PHILIPPINES President Rodrigo Duterte said he has undergone tests to determine whether he has been struck by cancer and hinted that the potential illness could see an early end to his tenure in office.
Duterte confirmed that he went to the Cardinal Santos Medical Centre on Wednesday (Oct 3) where the went for follow up tests where doctors took samples from his stomach area.
While the state of his health is currently unclear, Duterte said he would inform the public if he had cancer, according to Rappler.
“I don’t know where I’m now physically but I have to wait for that. But I will tell you if it’s cancer, it’s cancer,” he said.
Duterte suggested his condition may have to do with Barrett’s esophagus, a gastroesophageal reflux disease.
According to WebMd, the condition is where normal tissue lining the esophagus — the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach — changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine.
Duterte has previously said he may have been facing this serious condition.
“When you lie down, there’s that cap that closes so the acid of the stomach does not reach the esophagus. It’s corrosive. This one is built to withstand grinding but this one no,” he said.
“So if you get there, it’s like you do this in the morning [makes a vomiting motion], that’s reflux. Because I ignored it, I didn’t stop drinking. So now, nothing. Regret, it always comes late. So it got worse.”
The president also said he would refuse treatment if the cancer is in an advanced stage.
“If it’s 3rd stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong my agony in this office,” he said.
Speculation began to swirl in Philippine media after Duterte missed a Wednesday cabinet meeting and another public event, according to the AFP.
Duterte keeps up a punishing schedule of appearances ranging from shopping mall openings to police funerals, and frequently delivers multiple, lengthy speeches per day.
The government had denied the leader was having health problems, with spokesman Harry Roque saying the president “just took his day off.”
“I assure you that I have no information that he went to a hospital,” Roque added.