Napoles averse to confinement in government hospital

Napoles' lawyer says she had a 'bad experience' at the Camp Crame General Hospital which had outdated facilities

OUTDATED? Napoles' lawyers say their client is averse to getting surgery and being confined at any government hospital because of her "bad experience" at the Camp Crame General Hospital. File photo courtesy of the PNP PIO

MANILA, Philippines – Why is the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind averse to getting surgery and being confined in any government facility?

The lawyer of Janet Lim Napoles said it’s because of her “bad experience” at a government hospital during her last medical examination. Napoles last week filed a motion for medical surgery and hospital confinement to remove a myoma in her uterus.

Unlike a previous motion regarding her health, Napoles made it explicit in this one that she did not want to be confined in a public hospital. (READ: Why it’s St. Lukes or bust for Napoles)

Speaking to reporters after the hearing for the motion on Tuesday, March 11, special counsel Bruce Rivera said Napoles was taken aback by the facilities – or lack of them – in the Camp Crame General Hospital.

“When she arrived there she noted that the facilities… it was a 2D ultrasound. Yung 2D, throwback na yan eh. When she arrived, she noted the facilities were a little bit outdated,” he said.

Last month, Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 granted Napoles’ motion for medical examination but with a catch – she would be taking her medical exams at the Camp Crame General Hospital, and not at St Luke’s as she had requested.

Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna, for allegedly detaining aide-turned-pork-barrel-scam-whistleblower Benhur Luy from December 2012 to March 2013. Napoles also faces plunder charges for allegedly siphoning off lawmakers’ pork barrel funds through bogus non-governmental organizations. 

Poor facilities?

Napoles headed to the Crame hospital on February 26 to find out the cause of her “hypoglycemia, drastic weight loss, chest pains, severe abdominal pains, and profuse menstrual bleeding.”

Testifying before the Makati court, PNP ob-gynecologist Police Chief Inspector Michelle Daguno said they found a myoma in Napoles’ uterus. Her uterus at the time of the exam, said Daguno, was the same size as that of a woman 3 1/2 months pregnant.

It was revealed during the hearing that the transvaginal ultrasound used during Napoles’ exam had to be rented by the Crame hospital. Daguno explained that while the National Capital Region’s Health Services Office had a transvaginal ultrasound machine, time constraints forced them to instead rent a 2D transvaginal ultrasound machine from the PNP’s health service provider.

Chief Superintendent Alejandro Advincula, PNP Director for Health Services, said the rental set the PNP back by P5,000. PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac, meanwhile, said the exams at the Crame hospital cost around P3,000.  

Rivera told reporters Daguno’s testimony only proves the shortcomings of the Crame hospital. “The general mode now is a 4D ultrasound so you know the location and the size. In a 4D ultrasound, you would know,” he said.

Napoles is asking the court to let her undergo open surgery, a laparoscopic surgery, or even a total hysterectomy to remove the myoma in her uterus. Her lawyers said it’s the mass that’s been causing Napoles’ pain and profuse menstrual bleeding.

Daguno said pain suffered by those with a myoma can range from “tolerable to severe” during menstruation.

Other options

Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati RTC Branch 150, however, was left with more questions on Tuesday, the second hearing day for the motion. Alameda ordered the defense to bring a doctor to prove the urgency of the procedure. Rivera, however, said the issue is not the urgency, but the necessity of the procedure. 

Rivera said should the court decide, they would also be open to other private hospitals. Addressing concerns over the cost of transferring Napoles from her detention center in Laguna to Manila, Rivera said they were open to having the surgery done at the nearby South Luzon Medical Center, prompting Makati prosecutor Chris Garvida to quip: “If her concern is distance, she should be returned to the Makati City Jail, it’s closer to her favorite hospital.”

The Philippine National Police earlier told reporters that each trip from Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna to Manila costs approximately P120,000. Napoles has left her detention center thrice since surrendering – to testify before the Senate, for her arraignment, and for her medical examination in Crame.

Rivera added that they are not asking government to shoulder the cost of Napoles’ medical procedures, and that her family and friends are raising funds for her surgery

With Alameda left unconvinced, another hearing date has been scheduled on March 18. Napoles’ trial proper for her serious illegal detention case is also scheduled on the same date. –

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