In what could be an admission or a premonition, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he has only three to five years to live.
The President made the pronouncement in a speech at the inauguration of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 in Quezon City, where he appealed to the public to choose the next Philippine leader in 2022 who can “forcefully” fight corruption.
“I am asking it on behalf of the Filipino people, not for me. I am already old,” said the 75-year-old Duterte.
“In three to five years, I am gone,” he added.
The President, who has previously admitted that he suffers from a long list of illnesses, did not disclose details.
His state of health has been a recurring issue in his presidency given his old age.
Duterte and his spokesmen have refused to disclose his medical records, but he has declared in separate instances that he suffers from migraines, back pains, Barrett’s esophagus, Buerger’s disease, and myasthenia gravis.
Duterte also said that he has been experiencing occasional headaches and has spinal issues which he attributes to a motorcycle accident when he was 68 years old. He also admitted to taking sleeping pills and the highly addictive Fentanyl.
The oldest official to be elected as president also admitted that he has several medications — including Viagra, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction.
His health took the spotlight in 2019 after he cut short a trip to Japan because of “unbearable pain” in his lower back and hips.
The pain, Malacañang said, was due to a motorcycle mishap in the Palace compound that had grabbed headlines the week before.
His previous admissions fueled speculations on his alleged deteriorating health, and critics have been demanding the release of his medical bulletin, noting that transparency about the President’s health is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
Sara egged on
During his speech, Duterte also claimed that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is being convinced to seek the presidency in the 2022 elections.
He also reiterated that he has been discouraging his daughter to run in the next presidential polls, saying the highest government post is “not for women.”
“My daughter, they’re egging her to run. And I told them, ‘My daughter is not running,’” the Chief Executive said.
He did not disclose the identities of individuals who are supposedly encouraging his daughter to become the next President.
“I told her not to run. I pity her because she’ll also go through what I did. The emotional set-up of a woman and a man is totally different,” Duterte said.
This was not the first that Duterte publicly discouraged his daughter from seeking the presidency, although he has repeatedly praised her political influence.
He once cited her role in the ouster of Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker in 2018.
Duterte-Carpio had also endorsed the speakership of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, who ousted Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano from the Lower Chamber’s helm last year.
“I know what it’s like to be President. Don’t believe the clamor of the people because when the water gets rough, you find you’re the only one sailing the lonely sea,” Duterte told her daughter in a televised interview last year.
The younger Duterte has neither confirmed nor denied plans of seeking the presidency in 2022, saying her decision would depend on the circumstances.
She currently leads the regional political party “Hugpong ng Pagbabago.”
A recent survey by Pulse Asia, conducted from 23 November to 2 December, showed that Duterte-Carpio emerged as a possible top contender for president in the 2022 national elections.
Trailing behind the presidential daughter and tied at second place were Senator Grace Poe and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at 14 percent.
The commissioned Pulse Asia poll also showed that Manila mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso came in third with a 12 percent preference rating.
Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, recently chosen as president of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, ranked fourth with a 10 percent preference rating.
He was followed by Vice President Leni Robredo who acquired 8 percent in fifth place, followed by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who are tied at sixth place at 4 percent.
Respondents of the Pulse Asia survey were asked: “Of the people on this list, whom would you vote for as President of the Philippines if the May 2022 elections were held today and they were candidates? You may mention others not included in this list.”