“If such ailments were the bases for Reyes’ hospitalization, then 50 ailing political prisoners should be accorded the same.- Selda
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Human rights defenders assailed the swift hospitalization of Lucila Jessica “Gigi” Reyes purportedly because of anxiety attack, dyspepsia, and hypertension. Reyes was initially confined at the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital and then transferred to the Philippine Heart Center even without a court order.
“Based on our experience, it takes at least a month for the court to process our motion for a medical check-up. What happened to Andrea Rosal and her daughter Diona is still fresh in our collective memory,” Roneo Clamor, spokesman of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), said.
“If such ailments were the bases for Reyes’ hospitalization, then 50 ailing political prisoners should be accorded the same. Most of them are elderly, too,” said Clamor.
Clamor said whether Reyes’ sickness is true or imagined, her “swift hospitalization without need of a court order is another showcase of the government’s soft spot for those accused of plunder.”
Reyes, the former legislative chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, is among those charged with plunder in the infamous pork barrel scam.
On July 9, the Sandiganbayan Third Division ordered Reyes’ transfer to the female dormitory of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Camp Bagong Diwa (CBD). Reyes arrived at the CBD at 11 pm on July 9 and reportedly had a panic attack upon learning that she would share a detention cell with nine alleged members of the New People’s Army.
Ailing political detainees
Several political prisoners, Clamor said, have died in jail because of lack of medical attention. In their statement, Selda named several political prisoners who are in need of medical attention:
Benny Barid, who is suffering from chronic asthma and has been in and out of the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) Infirmary. He needs a wheelchair to move around and cannot stand up by himself.
Rolando Pañamogan who was admitted twice in 2009 at the NBP Infirmary and at the Philippine General Hospital. He was diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction and pneumonia related to tuberculosis. Shortly after recovering from the said illnesses, Pañamogan was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and diabetes.
The Alegre couple, Jesus and Moreta, who are both in their late 60s and are languishing in jail for almost 10 years now. Both are suffering from hypertension and arthritis.
Gerardo dela Peña, 75, has poor eyesight and hearing. He is detained at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) Reception and Diagnostic Center, awaiting transfer to the NBP Maximum Security Compound.
Ramon Argente underwent triple heart bypass operation in 2013. After the surgery, he was brought back to the PNP Custodial Center and continues to experience difficulty in breathing and chest pains.
Roy Erecre, consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, is also detained at Bohol District Jail. He is diagnosed with venous insufficiency, peripheral arterial disease and diabetes.
Andrea Rosal, whose murder and kidnapping charges were recently dismissed, continues to languish at the CBD female dormitory as she awaits the dismissal of another murder case in a court in Mauban, Quezon. Rosal was seven months pregnant when arrested. On May 17, she gave birth to Diona Andrea who died the following day. Rosal was brought back to the CBD.
Another arrested pregnant activist, Maria Miradel Torres was bleeding when she was brought to CBD but she needed to secure a court order to be confined at the Taguig Pateros District Hospital.
A human rights lawyer slammed Reyes’ hysteria and hospitalization.
“If her attack is contrived or feigned, then this is comical. If real, then by all means, let a doctor see her and give her immediate, necessary and appropriate medical care. But the hoity-toity are not the only children of a greater god. We really need to hold a medical convention of experts to validate the direct correlation between detention and worrisome illnesses and health disorders that affect only the rich and famous,” Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said.
Olalia said, Reyes’ panic attack “is out of touch with reality and seems delusional.”
“If she sees her own demons in the company of principled, rational and honorable women political prisoners she pejoratively labels as NPAs all, then she should really seek some professional help. They should not be the ones in jail in the first place,” he added.
Olalia said, “there are scores of poor and destitute, many charged with lesser or petty crimes, literally languishing inside jails; yet this government couldn’t care any less. Dirt-poor creatures like pregnant Andrea Rosal had to go through undeserved perdition because she is no Gigi Reyes, well-coiffed aristocrat on pedestals used to a life of comfort if not ostentation like her former principal who has spurned her just like that to save his own skin.”
Olalia said that the people Reyes “disdains and looks down at could probably be the most level-headed, humane, merciful, and selfless people she could find.”
“She might even be enlightened about the proximate cause how jails become and are kept decrepit, filthy, infernal and squalid, though she fights tooth and nail to not even breathe the same air in these little hells,” he added.