Duterte says he’s negative for cancer

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 09 2018 06:55 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2018 08:38 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the oath-taking of new Career Executive Service Officers (CESOs) at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace on September 27, 2018. Rene Lumawag, Malacañang Photo

Duterte admits drinking at night

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is cancer-free. 

Just days after revealing he recently had a medical checkup, the President said findings of his latest endoscopy showed that he was negative for cancer, but he said his colon is “badly eroded” after years of drinking.

“If you mean was I found positive of cancer? No, it’s not the colon. It’s my Barret’s [esophagus]. It’s badly eroded because I was told to stop drinking years ago," Duterte told reporters in a chance interview.

"As of late, bumalik kasi ako (I went back to the habit). I don’t know for one reason or another, I just like to drink, brandy po. Ngayon sa totoo (Now actually), before I sleep, even if I’m alone, nag-three shots ako bago matulog (I have three shots before I sleep),” he added.

“Hindi naman ako (I’m not) cancerous so don’t be afraid to come near me.”

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 the "growth" found in his digestive tract. The President regularly consults a gastroenterologist because he suffers from Barret’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease.​

"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.

Earlier Tuesday, Palace officials said Duterte was healthy, with his closest aide saying the President could finish his term.

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