Duterte suffering from muscle spasms but can work, says spokesman

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) – A medical check-up showed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is suffering from painful muscle spasms that prompted him to cut short a trip to Japan, a spokesman said yesterday.

Duterte was feeling better but was advised by his doctor to rest and take painkillers to relieve him of the discomfort from lower back muscle spasms, which may have been caused or aggravated by an accidental motorcycle fall last week and another similar accident years ago, spokesman Salvador Panelo said. The doctor ruled out the need for any surgical procedure, Panelo said. Panelo said the President would still meet Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua yesterday to discuss Chinese financing of infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

“Despite the President’s somewhat impaired physical profile, he will continue to perform his presidential duties, which include attending to local and foreign engagements in the following days, with the same passion and dedication, in obedience to the constitutional command to serve and protect the Filipino people,” Panelo said. Duterte’s latest health problem went public when he cut short his trip earlier this week to Japan, where he attended Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony in Tokyo but had to skip two banquets, which were attended instead by his daughter, Sara Duterte.

Duterte at times used a cane and appeared to be in pain while in Tokyo. Duterte said last year that he suffers from “perpetual pain” due to a spinal injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident years ago.

He has also acknowledged using Fentanyl, an opioid used to treat chronic pain.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the Imperial Palace to attend the proclamation ceremony of Japan’s Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne in Tokyo. PHOTO: AFP