Malacanañg on Tuesday, October 9, said President Rodrigo Duterte has tested negative for cancer.
Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Duterte’s top aide, made the statement amid the clamor for the president to publicly reveal the state of his health as required by the Constitution.
“Sorry to disappoint his critics. the president is very healthy and in high spirits. I know for a fact that he is cancer-free. He will finish his term and live beyond 2022. Tuloy lang po ang aming trabaho. Salamat po sa inyong concern sa kanyang kalusugan (We will continue our work. Thank you for your concern on his health). I assure you, there is nothing to worry about,)” Go said in a chance interview before the presentation of signed laws on occupational safety and health hazards and on personal property security act.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. during a press briefing echoed Go’s statement saying, “It is not serious. It does not have to be divulged.”
“We will abide with the provision of the Constitution. We take it that whatever the president has is not serious for the constitutional provision to apply. So we leave it at that,” he added.
Duterte himself on Tuesday, October 9, assured the public that he is healthy and cancer-free after tests on his Barrett’s disease came out negative.
“Hindi pa ako cancerous (I’m not yet cancerous), so don’t be afraid to go near me. I will not contaminate you,” he said during the induction of the new batch of officers of the Malacanañg Press Corps at the Palace.
“Lumabas na (The result is out)… If you mean I was found positive of cancer? No, it’s not the colon; it’s my Barrett… It’s badly eroded because I was told to stop drinking years ago,” he added.
Duterte also made some jokes about his health, likening it to a battery.
“‘Yang health natin, parang baterya ‘yan, may positive at saka negative. (Our health is like a battery, there is positive and negative),” he said.
Following his statements were accounts from his top aide and government officials confirming his good health.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said, “The president had said he has polyps, he has growth in his intestines, but it’s nothing. It’s benign. It’s a polyp but not cancer, and he was in high spirits. He was very happy yesterday (Monday, October 8), cracking a lot of jokes.”
Zubiri had met with Duterte at the Malacanañg on Monday night, along with Senators Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Richard Gordon, Sherwin Gatchalian, and JV Ejercito to discuss legislative matters. They all had dinner together afterwards.
“The president is as strong as an ox. We saw it yesterday. He was in good spirits,” Zubiri added.
Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also told reporters that the president volunteered the information on his health in the middle of their Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
“In the middle of the meeting, (the president) said, ‘By the way, the test is negative’ and we all applauded and told him, ‘Congratulations, Mr. president!” Año said.
Duterte is the oldest person ever to be elected president in the Philippines and speculation about his health has regularly cropped up since he took office in 2016.