Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte does not have cancer, an official said on Tuesday, after the firebrand leader underwent a series of tests for the disease.
The public has been clamouring for information about Duterte’s health after the 73-year-old missed two official events last week.
“He disclosed to us that the result of the test was negative, the one where they took samples from his intestines,” Eduardo Ano, acting interior minister, told reporters.
Ano said Duterte made the disclosure during a cabinet meeting on Monday night. The president made an unscheduled visit to a hospital when doctors asked him to repeat digestive tract procedures three weeks after similar tests.
Duterte’s condition “is not serious” and will remain a confidential matter, his spokesman, Harry Roque, told a separate news briefing, declining either to confirm or deny Ano’s prior remarks.
“The president will abide by the Constitution, but because it is not serious, he will treat his medical condition as confidential,” he said. Roque declined to give details of the test results and Duterte’s health.
“Let us wait for his disclosure. Anything that is confidential can be waived by the person alone.”
Last Thursday, Duterte admitted he might have cancer, saying he underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Both tests aim to diagnose any abnormality in the digestive tract and colon.
“I don’t know where I’m now physically, but I have to wait for that. But I would tell you if it’s cancer, it’s cancer,” he said.
Duterte added “if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong the agony in this office or anywhere.”
The Constitution of the Philippines provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious. If the leader dies in office, becomes permanently disabled, or is removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve out the rest of a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, an opposition leader, was elected separately in 2016 and could fuel uncertainty in the succession process in a highly polarised political climate.
Duterte’s health was a constant source of speculation after he disappeared from public view for a week last year, but his aides dismissed rumours of his medical condition.
Over the weekend, Duterte was in Hong Kong with his partner and young daughter on an unannounced trip, with his special assistant Bong Go posting pictures of the family on social media.