Duterte uses oxygen 'converter' to sleep

SLEEP AID. What appears to be an oxygen concentrator can be seen beside President Duterte's bed in Davao City.

Photo from Manases Carpio

To help him sleep well despite his respiratory problems, President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he uses a contraption to improve his "oxygenation."

He first spoke about this himself on Wednesday, March 29, during a long speech in Oriental Mindoro.

"Iyong pinost diyan sa ano – ‘yung oxygen ko. Kasi kung matulog ako, ganoon lang, ‘yung oxygenation ko hindi maganda because of smoking," he told the crowd.

(What they posted there – that's for my oxygen. Because when I sleep, my oxygenation is not good because of smoking.)

He was on the subject of his health condition, as he had just turned a year older the day before, Tuesday, March 28.

"I’m 72 yesterday. I cannot eat na gusto ko. Sabihin naman, cholesterol mataas (I cannot eat what I want. They will say again, my cholesterol is high)," he shared.

In photos shared by his family, which captured his grandchildren's visit to his Davao City home on his birthday, what appeared to be an oxygen concentrator could be seen beside his bed. 

Duterte referred to the machine as an oxygen "converter" in another speech on Thursday, March 30, before his latest appointees in Malacañang.

He explained how he uses the gadget: "Ang circulation ko, 'pag natulog ako, nakasaksak ako (My circulation, when I sleep, I'm plugged into it)."

The President was apparently referring to an oxygen concentrator, a device that concentrates oxygen from a source, usually ambient area, to provide a steady supply of oxygen.

Its medical uses include treatment of those suffering from sleep apnea (pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep), emphysema, or other respiratory ailments.

The President, who insists he has been transparent about his health condition, said he has been using the oxygen "converter" for a long time.

"Ako, gagamitin ko 'yun kasi ang brain ko raw suffers lack of oxygen. Matagal ko na ginamit 'yan. Wala akong tinago," he said.

(Me, I use it because my brain suffers from lack of oxygen. I've been using that for a long time. I never hid anything.)

Duterte has admitted to other illnesses related to his past smoking habit: Buerger's Disease, Barrett's Esophagus, and GERD. (READ: LIST: 'Migraine everyday' and Duterte's other ailments)

Buerger's Disease is a rare condition involving the constriction of blood vessels in the arms and legs, blocking blood flow. 

Barrett's Esophagus is a complication of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Smoking is a risk factor. In people with GERD, stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus which is not protected from the acid the stomach produces.

Duterte, who learned the ill effects of smoking the hard way, says this is why he is determined to implement stricter regulations on smoking.

"That is why in the coming months, we will be implementing the no smoking law in the Philippines. You can only smoke if you are in the open sea, at least 5 kilometers from the coastal shores," he said, half in jest, in Mindoro Oriental on Wednesday.

He is poised to sign the Executive Order banning smoking in public areas. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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