At doctors’ event, Duterte disclosed procedures he went through

September 24, 2018 - 2:22 PM
President Rodrigo Duterte delivering a speech at Taguig's founding anniversary. (The STAR/KJ Rosales)

President Rodrigo Duterte admitted to undergoing medical procedures for stomach complications, admitting to sickness after previous public speculation.

The 73-year old Duterte while giving a speech at a forum held by the Asia Pacific Association of Gastroenterology in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu revealed that he recently underwent colonoscopy and endoscopy after he was diagnosed with Barret’s esophagus.

Duterte admitted that his illness was the result of heavy drinking and smoking in his younger days.

“Well, I have a bad case of Barrett. He (doctor) said, if you’ll just stop drinking, you will live,” Duterte said.

He related that his family has a history of constipation, passed down by his mother and that he had previously suffered from a  spine injury following a motorcycle accident earlier in his life.

Duterte assured his audience that he was still in good health despite his condition.

“Maybe God is sometimes kind. He builds your immunity system that good, he reportedly said.

“I’m 73, and they are still very good, still healthy, no problem,” he added.”

The president’s health

Barret’s esophagus is a long-term development suffered by those who experience gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.

The condition develops when acid from GERD inflames the lining of the esophagus causing it to change and resemble the lining of the small intestine.

It is a rare condition, as only 10 percent of those who suffer from GERD develop Barret’s. While it is not fatal, those who suffer from the condition may likely develop esophageal cancer or cancer of the esophagus, the sixth most common cause of cancer worldwide.

Endoscopy and colonoscopy, the procedures he underwent, are also non-surgical and are performed to merely to examine a person’s upper and lower digestive track.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque at a press conference on Monday said that the procedures were part of a routine checkup and that Duterte would not have disclosed having a serious ailment.


The septuagenarian president’s health has been a frequent topic in recent months.

Some have speculated that darkened pigmentation on his face in recent months was the symptom of a serious disease.

He later dispelled rumors of a possible disease, explaining that his darkened skin was merely the effect of exposure to desert air during his trips to Jordan and Israel in August 2018.

In that same month, Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison claimed that he received information that Duterte was comatose. Sison is a former college professor of Duterte’s who later became one of his most outspoken critics following the breakdown of government peace talks with the communist rebels.

Sison retracted his statements after Duterte made a live appearance broadcast on Facebook and explained that he never received full confirmation of the information.

The exiled communist leader has been trading accusations of failing health with his former student ever since once-cordial relations between the CPP and the Duterte turned sour in 2017.

Duterte in July that year said that Sison suffered from colon cancer, a claim which Sison denied.

Since rumors on Duterte’s health swirled, the Palace has clarified that the president’s public appearances were sufficient proof of his good health and has asked the public to stop the speculation.

Article VII, Sec. 12 of the 1987 Constitution mandates that “in case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health.”