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Chinese new year: Duterte spent first week of 2017 in Guangzhou’s Fuda Cancer Hospital – report

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Contrary to Malacañang’s claim, President Rodrigo Duterte was neither in Manila nor Davao from Dec. 31 until January 5 to take a break from the rigors of running the country, former senator Francisco Tatad has claimed.

Citing “a chain of usually reliable sources,” Tatad said in his Jan. 9 Manila Times column that Duterte flew to China from Davao towards the end of 2016 on a private executive plane “for a meeting with doctors at the world-famous Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), Guangdong Province.”

While the former senator stopped short of saying the information he got was 100 percent accurate, he said people he approached to verify the tip “were shocked that I was able to get my hands on the report.”

Duterte was last seen in the public eye in 2016 on Dec. 30 during the commemoration of Rizal Day at Luneta and his subsequent visit to the victims of an explosion in Hilongos, Leyte.

He surfaced again on Jan. 5, 2017 when he and other Palace officials were photographed seated at the economy class section of a Manila-bound Philippine Airlines flight from Davao.

Prior to his return to Manila, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella told the Philippine Star that Duterte was “on ‘extended private time’” but cannot say where exactly the President was.

“I am not entirely sure,” he said, “but I think he spent the latter part of the holidays here in Manila.”

Another source quoted by the Star in a report published Jan. 2 said the President was in Davao since the night of Dec. 30 to rest.

Questions have been raised about Duterte’s health despite his admission of having frequent migraine attacks and a slipped disc. He said he is also afflicted with Barrett’s esophagus, an ailment defined by the Mayo Clinic as involving the replacement of the esophagus’ tissue by tissues similar to the intestinal lining.

There were rumors he fainted twice in November last year— once during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru, and another in Malacañang.