LEGAZPI CITY, 12July2014 — “Whether true or imagined sickness, Gigi Reyes’ swift hospitalization without need of a court order is another showcase of the government’s soft spot for those accused of plunder,” said Jigs Clamor, spokesperson of SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto).
“Nag-hysteria lang dinala na sa ospital,” was how prisoners at the female dorm of CBD described the brief stay of Reyes at the Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Reyes arrived at the CBD female dormitory at around 11:00 p.m. on July 9. “She did not even see her cell when Reyes went into hysterics.” She is now at the Taguig-Pateros Hospital, supposedly for anxiety attack, dyspepsia, heart problem and hypertension.
“If such ailment were the bases for Reyes’ hospitalization then the 50 other ailing political prisoners should be accorded the same. Most of them are elderly, too. Based on our experience, it takes at least a month for the court to process our motion for medical check-up. What happened to Andrea Rosal and her daughter Diona is still fresh in our collective memory,” Clamor said.
Several political prisoners died in jail because of inadequate, if not lack of medical attention. Despite persistent request of hospitalization, Allison Alcantara was only brought to the Philippine General Hospital when he went into coma. In September 2013, he died of fatal arrhythmia, sepsis and health-care associated pneumonia. Crisanto Fat also died of heart attack in September 2011.
Currently, SELDA has a long list of political prisoners who need proper medical attention. Among them are:
- Benny Barid – Pale and very thin, he is suffering from chronic asthma. After suffering from a series of asthma attacks, he has been in and out at the NBP Infirmary. He cannot stand up by himself and needs a wheelchair for mobility. Fellow political prisoners support his medical needs. His prolonged stay at the NBP Hospital makes him more vulnerable to various diseases.
- Rolando Pañamogan – In 2009, he was admitted twice, first at the NBP Hospital, and second at the Philippine General Hospital. He was diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction and pneumonia related to tuberculosis. He recovered from the said illnesses but was later diagnosed with hepatitis B and diabetes. His diabetes and asthma need more than first aid.
- The Alegre couple, Jesus and Moreta – both in their late 60s, are languishing in jail for almost 10 years now. The elderly couple’s imprisonment has made them sickly. Both are suffering from hypertension and arthritis. Moreta has a weak heart and moves very slowly. Their imprisonment has separated them from each other – Jesus and Selman are at the NBP Maximum Security Compound in Muntinlupa, while Moreta is at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City.
- Gerardo dela Peña is 75 years old. Despite his age, he was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment last year due to trumped-up charges of murder. After his arrest on March 2013, it took the court only 10 months to pin down Dela Peña. At his old age, his eyes are blurring. He also has poor hearing. He is detained at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) Reception and Diagnostic Center, awaiting transfer to the NBP Maximum Security Compound.
- Ramon Argente – had a triple heart bypass operation in 2013. After the surgery, he was brought back in detention at the PNP Custodial Center. He remains in a fragile condition, as he still experience difficulty in breathing and chest pains. Argente was undergoing medication when he was arrested. His health worsened while detained at the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail. It took six months before his motion for hospitalization was granted.