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‘Nothing unusual for 73-year-old’

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Revealing doctors have found a growth inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s digestive tract during a medical examination, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the finding was not unusual and the medical tests that Mr. Duterte underwent were normal for his age.

Questions about the President’s health swirled anew yesterday after Mr. Duterte revealed in a speech he is awaiting the results of hospital procedures, saying “if it’s cancer, it’s cancer.”

Mr. Duterte added “if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere.”

The President skipped Wednesday night’s Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.(Pagcor) event at the Palace which his critics used to spark speculations about his health condition.

“The President remains healthy. I overheard him saying tell me a 73-year old who doesn’t have one ailment,” Roque said.

He added examinations that Mr. Duterte went through were normal for somebody who is 73 years old and were not due to an exceptional disease.

Roque said Mr. Duterte disclosed the information during the joint military-police command conference in Malacañang late Thursday, adding the growth in his intestine was the reason for doctors to hold new tests on him.

The President stated he went to the hospital late Wednesday to undergo medical tests.
“Endoscopy was recommended, from his own words, in the general command conference, because they wanted to be sure. There was a growth and they wanted to know more about the growth,” Roque said.

“He had a general exam and after which, I supposed from what he said in the command conference, they wanted a more specific exam, zeroing in on something,” Roque added.

Kuwait visit this month

Dismissing questions on his stamina, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Mr. Duterte is traveling to Kuwait this month.

“I think he’s going there anytime this month,” Bello said.

Mr. Duterte has repeatedly mentioned his plan to visit the Gulf state to personally thank its officials for signing a memorandum of agreement for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who was with Bello for an inter-agency meeting at the DFA office in Pasay City, did not say whether the trip will be an official visit or a state visit but indicated an official announcement will be made soon.

Cayetano said Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaked Al-Hamad Al-Sabah himself followed up on Duterte’s visit during their bilateral meeting at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

“He said they are already waiting for him and the President is most welcome and whoever Filipino officials who will visit,” Cayetano said.

Upfront admissions

“Three weeks ago, I had my endoscopy and colonoscopy. Then I was about to have a Cabinet meeting yesterday, but the reading… somebody advised my doctor to repeat [the tests] and get some samples there so I stayed for one hour at Cardinal Santos,” Duterte shared Thursday night during an earlier dinner he hosted for the alumni of the Philippine Military Academy.

Endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine the upper digestive tract and is done by inserting a long, flexible tube equipped with a camera through the mouth.

Colonoscopy, on the other hand, “is an examination used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum.” It is done by inserting a long and flexible tube equipped with a camera into the rectum.

“I can’t say if I’m seriously ill or not. But I do have this Barrett’s condition that has been bothering me ever since due to my excessive drinking. I ignored it and didn’t stop drinking. Now I regret it,” he said.

The Chief Executive had revealed early in his term that he was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus which is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition where the tissue lining the esophagus changes to tissues that resemble the lining of the intestine.

Duterte’s absence during at an official function and the cancellation of a scheduled Cabinet meeting last Wednesday reignited rumors that he is ill.

Officials were quick to dismiss such claims and insisted that the President is healthy and merely opted to take a day off following days of non-stop work and travel.

There have been persistent false rumors about Duterte’s health. One of his political enemies, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, previously claimed that the supposed darkening of the President’s face was a sign of a serious kidney ailment. The President denied Sison’s allegations.

with AP and AFP

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