Back Pain Forces Philippine President to Cut Short Trip to Japan

Mark Navales
191022-PH-duterte-620.jpg Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is resting on his cane during his trip to Japan, Oct. 22, 2019.
Courtesy Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte cut short his trip to Japan for the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito on Tuesday because of injuries suffered when he fell from a motorcycle last week.

Duterte is to see a neurologist on Wednesday, meaning he will miss the emperor’s banquet at the Imperial Palace after attending the enthronement. His daughter, Sara Duterte, will represent the Philippines.

“The palace announces that 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,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a Tuesday statement. He said the president was expected to return home later in the day.

In photos sent to the media by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, formerly an aide to Duterte, the president is seen using a cane while in Japan.

“While this was unforeseeable, the public can rest assured that there is nothing to worry about regarding the physical health and condition of the president as he gives serious priority to actively serving our country,” Panelo said.

Duterte, 74, fell off a motorcycle inside the compound of the presidential palace. An avid motorcyclist, he later appeared at a public engagement and dismissed the accident as minor.

The president had complained of spinal pain two years ago and the fall likely aggravated that condition, his aides said.

Duterte suffers from several ailments. He recently admitted he was afflicted with myasthenia gravis, a muscular weakness in his eyelids and face.

He has also said that he suffers from Barrett’s esophagus, a condition marked by an abnormality in the lining of the lower esophagus, and Buerger’s disease which leads to pain caused by constriction of blood vessels in his arms and legs.

The president’s staff has resisted calls to issue periodic medical bulletins, stressing Duterte is in good condition to run the country even as he has conditions similar to any person his age.


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