Duterte should disclose health status, spokesman says

President Duterte said Thursday, Oct. 4, he might have cancer and added that "I don't know where I'm now physically" as he awaited the result of recent medical tests. (File photo / AP)
Updated 05 October 2018

Duterte should disclose health status, spokesman says

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should consider publicly disclosing the state of his health to stop speculation after revealing he underwent medical tests that may show if he has cancer, his spokesman said Friday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a news conference that the president can’t be compelled to disclose his health condition under the constitution unless he has a serious illness, but that he plans to ask Duterte to issue a statement on his health to end the uncertainty.
“I will tell, perhaps, we need to issue a medical bulletin, whether or not it’s serious. Perhaps we would need to bring in your physician because it’s the only way to stop all talk about your health,” Roque said.
Duterte said in a speech Thursday that he underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy about three weeks ago but his doctor was advised this week to repeat the tests with tissue samples, which may show whether he has cancer. The tests aim to diagnose any abnormality in the digestive tract and colon.
“I don’t know where I’m now physically but I have to wait for that. But I would tell you if it’s cancer, it’s cancer,” the 73-year-old Duterte told a military gathering. Duterte added that “if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere.”
Asked to disclose more details about Duterte’s condition, Roque said he did not know much but that the president had disclosed in a meeting Thursday with top police and military officials that doctors needed to do another test “because they wanted just to be sure that there was a growth and that they wanted to know more about the growth.”
Rumors have swirled for some time that Duterte, known for his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, might have a serious illness. Duterte and his aides, however, have repeatedly said he was generally fit although he had grown tired of politics after serving about 40 years in different government posts.
Although the president has acknowledged having certain illnesses, he has never issued a formal statement on his health since taking office in June 2016. He has said he has Barrett’s esophagus, a condition thought to be caused by stomach acid washing up into the esophagus, as well as migraines and other ailments caused by drinking and a motorcycle accident years ago.
Some people have speculated that recent dark patches on his face and forehead may be a sign of a kidney problem, but Duterte explained that provincial trips gave him a sunburn.
After the president skipped meetings Wednesday, Roque and another presidential aide, Christopher Go, told reporters he was tired after a trip and opted to have some personal time.
Roque, however, said he was unaware that the president had undergone medical tests and added that he was considering resigning for not having been informed of crucial details about the president.
“I was taken aback about the diagnostic examination. I did not lie to anyone because I simply did not know,” Roque told a news conference Friday, adding that he would announce early next week whether he will quit.


10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

Updated 17 min 57 sec ago

10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

  • The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks
  • Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures

DHAKA: At least 10,000 people are homeless after a massive fire swept through a crowded slum in the Bangladesh capital and destroyed thousands of shanties, officials said Sunday.
The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks, fire services official Ershad Hossain said.
“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” 58-year-old Abdul Hamid, who ran a tea stall inside the slum, said as he broke down in tears.
Authorities eventually got the blaze under control and no-one was killed, although several people had minor injuries, firefighters said.
Many residents — largely low-income garment factory workers — were not in the slum as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday with their families.
“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.
Around 10,000 people have taken refuge in crammed camps at nearby schools closed for the weeklong holiday, according to Hossain.
“We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam said, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.
Some families have erected tarpaulins to shelter them from bouts of rain during the monsoon season, but the wet conditions have turned the fields muddy.
Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures.
At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.
In 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.
A 2010 fire in Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.