. Salamat po sa inyong concern sa kaniyang kalusugan. I assure you, there is nothing to worry about."
(He will finish his term and live beyond 2022. We will continue our work. Thank you for your concern on his health. I assure you, there is nothing to worry about.)
Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the President told his Cabinet members on Monday that the result of his recent medical test yielded a “negative” result.
“He disclosed to us that the result of the test was negative, the one where they took samples from his intestines," Año told reporters.
Duterte, the oldest to be elected Philippine president in history, suffers from back pains, migraines and Buerger's disease, a cause of blockages in the blood vessels associated with smoking during his youth.
Duterte recently underwent endoscopy to check a "growth" found in his digestive tract. The President regularly consults a gastroenterologist because he suffers from Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Duterte had recently bared that he underwent a medical checkup.
"If it’s cancer, it’s cancer. If it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will no longer prolong my agony in the office," Duterte said in a speech before Philippine Military Academy alumni last week after revealing his visit to the hospital for the test.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the public should be told about the state of health of a sitting president. If the leader dies in office, permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a 6-year single term.
Duterte had earlier bared doubts over the ability of his constitutional successor, opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, to lead the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured the public Tuesday that Duterte would follow the Constitution and disclose the status of his health if he is afflicted with a serious illness. He said Duterte’s medical records should be treated as confidential if the chief executive does not suffer from a life-threatening condition.
Nearly half of Filipinos believe that Duterte is facing health problems, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released Sunday.
Of 1,500 adults polled late last month, 45 percent of adult Filipinos believe that the President has health problems while 26 percent do not. Some 29 percent were undecided about the matter, said SWS.
The same survey revealed that 55 percent of the respondents were worried that Duterte would have health problems, while 44 percent said otherwise.
Duterte's health was a constant source of speculation after he disappeared from public view for a week last year but his aides dismissed rumors about his medical conditions. -with Reuters