MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte was merely joking when he raised the possibility of having cancer, Malacañang said on Friday.
“I think that’s really a joke of the President and should not be taken to mean na may cancer talaga siya (that he really has cancer),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference.
Roque issued the clarification a day after Duterte told his audience in Tacloban City that he might have cancer.
During the joint meeting of the national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict in Eastern Visayas, Duterte apologized for coughing in the middle of his speech and said his cough could be a symptom of cancer.
“Pasensiya na kayo. I don’t know, but ‘yung pag-ubo ko, progressive. Baka cancer na ang p***** i** (I apologize. I don’t know but my cough is progressive. This son of a b**** might be cancer.)
Roque said the public need not worry about Duterte’s health, maintaining that the 75-year-old President has no serious illness.
Duterte would inform the public, should he learn that he is seriously ill, Roque reiterated.
“I do not have any information na dapat mag-alala tayo (for us to be worried). Ang Presidente naman po ay abugado. Susunod po siya sa Saligang Batas. Kung merong seryosong karamdaman, ipagbibigay alam niya po iyan sa publiko (The President is a lawyer. He will follow the Constitution. If he has serious illness, he will let the public know),” Roque said.
Article 7, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution mandates the President to declare the real condition of his health “in case of serious illness.”
No out-of-town events
Quizzed if Duterte has a plan to go on hiatus from public engagements following his remarks, Roque said the Chief Executive’s next activities would be held at Malacañan Palace in Manila.
Roque said Duterte’s weekly public address would also push through on Monday.
He, however, noted that Duterte has no out-of-town meetings.
“Puro Palasyo lang po siya (He will spend more time at the Palace). He will have his regular talk to the people on Monday. At marami pong meetings sa Palasyo lang pero wala na po siyang out of town (Many meetings will be held at the Palace and he has no out-of-town meetings),” Roque said.
In August last year, Duterte said his doctor had advised him to stop drinking as his Barrett’s esophagus was “nearing Stage 1 cancer.”
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine replaces the tissue lining of the esophagus, based on the definition provided by the Washington-based National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.
People with Barrett’s esophagus, the institute noted, are more likely to develop a rare type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Apart from Barrett’s esophagus, Duterte previously bared that he has Buerger’s disease, a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs.
Duterte also has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that weakens skeletal muscles responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body.
He is also suffering from chronic back pains and migraines.
In October 2018, Duterte announced that the supposed “growth” found in his digestive tract tested negative for cancer.
Malacañang has repeatedly assured the public that Duterte continues to be “fit and healthy” despite his age and health condition. (PNA)