PRESIDENT Duterte is “fit and healthy” at 75 years old, presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday said as he played down the President’s statement that his Barret’s esophagus ailment was already at stage 1 cancer.
Roque, in several radio and television interviews, said the doctor’s diagnosis on the President’s illness was made years ago before Duterte became president in 2016.
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine replaces the tissue lining of the esophagus.
Roque said the prognosis was the reason why Duterte, when he became president in 2016, was no longer drinking alcohol.
“He is fit and healthy for a person his age,” he said, adding that apart from drinking, the President does not smoke nor does he have other vices “because he wants to be in good and healthy condition.”
Roque said a formal announcement will be made by Malacañang should the President’s condition get worse.
“I’d like to say to those who are wishing for the President to be ill: Sorry to you because God has given the President good health,” Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
Duterte, in his public address recorded Monday night but which aired early Tuesday morning, slipped and admitted that his Barret’s esophagus condition was getting worse and was nearing stage 1 cancer. He said he has been advised by his doctors to refrain from eating fatty food and drinking alcohol.
It was the first time that the President had mentioned the status of his health condition.
Duterte, in several speeches in the past, had said that he has been diagnosed to be suffering from Barrett’s esophagus, hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating, Buerger’s disease or a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs where the blood vessels swell and cause clots to form, myasthenia gravis or chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles and makes his eyes droop, and migraine.
Duterte had once said that he sometimes sleeps with an oxygen tank beside his bed because his brain does not get enough oxygen.
In 2018, the President underwent endoscopy and colonoscopy tests twice on the advice of his doctors. Endoscopy and colonoscopy involves looking into the digestive tract and large intestine of a person.
The President has been staying in Davao City for almost three weeks now. He said last week that he has opted to stay home to avoid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Meanwhile, foreign affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that instead of wishing the President to die, the political opposition should just focus on prepping and fielding Vice President Leni Robredo for the 2022 presidential elections since she was a “good candidate.”
In an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel, Locsin said he could not understand why the political opposition would wish for Duterte to die when the election is just two years away and they could field Robredo as their candidate.
“What is it with the opposition that they are so fearful of facing an election in 2022? They have a good candidate and she conducted a great campaign despite the fact that she was barely supported by the Liberal Party, which by the way might even be involved in her husband’s death,” Locsin said referring to the death in an airplane crash of Robredo’s husband, the late interior secretary Jesse Robredo.
“Why be afraid to field her in 2022? Have faith in your candidate,” he added.
Office of the Vice President spokesman Barry Gutierrez, reacting to Locsin’s statements, said: “On the contrary, we look forward to the election in 2022. It is this administration’s supporters, with their loud, if lonely, calls for a revolutionary government that are clearly terrified of the end this term. Mr. Locsin’s pontifications on the current situation, like his conspiracy theories, are seriously wanting in credibility.”