Prosecutors hit Gigi Reyes' doc for hospital transfer
MANILA, Philippines - Did the attending doctor of lawyer Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes disrespect the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in recommending Reyes' hospital transfer even without a court order?
In a motion filed Friday afternoon, July 18, the prosecutors asked the court to require Dr Anthony Lontoc to explain in writing why he should not be cited for contempt for instructing the July 11 transfer of Reyes from the Taguig Pateros District Hospital (TPDH) to the Philippine Heart Center (PHC).
"The latest Clinical Abstract dated July 11, 2014 issued by Dr Lontoc shows that his recommendation did not indicate any urgency or emergency which would warrant the immediate transfer of accused Reyes from TPDH to PHC," the motion read.
Prosecutors noted how Lontoc already informed Dr Manuel Chuachiaco, PHC executive director, as early as 3 pm on July 11 of the impending transfer. Chuachiaco, however, told Lontoc during their 3 pm conversation to secure an order from the court.
Without the order, Reyes was transferred from TPDH to the PHC at past 8 pm on July 11.
Reyes' 3-day hospital stay at the PHC was prompted by her persistent chest pains that were left unrelieved despite medication.
Earlier at 1 am on July 10, she was rushed from her detention at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) female dormitory at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to TPDH. Reyes suffered from panic attacks after barely two hours at the Taguig jail, where she was ordered detained.
Reyes' lawyer Anacleto Diaz said her hospital transfer was a simple recognition of "Reyes' basic human right to adequate medical treatment and care."
"It is regrettable that such compassionate, just and humane treatment given by the TPDH doctors and BJMP personnel to Atty. Reyes, who has in her favor the constitutionally-guaranteed right to presumption of innocence of the charges levelled against her, has been met with vitriolic criticism and un-Christian-like skepticism from some quarters as a form of special or preferential treatment," he said in a statement.
He thanked the TPDH doctors and the BJMP personnel who assisted in the transfer, citing their "compassion and quick response to a looming medical emergency."
Diaz even cited the case of detainee and suspected communist rebel Andrea Rosal, whose pregnancy ended up in her baby's death allegedly due to neglect of authorities.
The case infuriated many and was cited by activists as a clear example of inhumane treatment of detainees in the Philippines.
It was Lontoc who cleared Reyes for discharge from the PHC and return to Camp Bagong Diwa, after more "definitive" tests showed she was not suffering from any heart condition.
In a July 15 hearing, Lontoc defended the hospital transfer and said it was prompted by an "emergency."
Lontoc said Reyes' persistent chest pains could have escalated to a stroke or a heart attack, but he could not know for sure what triggered the chest pains given the limited facilities at the TPDH.
Explaining that an "emergency" involved a situation where delays in treatment could lead to a patient's death, he said a delay at the time of the transfer could have easily led to death – had it been a more complicated heart condition.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, however, noted that there were other tertiary hospitals nearer TPDH where Reyes could have been transferred to instead of the PHC if it were really an "emergency" situation.
Lontoc then explained that he was a consultant at the PHC, making the referrals easier.
"I'm also consultant at the PHC. I think I can work better in a hospital I know best. We don't want to waste time endorsing the patient to a new doctor," he told the court.
He added that the PHC, being a tertiary hospital, was a referral center. This way, he said, he was able to refer Reyes to a psychiatrist for her medication.
Lontoc said Reyes has mixed anxiety disorder, which has a component of depression, and needs psychiatric treatment. He said Reyes likewise had suicidal tendencies.
Only one committed to a jail
Of all the accused in the siphoning of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Reyes was the only one committed to an actual jail as defined by law.
The rest of the accused who surrendered to authorities were detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center. Janet Napoles, the alleged PDAF scam mastermind, is detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna, while Reyes' former boss and 90-year-old Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is temporarily held at the PNP General Hospital.
Reyes was earlier committed to the BJMP facility in Quezon City (QC), but the jail warden reported to the court that the QC BJMP has inadequate facilities to secure the accused. This prompted the Sandiganbayan's 3rd division to commit Reyes instead to the BJMP facility in Taguig City.
Reyes is Enrile's former chief of staff. She is accused of conspiring to divert Enrile's PDAF to ghost projects of dubious non-governmental organizations controlled by Napoles. – Rappler.com