Duterte Upbeat, Strong, Not Confined in Hospital, Spokesman Says

Andreo Calonzo and Clarissa Batino
Duterte Upbeat, Strong, Not Confined in Hospital, Spokesman Says

(Bloomberg) -- President Rodrigo Duterte is in his residence at the presidential palace in Manila and is upbeat and strong his spokesman said Monday, denying that the Philippine leader fell ill and was hospitalized.

“Let me assure the nation that if there’s anything wrong with the president’s health serious enough to be our concern, he will tell us,” said spokesman Salvador Panelo, a day after local media reports citing social media posts that Duterte was in a hospital in Metro Manila since Friday. On Sunday, the spokesman said the 74-year-old leader was signing papers in his residence.

The spokesman won’t say whether Duterte was hospitalized at the weekend, telling people to “draw your own conclusions.” Panelo quoted Duterte Sunday, saying “he’s neither confirming nor denying that he went to the hospital.”

Duterte’s former aide Bong Go shared a photo of the leader sitting at a table and holding Sunday’s copy of The Philippine Star newspaper. Sara Duterte, mayor of Davao City, said she hadn’t received any report that her father was ill, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported May 19.

The president has been out of the public eye since the May 13 elections and he doesn’t have a public appearance on Monday.

The president has long complained of suffering from Barrett’s esophagus -- an inflammation of the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach -- and said in October last year that he took tests to rule out a serious illness such as cancer. Duterte had previously acknowledged having daily migraine headaches, spinal issues as well as an illness affecting the blood vessels called Buerger’s disease which is caused by smoking.

Read previous story about Duterte’s health

The president is required under the country’s constitution to disclose any serious illness to the public, and will be replaced by the vice president if he decides to step down.

The incumbent vice president, Leni Robredo, is the leader of the opposition Liberal Party. She is facing an electoral protest over the results of the 2016 polls from former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the former dictator. Duterte, whose six-year term is scheduled to end in 2022, had said that he thinks Robredo is too “weak” to handle the presidency.

Mid-term elections earlier this month showed that candidates backed by Duterte will dominate the Senate in the last three years of his term. Duterte triumphed despite global criticism for an anti-drug campaign that has killed thousands and for his government’s increasing pursuit of its critics, including independent journalist Maria Ressa.

(Updates with presidential spokesman’s Monday comments.)

--With assistance from Ditas Lopez.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andreo Calonzo in Manila at acalonzo1@bloomberg.net;Clarissa Batino in Manila at cbatino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, John McCluskey, Colin Keatinge

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