Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Julie M. Aurelio @Jmaurelioi­nq

President Duterte was forced on Tuesday to cut short his visit to Japan for the enthroneme­nt of Emperor Naruhito due to what Malacañang said was “unbearable pain” in his lower back after a motorcycle accident last week.

Presidenti­al spokespers­on Salvador Panelo said Mr. Duterte decided to return home two days earlier, and would see a doctor.

“The President will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone as a consequenc­e of his fall during his motorcycle ride last Thursday, Oct. 17,” Panelo said in a statement.

He said the President was arriving late Tuesday, and would see his neurologis­t on Wednesday.

Mr. Duterte himself spoke to the nation on Tuesday night through Facebook Live using Sen. Christophe­r “Bong” Go’s account.

“Good evening, my countrymen, fellow Filipinos. You know, about four days ago, I took a spill from my motorcycle. When you ride

motorcycle­s, maybe once or twice in your life, you will really take a fall,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President tried to make light of his accident, but admitted that he could no longer bear the pain in his hip. He grimaced in pain before the video was cut short.

“All motorcycle riders fall off. Like my accident. But the thing is I could no longer bear the pain in the belt area, around three inches. It is really painful. I was just brushing my teeth after waking up and eating. It’s really…,” Mr. Duterte said, groaning in apparent pain.

Go later posted a short Facebook Live video, giving assurance that the President was in good condition.

“Apologies, the video was cut short. To our fellow Filipinos,

please do not worry. Our beloved President is in good condition,” he said.

He then panned the camera toward Mr. Duterte, who was seen leafing through pages of what looked like models of gokarts.

“He is here, looking through his favorite photos of motorcycle­s, and he said he will not stop riding motorcycle­s because he cannot live without riding motorcycle­s. Look, he’s still looking at motorcycle­s,” Go said.

Fervent speculatio­n

The health of Mr. Duterte, 74, and his absences from the public spotlight are often the subject of fervent speculatio­n, and the source of complaints from critics that his administra­tion is not forthcomin­g about the extent of his ailments.

Mr. Duterte had a minor fall from a motorcycle at the Presidenti­al Security Group compound on Thursday, causing hip pain, light bruises and scratches on his elbow and knee.

He used a walking stick in Tokyo on Tuesday during the ceremony for Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne, but decided to skip a banquet to return home and see his neurologis­t, Panelo said.

“The public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry as regards the physical health and condition of the President as he gives serious priority thereto in actively serving our country,” he added.

It was the third time this month that the government has tried to ease concerns about Mr. Duterte’s health after the President told the Filipino community in Moscow that the frequent drooping of one eyelid was due to a chronic neuromuscu­lar disorder.

Mr. Duterte’s known problems include back pain, migraines from nerve damage after a previous motorcycle accident, and Barrett’s esophagus, affecting his throat.

His circulatio­n is impacted by Buerger’s disease, from heavy smoking when he was younger. He said last year that he had tested negative for cancer.

Proof-of-life photos

When Mr. Duterte is missing for a long stretch and amid rumors about his deteriorat­ing health, Go, his former longtime aide, posts on social media what appear to be proofof-life images of the President relaxing at home, often with the day’s newspaper in the shot.

On Tuesday, Go posted photos of himself, Mr. Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte at a hotel in Tokyo, preparing for the enthroneme­nt ceremony.

Some of the photos showed the President, the Davao mayor, and Go posing for the cameras, while others showed the President leaning on a cane for support.

Panelo said the President was able to attend the ceremony, although “carrying a cane to assist him in his walk.”

Malacañang also released a statement on Naruhito’s ascension to the throne, sharing the Japanese people’s joy at having a new emperor and conveying the Philippine­s’ “warm wishes” for the new Reiwa era in Japan.

Panelo said Mr. Duterte decided to skip the banquet to return home. The President was represente­d at the banquet for Naruhito by Mayor Duterte.

Lean delegation

Mr. Duterte was originally scheduled to return home on

Thursday. He arrived in Tokyo at 12.54 a.m. on Tuesday with Go, Mayor Duterte, special envoy for trade and market access Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V and chief of presidenti­al protocol Robert Borje.

Despite his injuries from the motorcycle fall, Mr. Duterte attended a business conference at the Manila Hotel on Thursday, walking with a slight limp.

He showed his injuries to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez while they were on the stage.

Mr. Duterte also played host to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.

The two leaders sat down for a bilateral meeting and oversaw the signing of four agreements between the Philippine­s and India.

Mr. Duterte also hosted a banquet in honor of the Indian president.

 ?? —PHOTO FROM BONG GO’S FACEBOOK ?? PRIVATE MOMENT President Duterte and Sen. Bong Go, a longtime aide, cool their heels at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan, ahead of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthe­mum Throne on Tuesday.
—PHOTO FROM BONG GO’S FACEBOOK PRIVATE MOMENT President Duterte and Sen. Bong Go, a longtime aide, cool their heels at a hotel in Tokyo, Japan, ahead of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the Chrysanthe­mum Throne on Tuesday.

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