Malacañang on Tuesday gave assurances that President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health amid calls for him to disclose his medical records following his own admission that he is suffering from several ailments.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Duterte is “in the pink of health.”
“The President’s health is very transparent. People ask should we have a medical bulletin? But based on results, the President seems to be in the pink of his health, you know, considering his schedules,” Abella told reporters.
“You’ve been with him in some of his trips. I mean those office hours that, those working hours that he has are amazing. He goes beyond the mere eight hours, he goes to 14, he goes to 16 hours and still keeps going,” he added.
Abella stressed that Duterte, who admitted having Buerger’s disease and enduring migraine attacks and back pains, has stopped taking fentanyl, a strong synthetic opioid analgesic often used to relieve pain during cancer treatments.
“Don’t take him seriously in the sense that he doesn’t always feel in the pink of health. He’s 72 years old, give him a break. But considering the fact that he just keeps going, he’s got an Energizer bunny somewhere in there,” he added.
Pressed if a medical bulletin is necessary to ensure that the President is telling the truth about his health, Abella said, “What’s the point? What do you trust, the paper or his actions? You know, you see him, he’s all over the place.”
“He’s very, very transparent about what he takes, what he has stopped and when he does it. So in a sense, this is where we have the benefit of an extremely transparent President and so, he keeps us updated. But based on results, he seem to be going very very well,” he added.
Duterte had previously admitted that he had Barrett’s esophagus and was suffering from Buerger’s disease, a constriction of the blood vessels caused by nicotine accumulation.
He said he also had a slipped disc due to a motorcycle accident a decade ago, and was also diagnosed with acute bronchitis during the campaign period.
“I have no cancer. I have four illnesses, but they are not fatal,” the President said then.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told The Manila Times that the health conditions the President mentioned “are bothersome but not life threatening.”
A cardiologist, Dr. Willy Ong, said Duterte’s health issues are not that serious, but can cause extreme discomfort.
“Like what the President said, those are not cancerous,” Ong said in a video he sent to The Manila Times, which contains his explanation about Duterte’s conditions.
“Sa tamang pag-aalaga ng katawan, healthy foods, rehabilitation, I’m sure matatapos naman nya ang six years na term nya [With proper care, healthy foods, rehabilitation) I’m sure he will be able to finish his six-year term],” he added.
Asked whether medical bulletins on the President’s health should be released, Ong, who studied History of Medicine at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “I think it is up to the President if he wants to release his medical records. Personally, I am not asking him to release his records.”
CATHERINE S. VALENTE