Miriam Santiago: I will not release my medical records

Camille Elemia

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Miriam Santiago: I will not release my medical records
Will the presidential aspirant show proof that she is indeed cleared of stage 4 lung cancer? Miriam says she won't heed the call of Rappler columnist Dr Sylvia Estrada Claudio, citing her 'right to privacy'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Santiago on Tuesday, October 20, said she would not release her medical records supposedly clearing her from cancer.

Santiago refused to heed the request of Dr Sylvia Claudio in a Rappler Thought Leaders piece. The senator said it is a violation of human rights to compel her to release her medical records. 

“No, because that is my right to privacy. Now if she wants to, she can go to St Luke’s Global [City in Taguig] and she can formally ask them in writing, then St. Luke’s will follow their protocol and abide by it,” Santiago said in a phone interview with reporters on Tuesday, October 20.

She added: “Susundin ko kung ano man ang sinasabi ng hospital tungkol doon, pero, alam mo, sa ating civil code and ating criminal code, hindi p’wedeng pilitin ng abogado ang isang patient na ibunyag sa korte ang relation nila ng doctor niya. All of these are covered by private human rights,” 

(I will follow what the hospital will say about it but, you know, in our civil and criminal codes, a lawyer cannot force the patient to reveal in court his/her relation to the doctor. All of these are covered by private human rights.)

Claudio wrote an open letter to Santiago, asking the presidential aspirant to release her records that would prove she is free from stage 4 lung cancer. (READ: Dear Miriam Defensor-Santiago)

While Claudio recognized the value of confidentiality between doctor and patient, she said Santiago “broke” part of the deal when she announced her illness, for which she “got admiration and political mileage.”

“There is no clear demarcation when the public’s need to know exceeds your right to confidentiality. But as a physician and as a concerned citizen, I believe you tipped the balance when you filed your certificate of candidacy. Please, release your medical records now,” Claudio said.

Ruin presidential campaign?

Santiago said Claudio might just be out to ruin her presidential campaign. She said the burden of proof is not on her, as Claudio should first present her case. (READ: Will voters go for ill candidates like Miriam Santiago?)

“Parang ang sinasabi niya kasi na it is my burden to prove that I am healthy for the presidency. E kung ganun lahat na lang tatakbo ay pwedeng tanungin, maliban sa health issues niya no, Mayroon ka bang mental health issues? Mayroon ka bang financial issues? Baka may utang ka and things like that,” Santiago said.

(From what she’s saying, it is my burden to prove that I am healthy for the presidency. If that’s the case, all candidates can be asked, aside from your health issues, do you have health issues? Do you have financial issues? You might have arrears and things like that.)

The senator insisted she is completely free from cancer, saying she had been consistently going to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig for her treatments and check-ups for the past year and a half.

“Kaya hindi natin alam sino yung babaeng yun at kung gusto lang niya mag-iskandalo sa kampanya ko. Ano’ng ibig niyang sabihin na hindi ako nagka cancer? Bakit ako nag absent for one and a half years? Wala naman sa record ko yung magbulakbol ako,” Santiago said.

(We do not know who that woman is and if she just wants to make a scandal in my campaign. What does she mean that I didn’t have cancer? Why did I have to be absent for one and a half years. It’s not in my records to be an absentee [lawmaker].)

No law requiring it

The veteran senator, a lawyer and former Regional Trial Court judge, cited the law to push for her cause.

“That is why our law does not provide for these matters. Sarili lang niya yun. If they just want the benefit of my experience, there is what is called in my files ‘a case narrative.’ Doon nakasulat lahat ng dinaanan ko simula nung napasok ako sa hospital o unang na-discover yung cancer ko hanggang sa lumabas ako. Kaya buong storya yun. Ipinadala yan sa Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at kaya tinanggap yung aking kaso,” she said.

(That is why our law does not provide for these matters. It’s just herself. If they just want the benefit of my experience, there is what is called in my files ‘a case narrative’ Written there are all my experiences since the time I entered the hospital or the time they first discovered I have cancer, until the time I was discharged. The whole story’s there. That was sent to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that’s why they accepted my case.)

The 1987 Constitution only provides age, citizenship, and basic literacy requirements for the presidency.

Article 7, Section 2 states: 

“No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.” – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.