Manila (AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, 74, admitted in an interview broadcast Sunday that years were beginning to weigh on his health, at the moment his absences fuel all speculation.

Mr. Duterte shortened a trip to Japan in October because of "unbearable pain" in the spine after a motorcycle accident. He has not spoken in public for two weeks.

The Philippine president had hurt his hip by falling from motorcycle in mid-October, about ten days after revealing that he suffered from autoimmune myasthenia, a neuromuscular disease that can lead to serious complications and that manifests itself already at home with eye disorders.

"If you ask me: + Are you in the best shape? + Of course not," said Duterte Friday in an interview with GMA News.

"All these health problems, I have them because I'm old, the years are beginning to weigh on my health," said the oldest Filipino to be elected president.

These incidents fueled questions about Mr. Duterte's ability to govern. His spokesman Salvador Panelo swept them away by refusing to broadcast medical bulletins on the health of the head of state.

He decided for a week to work from Davao, his southern archipelago town, rather than Manila, said Panelo.

Mr. Duterte has not spoken in public since a regional summit in Thailand that ended on November 4, shortly after cutting his trip to Thailand, during which he used a cane.

The head of state has often mentioned his health problems, explaining that this was the reason for his absence from meetings and summits abroad.

In October 2018, he declared that he was waiting for the results of a cancer screening, before announcing several days later that the examinations were negative.

He had also discussed his migraines and revealed that he was suffering from Buerger's disease that affects the veins and arteries and is usually due to smoking.

President Duterte also revealed in 2016 that he was taking fentanyl, a powerful analgesic, because of a spinal injury already contracted in a motorcycle accident.

© 2019 AFP