Napoles pleads before Makati court: Nahihirapan na ako

Bea Cupin
(UPDATED) The alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam pleads for the court's mercy and says she has long been enduring pain

PLEA. Alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles makes a surprise appearance at a Makati regional trial court. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the country’s biggest corruption scandal to date, pleaded before a Makati court on Friday, March 21, to allow her to undergo surgery and confinement. 

Napoles, who is currently detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna, filed a motion to allow medical surgery and hospital confinement, to remove a myoma that was discovered in her uterus during medical exams at the Camp Crame General Hospital. 

But Napoles, who made a surprise appearance before the court today, said conflicting results from two different hospitals have caused her to worry. Speaking to Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 presiding Judge Elmo Alameda, Napoles said: “Sabi ng [Southern Luzon Medical Center], cancer. Sabi ng [Camp Crame General Hospital], myoma.” (The Southern Luzon Medical Center said cancer. Camp Crame General Hospital said myoma.)

Napoles had been complaining of “hypoglycemia, drastic weight loss, chest pains, severe abdominal pains, and profuse menstrual bleeding.” Earlier, Napoles asked the court to allow her to undergo a medical examination at St. Luke’s to figure out the cause of her medical woes.

She was allowed by the court to undergo medical examinations, but at the Camp Crame General Hospital.

Why St. Luke’s?

Her visit to Crame was a “bad experience,” according to her lawyers. During her plea, Napoles said Crame’s equipment was outdated. “Habang nag-eexam, ginaganyan pa namin yung machine,” said Napoles, pounding on a table. (When we were having the examination, we had to pound on the machine.)

Medical examinations taken prior to her Crame visit indicated a possible tumor in her ovaries and elevated CA 125 levels in her blood. CA 125 is a biomarker used to detect ovarian cancer.

“Matagal ko nang tinitiis yung sakit….Maawa naman po kayo,” added Napoles. (I’ve long endured the pain. Please have mercy.)

Napoles added that had she been allowed to undergo medical exams in St. Luke’s earlier, her suffering would have been put to a halt. “Sana kung dinala ako sa St. Luke’s matagal na natapos ito,” she said. (If I was brought to St Luke’s, this would have long ended.) 

Asked by Alameda why she wants surgery and confinement at St. Luke’s, Napoles said, “Nandoon po kasi yung doctor na may records. Yung nanay ko, namatay sa malpractice. Yung mga gamit po nila, ay modern….May tiwala kami sa gamit ng St. Luke’s.” (The doctors with my medical records are in St. Luke’s. My mother died from malpractice. The facilities in St. Luke’s are modern, we trust their facilities.) 

Friday is the fourth time Napoles’ motion was heard by Alameda. Previously, the defense presented several doctors to testify on the need for surgery and confinement. 

However, it was an expert witness who testified about Napoles’ need for medical attention, owing to her age. Contrary to earlier assertions by previous witnesses and her defense team, Makati Medical Center ob-gynecologist department chairman Dr Santiago del Rosario said myoma with bleeding “commands immediate attention, particularly a woman at middle age.”

At 50, Napoles’ severe bleeding could “introduce the risk of cancer.” Del Rosario added, “A delay [in diagnosis] could spell the difference between a cure and no cure.”

Her defense team had been saying Napoles’ condition was “not alarming” but a cause for concern. In the meantime, Napoles’ lawyers and attending physicians said she is taking medicine to manage her pain.

Hirap na po akong uminom ng tranquilizer, ng tramadol. Napakalakas po noon,” said Napoles. (I’m having a hard time taking tranquilizers, Tramadol. It’s very strong.) Tramadol is a strong type of painkiller used to ease moderate to severe pain.

However, it was an expert witness who said Napoles needed medical attention, owing to her age. 

Unexpected appearance

Napoles’ appearance before the Makati court came as a surprise, even to the prosecution. Faye Isaguirre Singson, special counsel for Napoles in her motion, said they requested the subpoena to summon Napoles late Thursday afternoon only. 

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Theodore Sindac said the PNP was notified of Napoles’ appearance only late in the evening. 

The infamous figure arrived at the Makati RTC at around 9:20 am, escorted by members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF). Dressed in a loose blue hoodie, Napoles had a visibly smaller entourage than her previous appearance before the court.

Napoles’ trips from the PNP SAF camp in Laguna to Manila has been criticized by many as an unnecessary expense for government. Sindac earlier told reporters each trip costs approximately P120,000. Her appearance on Friday is the fourth time Napoles has left the Laguna camp for Manila – for her arraignment, to testify before the Senate, and for her medical examination in Crame. (READ: Miriam: Probe excessive spending for Napoles)

Prosecutor Chris Garvida opposed Napoles’ appearance before the court, pointing out that Napoles had already waived the need for her appearance in previous motions. “Her appearance is irrelevant,” said Garvida.  

Garvida also objected to Napoles’ plea before the court. “[It is] unfair to the prosecution because we can’t even cross-examine her,” he said.

Alameda, however, denied Garvida’s objection and said Napoles’ plea will stay in the court records and will be considered part of her prayer in the motion. 

The hearing is still ongoing as of posting. Expected to testify are doctors and medical technicians who conducted Napoles’ medical examinations. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.