'Unbearable' back pain forces Duterte to cut short Japan trip

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte decided to fly back to the Philippines right after attending Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony in Japan because of "unbearable pain" in his back, Malacañang announced on Tuesday, October 22.

"The Palace announces that the President will cut short his trip to Japan due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone as a consequence of his fall during his motorcycle ride last Thursday, October 17," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The 74-year-old leader is scheduled to see his neurologist on Wednesday "for consultation," added the spokesman. (READ: President's health: Touchy topic for Duterte, public concern for Constitution)

Duterte will fly back early evening on Tuesday instead of returning on Thursday, October 24, as originally scheduled.

He will miss the Emperor's banquet on Tuesday and the Prime Minister's Banquet on Wednesday, adding to his growing list of skipped events. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, his eldest daughter, will represent him at both events.

Duterte, aided by a cane, managed to attend the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace.

Panelo assured the public that "there is nothing to worry [about] as regards the physical health and condition of the President." (READ: LIST: 'Migraine everyday' and Duterte's other ailments)

Drooping eyelid

In a video shared by Go, Duterte appears on camera as the two are en route to the airport in Japan where they will depart for Manila.

The President's right eye was drooping and he looked tired as he addressed the Filipino people. 

"Alam mo, about 4 days ago, sumemplang ako sa motor. Pag nagmomotor ka once or twice sa buhay mo, makatikim ka talaga ng semplang. Lahat ng mga nagmomotor, sumesemplang. Kagaya sa akin, ang ano lang, parang hindi ko matiis," said Duterte before trailing off.

(You know, about 4 days ago, I fell from a motorcycle. When you ride a motorcycle once or twice in your life, you will really experience a fall. All motorcycle-riders, they fall. Like me, I just can't tolerate...)

"Yung sa belt banda, mga 3 inches, medyo masakit. Eh nag toothbrush ako kanina, pag gising ko kasi magkain –" he said before the video abruptly ended.

(By the belt, around 3 inches, it kind of hurts. I was brushing my teeth earlier, after I woke up because I ate –)

President Duterte appears with a drooping right eye and tired demeanor in the video shared by Senator Bong Go as they prepare to return to the Philippines. | Facebook screenshot pic.twitter.com/BSYtMhXbZt — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) October 22, 2019

Earlier, Duterte had also had a video call with his former wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, as shared by their daughter Sara.

Duterte, still wearing his suit then, supposedly said he needed to see a neurologist because his pain involved his spine but Zimmerman supposedly told him he needed to see an orthopedic spine specialist.

Photos from Malacañang showed Duterte all smiles prior to the enthronement ceremony. Some photos showed him holding the cane and even pointing his cane to the photographer.

GROUP PHOTO. Davao Cit Mayor Sar Duterte takes a photo with the presidential delegation to the enthronment of Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, on October 22, 2019. Her father holds a cane to support is aching back. Malacanang Photo

GROUP PHOTO. Davao Cit Mayor Sar Duterte takes a photo with the presidential delegation to the enthronment of Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, Japan, on October 22, 2019. Her father holds a cane to support is aching back.

Malacanang Photo

Less than a week before his Japan trip, Duterte figured in a motorcycle accident that supposedly caused just "minor injuries" like scratches on his elbows and bruises, and some hip pain.  Malacañang had earier brushed off the incident as nothing serious and that the President's "recovery entails no major medical procedure,"

The President had attended his official engagements after the motorbike mishap and even showed off one of his wounds to govenrment officials and businessmen during a business forum. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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