Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

The Filipino leader attended Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony earlier Tuesday using a cane to help him walk. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Philippines’ Duterte cuts short Japan trip in ‘unbearable pain’

  • The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation
  • Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, suffering from “unbearable pain” in his spine after a motorcycle accident, is cutting short a trip to Japan, his spokesman said Tuesday.
The 74-year-old hurt his hip in the crash last week, with his health already the subject of intense speculation following his disclosure earlier this month that he is suffering from a disease that causes one of his eyelids to droop.
A statement from the leader’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would leave Japan sooner than planned, having attended the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito with the aid of a cane.
“The palace announces that the president will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone,” Panelo said.
Duterte later described his predicament in a short video clip posted on Facebook by Senator Christopher Go, a former chief aide who accompanied him on the trip.
“If you ride motorbikes you will experience a crash once or twice in your life. All those who are into motorbikes, they crash like I did,” he said, grimacing and moaning while sat in the back of a car beside Go.
“I can’t bear it, it’s around my belt area (waistline), about three inches. It’s really painful,” added the president, who Go said was on his way back to the Philippines.
Panelo said the pain was “a consequence” of the motorcycle accident that the presidency said Duterte had suffered on the palace grounds.
The leader fell off his vehicle just 10 days after he publicly revealed that he has myasthenia gravis, which causes muscle weakness and can result in drooping of eyelids, blurred vision as well as weakness in a person’s extremities.
Questions over his health have swirled since he took office in 2016, with Duterte at times skipping events and meetings or discussing his various ailments in long and rambling speeches.
He has previously said he used to take fentanyl, a potent opioid painkiller, because of a spinal injury caused by other motorcycle accidents when he was younger.
According to Duterte, his doctor made him stop using fentanyl on learning he was “abusing the drug” by using more than the prescribed patches.
Duterte has also said he suffers from migraines and other illnesses including Buerger’s disease, which is characterised by inflammation of blood vessels, usually due to smoking.
Duterte will see his neurologist Wednesday after flying back to Manila late Tuesday, while his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio will represent him at the emperor’s banquet late Tuesday, Panelo said.
The Filipino leader attended Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony earlier Tuesday using a cane to help him walk, he added.
Senator Go also released a photo of the president sitting down with his forehead propped up by a cane.
The Philippine constitution requires the handover of power to the vice president if the leader dies or is incapacitated.
However Panelo said Tuesday “the public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about as regards the physical health and condition of the president.”


Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

Updated 58 min 17 sec ago

Indian woman who alleged gang rape dies after burn attack

  • The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year
  • The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest

NEW DELHI: An alleged rape victim in northern India who was set on fire while heading to a court hearing in the case has died in a New Delhi hospital, officials said Saturday.
The woman was attacked in the state of Uttar Pradesh by a group of men that included two of the five she had accused of gang rape last year, police said. The two were out of custody on bail.
Five men were arrested in connection with the burn attack, police said.
The 23-year-old woman suffered extensive injuries and was airlifted Thursday from Uttar Pradesh to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, where she died late Friday of cardiac arrest, said Dr. Shalab Kumar, head of the hospital’s burn unit.
Yogi Adityanath, the state’s chief minister, said that the case would be heard in a fast track court and that the “strictest of punishment will be given to the culprits.”
Priyanka Gandhi, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, faulted the Uttar Pradesh government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, for failing to provide the woman with security, even after a similar case in the state in which a woman who accused a BJP lawmaker of rape was severely injured in a vehicle hit-and-run incident.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is known for its poor record regarding crimes against women. According to the most recent available official crime records, police registered more than 4,200 cases of rape in the state in 2017 — the most in India.
Government figures for 2017 also show that police registered 33,658 cases of rape in the country. But the real figure is believed to be far higher as many women in India don’t report cases to police due to fear.
Indian courts also seem to be struggling to deal with these cases. Data shows that more than 90% of cases of crimes against women are pending in city courts.
The burn victim’s death came on the same day police in the southern state of Telangana fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian after investigators took them to the crime scene. Their deaths drew both praise and condemnation in a case that has sparked protests across the country.
The woman’s burned corpse was found last week by a passer-by near the city of Hyderabad, India’s tech hub, after she went missing the previous night.
Police took the four suspects, who had not been charged with any crime, to the scene to help them locate the victim’s phone and other items, officials said. They said the men grabbed police firearms and began shooting, and were killed when police returned fire.
The Telangana High Court ordered authorities to preserve the bodies of the suspects and submit a video of the autopsies ahead of a court hearing set for Monday.
Separately, the National Commission on Human Rights, an autonomous body within India’s Parliament, sent a fact-finding mission to the crime scene and mortuary where the suspects’ bodies were held on Saturday amid questions from opposition lawmakers about the circumstances of the suspects’ deaths.