President Rodrigo Duterte, whose health has always been the subject of much speculation, today canceled a visit to several earthquake-devastated towns in Davao del Sur province because he was feeling under the weather.
However, his spokesman Salvador Panelo dismissed concerns that the president was seriously sick, saying that the situation was nothing extraordinary.
“Maybe he was just not feeling well,” Panelo said in English and Filipino during a press conference today in Malacañang Palace. “That’s an ordinary case. Even I myself am not feeling well today. If you haven’t slept well, it’s natural to feel that way. After that, tomorrow, he will be OK.”
When a reporter pointed out that the president had been spending the past few days resting in his home in Davao City, Panelo answered, “But isn’t he busy there, too? He attended the [Jose] Rizal tribute, he went to visit cancer victims. He also visited earthquake victims…he did a lot of things [there].”
“That’s just what a 74-year-0ld feels,” Panelo added.
It was in October when Duterte cut short a visit to Tokyo because he was suffering from “unbearable pain” which was discovered to have been caused by a muscle spasm. Shortly after, he lamented that he was not in the best of health, and that “life has begun to take its toll” on him.
In November, the president was supposed to go on a three-day leave to rest, but this was quickly canceled and Panelo said Duterte would work from home in Davao City instead. Panelo didn’t explain the reason behind the sudden reversal.
Duterte has been known to skip events and occasionally vanish from the public eye unannounced. In February last year, after he pulled one such stunt, he reappeared in a video on social media holding the day’s newspaper to dispel rumors he had passed away.