Duterte back from Hong Kong trip
A refreshed President Rodrigo Duterte is back at the helm after a brief holiday with his family in Hong Kong, according to his communication secretary.
The President returned on Sunday after an unannounced trip to the Chinese special administrative region with his partner, Honeylet Avanceña, and their daughter, Veronica.
“Our President was accompanied by his family. I think he deserves a break and family time, because we’ve seen how hardworking the President is,” Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar said in a radio interview on Monday.
The President presided over a Cabinet meeting last night.
The 73-year-old President took the trip after raising questions about his health by saying in public on Thursday that he had gone to a hospital for tests, a day after he missed a Cabinet meeting and another event.
The President had disappeared from public view before, but Malacañang then brushed aside speculation he was ill.
This time, however, the President seemed to confirm he might have health problems.
“I don’t know where I am physically, but I have to wait for that,” he said at a dinner he was hosting for soldiers and police officers at Malacañang on Thursday. His speech was televised nationally.
The President said he underwent endoscopy and colonoscopy the previous Wednesday, after undergoing the same tests three weeks ago, and he was waiting for the results.
“But I will tell you if it’s cancer. If it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere,” he said.
The Palace said the tests were done to investigate a growth in the President’s digestive tract, and announcing the results to the public would depend on the findings.
Alarmed lawmakers urged Malacañang to be forthcoming and let the public know the true state of the President’s health.
Earlier, amid news of the President’s absences, pollster Social Weather Stations conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of Filipinos were worried about the President’s health and 45 percent believed he was ailing.
To put the matter to rest, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go released pictures showing the President and his family having a good time in Hong Kong on Saturday.
In a talk with reporters on Monday, Go said the trip was private and nobody but him knew about it.
“The President suddenly decided to go on vacation. He missed bonding with his daughter, which he had not done for the past two years,” Go said.
‘No serious illness’
He said the President frequented Hong Kong when he was mayor of Davao City, taking his daughter along and dining at small restaurants in the former British colony.
Go said only the President could decide whether to disclose his health condition.
He said the hospital had not yet released the results of the President’s tests, but insisted the President had “no serious illness.”
Later, in San Fernando, Pampanga province, Go told reporters that the President was in “tiptop condition.”
“He is not suffering from any ailment that should concern the public, and will serve his full term until 2022 and live beyond that year,” he said.
The President has publicly stated that he is suffering from Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and Buerger’s disease, a constriction of blood vessels due to accumulation of nicotine.
He has also said that he takes fentanyl to ease pain from injuries he sustained from a motorcycle accident many years ago.
Andanar denied the President went to Hong Kong for a medical checkup.
“Those are just rumors. We saw the photos showing the President strolling about and looking at yellow clothes to buy,” Andanar said. —With reports from Marlon Ramos, Tonette Orejas and the wires
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.