VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Duterte’s oxygen concentrator

Photo from ABS-CBN News, an image released by Malacanang, courtesy of Duterte’s son-in-law Manases Carpio

Photos of President Rodrigo Duterte showing a blue contraption beside his bed in his residence in Davao City surfaced online on his birthday on March 28.

The president, who had just turned 72, clarified he has been using an oxygen concentrator. Then a day after his birthday, during his speech at the People’s Day celebration in Oriental Mindoro, Duterte said he uses it whenever he sleeps.

He mentioned the same reason in his speech during the oath-taking of newly elected officials of the Philippine Councilors’ League in Malacanang on March 30.Duterte said:

Kagaya nung picture sa— yung birthday ko, kasi na-picturan iyong kuwarto ko, may converter sa oxygen, karami na namang ano.
Di ba sinabi ko sa inyo,
I never lied. Tinanong ako doon sa debates, anong sakit mo? Sabi ko, Barrett dito, sa inom pati ano; Buerger’s because of smoking. So, ang circulation ko, hindi maganda, lack of oxygenation. Kaya pati pagtulog ko, nakasaksak ako. If you want to remain beautiful, use it, it’s good. (laughter) Totoo. That’s— sabi ng mga doctor. Sabi ng mga doctor, use it. Kasi kung babae ka, para gumanda ka lalo, mas maraming temptasyon. (laughter)

Ako, gagamitin ko iyon, kasi ang brain ko daw, suffers lack of oxygenation. Matagal ko nang ginamit iyan. When I said that— wala akong tinago eh. Nakita nila iyong parang oxygen, it’s not really an oxygen, it’s a converter. Wala man akong tinago?”

(That photo was taken in my room showing an oxygen concentrator. I never lied. I was asked during the debates what my illness was — I said Barrett or Buerger’s disease because of smoking. So my blood circulation is not good. That’s why even when I sleep, this concentrator is plugged in. They say I’ve been using a long time. I’ve never kept anything from the public.)

(Source: RTVM, Oath Taking of Appointed Officials and Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Officers, Malacanan Palace, March 30, 2017, watch from 33:26 to 34:37)


What is an oxygen concentrator?

An electronically operated medical device that provides purified oxygen to those who require it.

Oxygen is needed by living organism to convert nutrients to energy.

What is it for?

It is prescribed to patients suffering from chronic oxygen deficiencies such as severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disease that causes difficulty in breathing due to longtime smoking.

It is also for those with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which happens when fluid builds up in the lungs causing breathing failure and low oxygen in the blood.

Others with pneumonia and lung cancer also use it to aid them in breathing.

It is also sometimes prescribed to a person with sleep apnea.

How does it work?

It pumps indoor air into a container, separates oxygen from the room air, and concentrates it to provide oxygen to the user.

Unlike an oxygen tank, which has a set amount of oxygen, a concentrator continuously provides air as long as it is plugged to a power source.

A nasal cannula is attached to the oxygen outlet of the device to deliver oxygen into the nostrils.

But in recent years portable oxygen concentrators have been introduced so that patients can still move and work freely.

Can one purchase oxygen concentrator without a prescription?

No. Oxygen is a medicine that needs doctor’s prescription. Even oxygen flow rate needs to be determined by a doctor.


Medical Device Group Control Office (MDCO), Department of Health, Hong Kong, Oxygen Concentrator

Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxygen Concentrator

World Health Organization (WHO), Technical Specifications for Oxygen Concentrators

WebMD, Oxygen therapy

United States Patent, Medical Oxygen Concentrator

United States Patent, Portable Oxygen Concentrator

ABS-CBN, Duterte explains ‘oxygen converter’ in bedroom, Duterte admits using oxygen concentrator while sleeping

GMA News Online, Duterte says he sleeps with an oxygen concentrator