Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte was “fit and healthy” and had no serious illness, contrary to his statement that he was nearing an initial stage of cancer.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte only repeated what his doctor had told him a “long time ago” when he told the public that his Barrett’s esophagus was “nearing stage-one cancer.”
Roque made his statement even as senators said Duterte should take care of his health following his doctor’s warning on his esophagus, which had been damaged by his past alcohol intake.
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which the flat pink lining of the swallowing tube that connects the mouth to the stomach becomes damaged by acid reflux, which causes the lining to thicken and become red.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the President was past 74, and “it’s not unusual” to have an ailment at his age.
Senator Sonny Angara said he wished the President good health because the country needed him to be in good shape to face the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish him well,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said of Duterte.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa echoed the other senators that Duterte should take care of his health.
Roque told CNN Philippines that the 75-year-old President was “fit and healthy for a person his age.”
“I think people are putting too much meaning in that statement. I think that advice was given to him a long time ago when the President was still drinking,” Roque said.
“He has since stopped drinking and as far as I know, since he became President, he has not resumed drinking.”
Roque claimed the President was “reaping the harvest” of heeding his doctor’s medical advice because he was continuing to enjoy good health.
Duterte had no plans to hide anything about his health and would remain transparent when it came to his health.
“As far as the President’s medical condition is concerned, take note that it comes from his own mouth. So it is not as if he [was] trying to hide anything. He’s very transparent,” Roque said.
Duterte said doctors found a growth during his endoscopy in October 2018.
“If the endoscopy turned out that there was cancer there, then we would see in the President’s physical condition if there already was cancer,” Roque said.
“There would be chemotherapy, for instance, and chemotherapy leads to hair loss and general weakening—a condition you do not see in the President. He is fit and healthy for a person his age.”