Palace says Duterte's muscle disease not a cause for concern

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace says Duterte's muscle disease not a cause for concern
President Rodrigo Duterte receives a warm round of applause from the members of his delegation as he prepares to deliver his speech during his meeting with the Filipino community at the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy in Moscow on Oct. 5, 2019.
King Rodriguez / Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's admission that he has a neuromuscular disease is not a cause for concern, Malacañang said Monday, as it expressed amazement that the 74-year-old leader was able to survive his hectic trip to Russia.

Last week, Duterte revealed that he has myasthenia gravis, a nerve malfunction that he said he inherited from his grandfather.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo downplayed the president's disease, saying myasthenia gravis is a usual health condition of the elderly.

"It's an ordinary disease of the elderly. You will have that once you grow old," Panelo told ABS-CBN News.

READ: Duterte claims he has rare disorder causing his eyelids to droop and muscle to weaken

Asked whether the president's neuromuscular disease should worry the public, Panelo replied: "I don't think so."

"You have seen his punishing schedule right? I’m even amazed how he was able to survive this Russian trip," he added.

On its website, the US National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke said myasthenia gravis is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles, which are responsible for breathing and moving parts of the body, including the arms and legs.  

READ: 'Invisible' Duterte busy with meetings, paperwork

Panelo said he sometimes blames the presidential protocol office for the president's hectic schedule.

"Even the president complains, 'Papatayin ninyo ba ako (Are you going to kill me)?'" the presidential spokesman said.

Duterte previously admitted suffering from acute bronchitis, a migraine related to a spinal injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident in the 1960s, and Buerger’s disease, an illness connected to smoking. Despite the president's health condition, officials claim he is still healthy and capable of performing his functions.

Duterte's health made headlines anew last week after he failed to attend the change of command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo because he was not feeling well.

In a press briefing upon his arrival from Russia last Sunday, Duterte admitted he was nursing a "very bad" case of cold. Panelo said the president remains in good condition.

"He (Duterte) was well, when he met the reporters. He was up and about," Panelo said. 

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