Duterte injured in bike accident
MANILA (Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Mr. Duterte’s lifelong passion for motorcycles has left him with permanent nerve damage in his neck, and frequent migraines, among numerous ailments that ensure his health and his disappearances from the public eye are often the subject of fervent speculation.
President Rodrigo Duterte was slightly injured in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday night, but the 74-year-old fan of big bikes was all right, senior officials reported on Thursday.
Mr. Duterte’s lifelong passion for motorcycles has left him with permanent nerve damage in his neck, and frequent migraines, among numerous ailments that ensure his health and his disappearances from the public eye are often the subject of fervent speculation.
Wednesday night’s accident came 10 days after Mr. Duterte disclosed he was suffering from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease that could potentially have serious complications.
Senior officials gave two versions of the accident.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who was with Mr. Duterte at the time, said the President fell off a motorcycle at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) compound.
The PSG initially said the President was riding a three-wheel bike and did not fall at all.
“He didn’t fall off. One of the tires hit a rock while [he] was exiting the garage. It’s a trike, three-wheeled motorcycle, so he didn’t fall off. He was driving slowly while exiting the garage,” said Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra, the PSG commander.
Later, the PSG said the President figured in two accidents on Wednesday night, and that the accident involving the three-wheeled motorcycle was the first incident.
In the second incident, Niembra said Mr. Duterte switched to a big bike, completed two rounds inside the compound, and lost his balance after he came to a stop and one of his shoes got caught in a gear of the motorcycle.
‘Safe, in good hands’
In a statement, Panelo said Mr. Duterte had parked a bike and fell off while reaching for his shoe.
“The President was reaching for his shoe when he fell off his motorcycle that resulted in a minor injury, particularly light bruises and slight scratches, to his elbow and knee,” he said.
“I would like to assure the nation that the President is safe, in good hands and in good health,” Panelo said.
He later declined to explain why there were two versions of the accident, stressing: “Whatever the story is, what is important is he is in good hands—no major injury.”
Go, a former aide to Mr. Duterte, said he and the President had just returned from the wake of Miguel Barretto in Taguig City when the leader decided to test two motorcycles.
He said Mr. Duterte rode the first bike around the PSG compound and finished without incident.
But the second motorcycle, a 650-cc sport and dirt bike, was bigger and higher than the first one, and the President, Go said, fell off as he was going back to the Malago club house.
Mr. Duterte, however, managed to use his elbow to keep himself from completely falling flat to the ground, Go said.
“His hip was sore,” Go said, adding that the President was limping after the accident, though he claimed he was fine.
Everybody had been worried, he said.
“The President would not show it if he was hurting. He would say, ‘I am OK,’” Go said.
The senator later shared a video showing Mr. Duterte, wearing formal clothes—without a helmet or other protective gear—riding a Kawasaki Vulcan bike on a paved drive at night.
The actual accident was not shown in the clip.
Go said he had suggested to the President to just ride a scooter next time, but Mr. Duterte was really passionate about motorcycles.
“You know, he’s been a motorcycle enthusiast for 31 years. He told me last night, ‘I cannot stop riding motorcycles,’” Go said.
Months after taking office in 2016, Mr. Duterte spoke of his sadness at having to forfeit his beloved motorcycles and heed the instructions of his security staff to steer clear of bikes.
He has boasted of having reached speeds of 180 kilometers per hour and of owning a Yamaha, a Honda and a Harley Davidson.