De Lima 'worried' over Duterte's illness, choice of medication

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2016 05:47 PM

Senator Leila de Lima and President Rodrigo Duterte. File/Composite

MANILA -- Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday expressed worry over the health condition of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly his choice of medication and its side effects.

"I don't know if the Palace can even try to argue that the President's condition isn't serious, when we all know that one or more of his ailments have prevented him from attending to his duties in the past," De Lima said in a statement.

She added that the public should know the health condition of Duterte in case of serious illness, and explained that when the Constitution says "serious illness" it doesn't have to be a terminal one.

"If it (illness) impacts negatively on the President's ability to discharge his duties, it is obviously a matter of national concern, and the public should be kept informed about his state of health," she said.

Duterte during his trip to Cambodia last week said he "may not be around" until the end of his term.

The 71-year-old President also told business leaders that he has Buerger's disease, which causes blockages in the blood vessels and is often associated with smoking.

Duterte has also previously missed some events during meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos in September and last month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, due to migraine attacks and a bad stomach.

De Lima said recent revelations on Duterte's health condition are "even more worrying."

"I am not a physician, but it is my understanding that it is not just the illness itself that we should be worried about, but also the impact or side effects that the medications he is taking may have, especially on his lucidity and ability to make decisions with a clear mind," she said.

The President also said he used to take Fentanyl, a strong synthetic opioid analgesic often used to relieve pain during cancer treatments and major surgeries.

De Lima expressed concerns over the President's use of Fentanyl, saying that "not only can it be addictive" but that she understands that it can also have "deleterious effects on the patient's cognitive abilities."

"What if, God forbid, there is an emergency that requires immediate decisions, and the President is under the influence of such a powerful opioid?" she asked.