Spokesman says Duterte suffering from muscle spasms but can work

Duterte appeared to be in pain during his trip to Japan. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 October 2019

Spokesman says Duterte suffering from muscle spasms but can work

  • Doctor said the pains may have been aggravated by a motorcycle fall
  • Duterte had a cane when he was in Tokyo

MANILA, Philippines: A medical checkup showed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is suffering from painful muscle spasms that prompted him to cut short a trip to Japan, his spokesman said Thursday.
Duterte was feeling better but was advised by his doctor to rest and take painkillers to relieve him of the discomfort from lower back muscle spasms, which may have been caused or aggravated by a motorcycle fall last week and another similar accident years ago, spokesman Salvador Panelo said. The doctor ruled out the need for any surgical procedure, Panelo said.
Panelo said the president would still meet Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua on Thursday to discuss Chinese financing of infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
“Despite the president’s somewhat impaired physical profile, he will continue to perform his presidential duties, which include attending to local and foreign engagements in the following days, with the same passion and dedication, in obedience to the constitutional command to serve and protect the Filipino people,” Panelo said.
Duterte’s latest health problem went public when he cut short his trip earlier this week to Japan, where he attended Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony in Tokyo but had to skip two banquets, which were attended instead by his daughter, Sara Duterte. Duterte at times used a cane and appeared to be in pain while in Tokyo.
An avid rider of big motorcycles in his younger days, Duterte, 74, sustained bruises and scratches when he fell off his parked motorcycle last week in the sprawling presidential palace complex in Manila, but Panelo said then that the president’s minor injuries would not affect his schedule.
Duterte said last year that he suffers from “perpetual pain” due to a spinal injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident years ago. He has also acknowledged using Fentanyl, an opioid used to treat chronic pain that can also be used as a recreational drug.
A lack of regular medical bulletins on the president’s health has sparked sporadic speculation about the state of his health, especially when he failed to appear in public for days.
The Philippine Constitution requires that the public be informed of the president’s state of health “in case of serious illness.”


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough

HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.