‘The Punisher’ reveals his sad demise


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has revealed he has a chronic neuromuscular disorder - an auto-immune disease that leads to skeletal muscle weakness.

The hard-line leader, who's known as "The Punisher" for his infamous approach to tackling drug dealing, made the revelation after he was mocked on social media over his appearance last week.

The firebrand leader is known for a busy schedule and for giving long speeches, often several a day.

However, commenters cracked jokes after pictures showed him looking dishevelled in a meeting with the Russian Prime Minister last week.

This came after wide public speculation about the 74-year-old's health.

There have been times when the bombastic President has been out of the public eye for days, leading to headlines about his whereabouts and even rumours of his death.

On Saturday, during a visit to Russia, he made a joke about not being able to look straight at a woman he danced with at an event in Moscow.

It was then he revealed he suffered from a disorder called myasthenia gravis that makes one of his eyelids droop.

"I have a talent," Mr Duterte said, according to official transcripts provided by his office afterwards. "When I look at you, my other eye droops. Do you see? The other eye is smaller. It goes where it wants.

"Actually, that's myasthenia gravis," he added. "It's a nerve malfunction."

Mr Duterte said his grandfather had also had the disease, adding, "So I believe, really, in genetics."

There has been vast speculation over Mr Duterte’s health. Picture: AP
There has been vast speculation over Mr Duterte’s health. Picture: AP

His latest comments could raise more questions about the state of his health.

Mr Duterte's known ailments include back problems, migraines due to nerve damage after a motorcycle accident and Barrett's oesophagus, which affects his throat.

He also suffers from Buerger's disease, caused by his heavy smoking in younger days, which can cause blockages in the blood vessels.

Last October, Mr Duterte underwent a colonoscopy, a procedure to check the health of the rectum and lower bowel, which officials said the President does yearly.

The Philippine Constitution mandates that the public must be informed of the state of the President's health in case he has a serious illness.

Under Philippine laws, if a sitting president dies in office, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president takes over and serves the remaining years in a six-year, single term.

Mr Duterte has made global headlines for his hard-line approach on drug dealing.

After sweeping to power in 2016, he promised to kill 100,000 drug dealers and criminals within six months of coming to power.

Human rights groups expressed alarm at the move, calling it a war on the poor that may constitute crimes against humanity.