Duterte on 5-day absence: I had to go on a secret trip

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) — After five days away from the limelight, President Rodrigo Duterte returned to the public eye when he attended engagements in Mindanao on June 17.

In an ambush interview after his visit to a military camp in Butuan City, Duterte explained why he had been keeping a low profile.

"The truth is I went out of town for a visit somewhere else," he said. "Hindi ko masabi sa inyo. But I traveled like a private citizen para lang makaabot doon sa gusto kong puntahan."

[Translation: I could not tell you. But I traveled like a private citizen so that I could get to where I wanted to go.]

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on June 12 that Duterte would not make it to the Independence Day celebration in Luneta Park in Manila due to "exhaustion." Vice President Leni Robredo led the ceremonies.

Read: 'Exhausted' Duterte skips Independence Day rites

On the eve of freedom day, Duterte honored fallen Marines in the Marawi City fire fight.

"That's why he's resting. Hindi siya nagpilit magising kasi napakahirap na dalawa, tatlong oras lang tulog mo... It's just that he's not feeling well. Puyat na puyat, pagod. Nothing to worry about," Abella said.

[Translation: That's why he's resting. He wasn't forced to wake up because it's hard when you've only had two, three hours of sleep. He's not feeling well, he lacks sleep, he's tired. Nothing to worry about.]

Abella added on June 15 that Duterte was enjoying "private time" and that the public should not be concerned with his health.

Read: Duterte's health not a cause for worry – Malacañang

On the same day, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go released photos of the President working at Bahay ng Pagbabago — or the presidential residence inside Malacañang Palace — before going to Davao City.

In Butuan, Duterte described a scenario in case something happens to him.

"'Pag ‘di pa gani ninyo ako makita ng limang araw, eh patay na ‘yan, so use your Robredo," he said. "Anong problema ninyo? Kung hindi ako lumabas, in coma or whatever the speculation is, then if it’s about a month, sabihin mo na, “O, time for change.”

[Translation: If you haven't seen me for five days, and I die, so use your (Vice President) Robredo. What's your problem? If I don't come out because I'm in a coma or whatever the speculation is, then if it's about a month, you can say, "Oh, time for change."]

President's health issues

Duterte has admitted he suffers from daily migraines — prompting him to miss some appointments — and Buerger's disease.

The disease, which is usually found in heavy cigarette and tobacco smokers, constricts blood vessels. It causes veins and arteries to swell, producing clots that block blood from reaching extremities.

In severe cases, the disorder may cause extreme pain. Left unchecked, Buerger's disease may lead to skin damage, infection, and in severe cases, gangrene.

Duterte also said he uses an oxygen converter when sleeping because his brain suffers from lack of oxygenation.

Read: Duterte: I need additional oxygen to breathe better when sleeping

Under the Constitution, the public shall be informed of the state of the health of the President in case of serious illness.