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.”


Philippine, Kuwaiti officials meet amid labor ban

Updated 21 January 2020

Philippine, Kuwaiti officials meet amid labor ban

  • The meeting took place days after the Philippines announced a complete ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait

MANILA: Philippine and Kuwaiti officials on Sunday held talks in the wake of a ban imposed by Manila on Filipinos working in the Gulf state.

Abdullah D. Mama-o, President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) concerns, met with Kuwait Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah to discuss bilateral ties and how to overcome the crisis.

The meeting took place days after the Philippines announced a complete ban on the deployment of new workers to Kuwait following the killing of Jeanelyn Villavende.

A forensic examination conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on Villavende’s body showed “clear indications of sexual abuse,” and signs of physical abuse dating back weeks before her death.

Villavende’s employer and his wife, allegedly the perpetrators in the Filipino maid’s killing, are now behind bars in Kuwait.

During the meeting between Mama-o and Al-Jarallah, “the Filipino official praised Kuwait for the legal procedures the country has taken to address the issue,” Kuwait’s official news agency KUNA reported.

Officials from both countries are scheduled to hold further meetings next month to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait rescued another Filipino maid, Delia Solomon, who accused her employers of mistreatment.

“While a distressed OFW’s plea was going viral (on) social media yesterday, our Kuwait PE (Philippine Embassy) worked quietly on extracting her,” Foreign Undersecretary Brigido Dulay tweeted on Sunday.

“We are happy to report that she is now sheltered in our embassy and we’re working on reuniting her with her loved ones next week.”

Prior to his talks with Al-Jarallah, Mama-o on Saturday met with more than 100 members of the Filipino community in Kuwait.

Issues discussed included the Philippine government’s contingency plan amid tensions in the Middle East, and the decision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s governing board to impose a ban on the deployment of newly hired OFWs bound for Kuwait.

Mama-o, who was accompanied by other Philippine officials, said the Duterte administration will exert all efforts to safeguard the welfare of all Filipinos in the Middle East.

During the Filipino community meeting, Chargé d’Affaires Noordin Pendosina Lomondot assured Filipinos in Kuwait that the embassy is preparing for any scenario in case the situation in the region does not improve.

The official gave Filipino community leaders details of the embassy’s contingency plan, such as possible evacuation routes and the names of area coordinators.