Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made known that his doctor told him that his Barrett’s esophagus condition was “nearing stage one cancer”.
Duterte made the revelation in a pre-recorded televised address that aired on August 25.
Malacanang on August 26 allayed fears about Duterte’s supposed deteriorating health.
The Palace said that the doctor’s advice to watch his diet due to his Barrett’s esophagus ailment “nearing stage one cancer” was given a “long time ago.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said people are “putting too much meaning” on Duterte’s remarks about his health, adding that the president remains healthy.
“I think that advice was given to him a long time ago when the President was still drinking. He has since stopped drinking and as far as I know since he became president he has not resumed drinking,” Roque said.
“So you’re talking of a medical advice that happened many years ago, even prior to the presidency. And I think the reason why the President stopped drinking is to prevent it from developing into stage 1 cancer. That is the context of what the President said,” Roque added.
Under Section 12, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the President is mandated to inform the public of his health condition in the case of serious illnesses.
President Duterte said he has been advised to stop drinking alcohol to avoid worsening his ailment.
Duterte previously admitted suffering from Barret’s esophagus due to his alcohol intake.
Barrett’s esophagus is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
It is a condition in which stomach regurgitates its contents into the esophagus and consequently erodes the esophagus, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins Medicine website.
The condition can sometimes develop into esophageal cancer, the institute explained.
The 75-year-old Duterte talked about his health while discussing his and other old Cabinet members’ commitment to fight corruption during his taped public address.
“Matagal na kami sa gobyerno, magpa-retire na lang, bakit pa namin pagsayangan? Kakaunting panahon na lang ang naiwan so walang… walang… walang ganang… wala nang ganang kumain (We have been in government for a long time. We will retire soon so why would we waste it? We have a few years left, we no longer have an appetite to eat),” Duterte said during a meeting with several Cabinet members in Davao City on August 25.
“May pera ka naman, hindi ka na makakain kay sabi ng doktor huwag kang kumain ng taba kasi mamatay ka (You have money but you can’t eat because the doctors said you must not eat fat because you will die),” he said.
“Ikaw Duterte, huwag ka nang uminom kasi ‘yang Barrett mo nearing stage one ka sa cancer. So hindi na rin (Duterte, do not drink because your Barrett is nearing stage one cancer, so I stopped),” Duterte said.
Even early in his term, Duterte admitted having a myriad of ailments, including Buerger’s Disease and myasthenia gravis, among others.
Despite these health issues, Malacañang has repeatedly assured that the President was fit enough to hold office.
Weeks ago, rumors spread that Duterte sought an emergency medical checkup in Singapore, but photos and videos from his former aid, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, debunked these claims.
The President said in the past that he had been experiencing occasional headaches and has spinal issues which he attributes to a motorcycle accident when he was 68 years old.
He has also revealed to taking sleeping pills and the highly addictive Fentanyl.
Duterte also admitted to having myasthenia gravis–an autoimmune disease that destroys muscle receptors and can result in the drooping of eyelids, or overall weakness.