Duterte’s photo in Velasco, Cayetano meeting sparks questions on health status anew

October 15, 2020 - 12:44 PM
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Duterte with sunglasses
President Rodrigo Duterte meets with Rep. Alan Cayetano and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco in Malacañang on Oct. 13, 2020. (Screenshot from PCOO via Facebook)

Speculations on President Rodrigo Duterte‘s health status rose anew after a picture of him with newly-elected House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday gained traction online.

The chief executive held a meeting with Reps. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig, First District) and Velasco (Marinduque) at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse on Tuesday to discuss the passage of the 2021 national budget.

Hours before the meeting, Velasco has already been elected to stand as the speaker of the lower chamber by 186 lawmakers.

Palace reporters shared pictures of the meeting on social media.

GMA Palace correspondent Joseph Morong shared a photo of a sunglass-wearing president talking to Cayetano who is waving to a newly-arrived Velasco.

The picture was sourced from the Palace itself.

When photos of the meeting reached social media, netizens aired their observations and questions on Duterte’s physique.

At least three Reddit posts concerning the photo landed on the discussion website’s Philippine trending list, all of them inquiring about the unusual form observed in the president’s abdomen area.

(Screenshot by Interaksyon)

“Does anybody notice Duterte’s tummy? It looks like a rectangular shape under his shirt. What’s that for???” a Twitter user asked.

“I have many questions about this photo alone. What’s on Duterte’s tummy underneath his shirt? Why is he wearing sunglasses indoors? Dahil sa lights for photo ops?” another online user asked with a thinking emoji.

“Na-bother ako sa square na bagay sa tummy ni Duterte. Parang me medical device or something ang nakakabit, just wondering?” a Filipino likewise asked.

Some speculated that it might be a “bulletproof vest” while others quipped it might be a “portable dialysis machine.”

A Reddit user claimed of having a pouch on the right side of the body in a supposed comparison to Duterte’s.

“Ascending colostomy sa akin (nasa right ko), ‘yung sa kanya nasa left. I think, oo, siguro. Kaya hindi din ako nagsusuot ng white shirts kasi mas halata talaga,” the online user wrote.

A colostomy is a surgical operation where a piece of colon is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall to bypass a damaged part of the colon.

An ascending colostomy is a type of colostomy that is located on the right side of the abdomen. It discharges liquid and a drainable pouch is worn by an individual.

Known medical conditions 

Duterte previously admitted to having chronic and relatively serious ailments in the past.

He disclosed that he has Barret’s esophagus in 2018, a long-term development suffered by those who experience gastroesophageal reflux or GERD.

The president also bared that he underwent non-surgical procedures endoscopy and colonoscopy for it.

Duterte likewise shared of having myasthenia gravis in 2019, an autoimmune disease that causes the drooping of one of his eyelids.

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld its ruling on junking a lawyer’s petition that compelled the government to release the president’s medical bulletins.

The lawyer had cited instances when Duterte had begged off from attending some engagements due to health reasons.

The public, according to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, is supposed to know about the chief executive’s state of health “in case of serious illness,” although it did not further define what constitutes such a condition.

In August, rumors swirled around closed chat groups that Duterte left the country to seek treatment in Singapore.

READ: Chat groups strike again: Duterte’s photo, video released to quell ‘Singapore flight’ rumor

Palace quelled these rumors with photos and a live stream of Duterte supposedly in his home in Davao City.