Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visits Hong Kong for weekend getaway, one day after hinting at health problems

Photos posted on Facebook by his special assistant showed the leader and his family shopping and having a meal in Causeway Bay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 12:23am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2018, 1:52pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is in Hong Kong, and spent Saturday night shopping and having a meal in Causeway Bay with his family and security detail, according to photos posted by his special assistant on Facebook.

Before his unannounced trip, Duterte revealed to military generals that he had another endoscopy and colonoscopy on Wednesday in order to obtain “samples”.

In the televised speech on Thursday night, he added: “I will tell you if it’s cancer”.

A senior Hong Kong government source told the Post that Duterte and his party arrived on Friday night and the 73-year-old president was staying at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Wan Chai. Police had stepped up patrols around the area.

“He and his family members will leave the city by Sunday evening. They came here for a holiday and will have no official events,” the source said.

Another person with knowledge of the matter said Duterte had no meetings with Hong Kong officials scheduled.

Duterte’s special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go posted photos on Facebook just after 10pm on Saturday night, showing himself posing with the leader, his long-time partner Honeylet Avancena, the couple’s daughter Veronica and security escorts.

Go included a line saying he was posting the photos to be ahead of fake news.

‘If it’s cancer, it’s cancer’: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hints at health problems after undergoing medical tests

The group looked to be in the Causeway Bay area.

On Friday, the president’s spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte would let the public know if he had a serious illness, once he got the results from doctors.

“The result of the examination, whether or not it can be made public will depend on what they find out,” Roque told a news briefing, citing a provision in the Philippine constitution on public disclosure of the president’s health conditions.

“The president is not inclined to hide anything about his health. I assure the public, the president will not hide anything. If it is serious, he will inform the nation.”

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When asked whether the president was dying, Roque said: “I don’t think so”.

Duterte has had a habit of disappearing from public view without any explanation. Go would normally say he is taking “private time”.

But in mid-August, reporters noticed a dark blotch spreading on his face.

He claimed his skin condition was caused by him going up and down mountains and not using cosmetics because they tended to “melt”.

However, reporters have of late noticed he has been using a heavy skin foundation.

Roque blamed the splotches on the president “not wearing powder”, which he usually does.

When Duterte went to Israel in early September and the dark blotches on his face became more marked, the president said he had forgotten to rub ointment.

At that time, Israeli journalist Neri Zilber noticed that Duterte’s schedule had “massive holes”. Zilber said he had initially dismissed comments to him by Filipinos on Twitter.

“Almost everyone believed it’s a cover for medical treatment. Dismissed conspiracy theories until I looked at official schedule again. Massive holes during the four days.”

Go denied this, saying: “There is no truth to it. I assure you he is in tip-top condition. He can finish his term up to 2022 and live beyond. For those who speak or think ill of him, I will just pray for you here in Jerusalem. Jesus is on our side always.”

Rumours over Duterte’s ill health persisted after he disappeared once more at the height of Typhoon Mangkhut in mid-September.