No serious illness: Palace says won't release medical bulletin on President’s health

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2019 01:35 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a groufie with Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio prior to the start of enthronement ceremonies of Japan's Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, October 22, 2019. Simeon Celi, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - Malacañang dismissed Friday releasing a medical bulletin on President Rodrigo Duterte’s health, after the chief executive cut short his trip to Japan for “unbearable” back pain which turned out to be muscle spasms.

The President’s condition does not warrant an issuance of a health dispatch since the country’s charter only requires such in case a serious ailment befalls the chief executive, Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“Hindi na kailangan 'yun [medical bulletin] (It’s not necessary). A medical bulletin comes into play only when the President is in serious illness, that is the constitutional requirement,” Panelo told reporters.

The 1987 Constitution states that the public should be informed of the President’s state of health in case of “serious illness.”

Duterte’s health condition was put under scrutiny after he complained of “unbearable” pain in his spine that prompted him to cut short his visit to Japan last Tuesday.

After a doctor’s appointment, the Palace said doctors ruled out any surgical procedure and simply advised the President to rest and take pain relievers. 

Doctors, according to Panelo, also suggested that Duterte’s motorcycle mishap last week may have “aggravated” his back pains. 

But despite being told to rest, Duterte rode an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) at the Malacañang compound for around 10 minutes just past midnight on Friday. 

“Hindi naman sesemplang 'yun. Sinubukan niya lang,” Panelo said, noting that it was only some sort of “exercise” for the President.

(He wouldn’t fall off it. He only tried it.)

As of Friday, Panelo said Duterte is already resting in his hometown Davao City and would return to Manila on Monday for work. 

Duterte, 74, the oldest elected Philippine President, had earlier suffered from a slipped disc due to a motorcycle accident. He complained of spinal pain back in 2017. 

Earlier this month, he revealed he has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. 

The illness causes "weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs," according to the US National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. 

The President also has Buerger's disease, a cause of blockages in the blood vessels associated with smoking during his youth.