See More on Facebook

Palace: Duterte OK despite new illness

President Rodrigo Duterte is “OK and well,” Malacañang said on Monday, despite the 74-year-old leader’s admission that he suffers from an autoimmune disease that can potentially have serious complications.

Written by

Updated: October 8, 2019

Rodrigo Duterte is the oldest politician to be elected President of the Philippines, and questions about his health have swirled since he took office in 2016.

His occasional skipping of events and meetings, as well as him discussing his ailments, has only added to the speculation.

Myasthenia gravis

At a meeting with Filipino expatriates in Moscow on Saturday, his last official event on a five-day visit to Russia, the President disclosed that he had been suffering from myasthenia gravis, which causes one of his eyelids to droop.

“One of my eyes is smaller. It roams on its own,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Office of the President on Sunday.

“That’s myasthenia gravis. It’s a nerve malfunction. I got it from my grandfather,” he said.

The condition causes muscle weakness, and can result in drooping eyelids, blurred vision as well as weakness in one’s extremities, according to the US National Institute of Health.

It can generally be managed with treatment, but up to 20 percent of people who have the disease experience at least one “crisis” that requires them to use a ventilator to help breathe, the institute said.

The President gave no indication as to whether he had any serious incidents as a result of the disease.

Malacañang gives out very little information about the President’s health and consistently says he is in good shape.

‘He’s probably OK’

At a press briefing in the Palace on Monday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that, although he did not know anything about the new illness, the President was “probably OK.”

“What he complained about was he wasn’t able to sleep during the flight … But he was well, when he met the reporters. He was up and about,” Panelo said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said that although he was not privy to the President’s latest ailment, the condition would not affect his performance in office.


Duque said a lot of who had been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis continued “to live normal lives.”

“There’s a medicine for it. It will not affect his performance as long as he is monitored by a doctor,” Duque said.

After landing in Davao City on Sunday afternoon, the President told reporters that he came down with a “very bad case of cold” due to the chilly weather in Russia.

Photos of the President in Russia showed him wearing thick coats to keep himself warm.

He admitted that he had difficulty getting sleep on the flight home.

The President also experienced muffled hearing, prompting reporters to repeat their questions to him.

Other ailments

The President himself has discussed his ailments in his frequent speeches. In October 2018, he told an audience how he was awaiting the results of a cancer screening.

His comments sparked immediate concern and speculation, but days later, he said the test had come back negative.

The President also said previously that he was suffering from daily migraines and ailments including Buerger’s disease, an illness that affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.

He has cited his ill health as the reason for skipping events during summits abroad.

In 2016, the President disclosed that he used to take fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, because of a spinal injury from motorcycle accidents.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
About the Author: The Philippine Daily Inquirer is one the country’s most credible and influential newspapers with over 500 awards and citations.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se

By China Daily
March 13, 2020

India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.

By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M

By Daily Star
March 10, 2020

MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai

By The Star
March 9, 2020

OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the

By ANN Members
March 6, 2020