OK to treat Arroyo as out-patient, says doc

Paterno Esmaquel II
[UPDATED] Court hears petition for the transfer of the ex-President to a regular jail

OUT-PATIENT TREATMENT. Spine surgery expert Dr Antonio Sison says former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may receive out-patient treatment.

MANILA, Philippines – A spine surgery expert from the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) testified on Friday, February 3, that detained former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may be treated as an out-patient despite her physical therapy needs.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr Antonio Sison said this during a hearing at the Pasay Regional Trial Court on a motion by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to transfer Arroyo to a regular jail.

Initially, Sison said it is “better” to keep Arroyo in a regular hospital due to her daily physical therapy requirements, which include heat therapy and electrical stimulation.

The prosecution, however, grilled Sison on whether such therapy may be done outside the hospital with Arroyo as an out-patient. “I think so,” Sison said.

Sison also said portable machines are available for Arroyo’s physical therapy for her condition, which, in layman’s terms, is osteoarthritis.

The hearing on the Comelec’s motion to transfer Arroyo to a regular jail will resume next Thursday, February 9.

Arroyo is under hospital arrest at VMMC after Pasay RTC Judge Jesus Mupas ordered her arrest on Dec 18, 2011, in connection with alleged electoral sabotage.

‘Mahirap magsalita diyan’

In an interview with reporters after the hearing, however, Sison said the issue is not yet resolved even if he confirmed the possibility of out-patient treatment for Arroyo. “The court will decide on that,” he said.

When asked what he meant when he said “I think so” on the possibility of out-patient treatment, Sison said, “Mahirap magsalita diyan. Everything is possible kasi eh. Depende na sa disposition ng judge, ng korte.” (It’s difficult to speak on that… It depends on the disposition of the judge, the court.)

Her condition is not as simple as other people think, he said. “May mga different medical conditions pa siya,” Sison noted, without mentioning specifics.

He also cited the difficulty, in terms of security, of transporting her to the hospital for daily treatment.

Most Filipinos think government is “only fair” in treating Mrs Arroyo, according to a Social Weather Stations survey for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Pro-Arroyo rally

Meanwhile, around 500 protesters gathered outside the Pasay RTC to express support for the former president. Her son, Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep Mikey Arroyo, joined the gathering.

OUTSIDE RTC. Supporters of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hold a rally during the hearing. Photo by Geneve Guyano

Coming from different parts of Metro Manila, Arroyo supporters raised placards with statements of support as they waited for the hearing to end.

Observers in the area who had seen similar protests, however, had qualms about the motivations of those who joined the gathering.

Protesters stressed their support for Arroyo, however. “Basta kami, kusa kaming pumunta rito. Sumusuporta lang kami sa kanya,” said Montalban resident Susan Midello. (We came here voluntarily. We are simply supporting her.)

Hindi naman lahat ng tao ay talagang bayaran,” another protester from Novaliches said. “Meron din naman sigurong nabayaran, pero supporter.” (Not everyone here got paid. Some may have been, but are nonetheless supporters.) – With reports from Geneve Guyano/Rappler.com




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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.