Duterte says tissue samples ‘not yet cancerous’

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Rodrigo R. Duterte

HINDI pa ako cancerous.”

With those words, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday evening sought to lay to rest speculations he was stricken with the disease.

“It was negative…” he told reporters in a press conference in Malacañang when pressed for results of tests he underwent at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan, Metro Manila.

The public has been clamoring for information about Mr. Duterte’s health after the 73-year-old missed two official events last week.

“He disclosed to us that the result of the test was negative, the one where they took samples from his intestines,” Eduardo M. Año, officer in charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government, told reporters earlier that day in an event posted on Facebook live.

Mr. Año said Mr. Duterte made the disclosure during a Cabinet meeting on Monday night. The president made an unscheduled visit to a hospital when doctors asked him to repeat digestive tract procedures three weeks after similar tests.

The Philippine constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious. If the leader dies in office, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice-president succeeds to serve out the rest of a six-year, single term.

Mr. Duterte insisted on Tuesday that his condition was “not for public consumption” and that he was legally obliged to inform the public of any serious health condition only through his Cabinet.

Mr. Duterte’s health was a constant source of speculation after he disappeared from public view for a week last year but his aides dismissed rumors of his medical condition.

Over the weekend, Mr. Duterte was in Hong Kong with his partner and young daughter on an unannounced trip. — with Reuters