Manila, Oct 7 (IANS) Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he has a chronic neuromuscular disease, the latest in a series of ailments affecting the Philippines President, whose health has been questioned several times over the last year.
Duterte publicly discussed the condition – called myasthenia gravis, which is causing one of his eyelids to droop – during a meeting with the Philippine diaspora in Moscow on Saturday, and a day later, the presidential office released a transcript of the speech, reports Efe news.
“It’s a nerve malfunction. I got it from my grandfather,” said Duterte, 74, explaining why one of his eyes appeared smaller than the other.
Myasthenia gravis is an auto-immune disease that causes weakness in skeletal muscles and in extreme cases leads to drooping eyelids, blurred vision and even respiratory problems.
There is no known cure for the disease, although treatment can help relieve symptoms.
Duterte, known for his packed schedule and long speeches, has missed several events during the last year without explanation, causing speculation over the state of his health, although his administration has insisted he is well.
However, the President has himself publicly acknowledged some of his ailments over the years and admitted in October 2018 that he was waiting for the results of some cancer-related tests, which turned out to be negative.
Duterte is also known to suffer from migraines, spinal issues, Barrett’s esophagus – a condition which causes abnormal cell growth in the throat – and Buerger’s disease, which affects veins and arteries in the limbs and is often caused by smoking.
The Philippine constitution mandates that the public be informed about the president’s state of health if he or she contracts a serious disease, although Duterte’s team has repeatedly denied such a scenario.
If a president dies or is permanently disabled while in office, the vice-president is supposed to take charge for the remainder of the six-year presidential term.
The post of the vice-president is currently held by Leni Robredo, the leader of the opposition and a fierce Duterte critic.