A cane-bearing President Rodrigo Duterte attended the wake of former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. in Taguig City late last night, right after returning from a trip to Tokyo that had to be cut short due to “unbearable pain” caused by a recent accident.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement today that the president arrived safely in Manila at around 10:33pm after witnessing Japan’s Emperor Naruhito’s formal ascension to the throne. Panelo maintained that while Duterte’s trip to Japan had been cut short due to a “searing pain in the spinal pelvic area of his body,” the president was “able to endure” the discomfort in order to pay respects to Aquilino, the founder of Duterte’s own Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (“Democratic Party of Filipinos – Strength of the Nation”).
The president, who appeared tired and walked with a cane, arrived at the wake at about 11pm, Rappler reported.
The late senate president’s son, Senator Koko Pimentel, told news show Umagang Kay Ganda today that Duterte appeared to be doing fine despite his injury.
Senator Koko said, in a mix of English and Filipino, “For me, he’s a normal 70-year-old man. Plus, of course, there’s the added fatigue from [his Japan] trip.”
This is not the first time the president’s health issues have been in the spotlight. Earlier this month, Duterte said he has myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease which causes muscle weakness and blurred vision.
Following a motorcycle accident in 2016, the president also revealed that he once took more than the required dosage of Fentanyl, a powerful painkiller which experts worry could be potentially addictive, and which has been linked to numerous overdoses.
Duterte has mentioned that the drug made him feel like he was on “cloud nine.” In the same speech, he added that he had stopped taking it because his doctor got mad when he took more than the prescribed dose. (Duterte’s current injury was also reportedly sustained in a motorcycle accident.)
That same year, the president also admitted that he suffered from migraine headaches and Buerger’s disease, a condition caused by blockages in the blood vessels, which he linked to drinking and smoking in his youth.