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Gigi Reyes in hospital after panic attack

MANILA, Philippines – (2nd UPDATE) Her first night in a regular jail didn’t quite push through as planned.

Lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, who is under detention for her alleged involvement in the multimillion-peso "pork barrel" scam, was rushed to the Taguig Pateros District Hospital a little past 1 am on Thursday, July 10.

In a discharge summary submitted before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, doctors said Reyes had been complaining of palpitations. “One hour history of persistent palpitations,” noted the physician.

Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, faces graft and plunder charges for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in public funds through fake projects of bogus non-governmental organizations.

She was transferred to the Taguig jail’s female dormitories a little past 11 pm on Wednesday, July 9, upon the orders of the court.

She asked the court to commit her to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, but this was denied on lack of merit. Before the commitment order for the Taguig jail was issued, Reyes stayed inside a female-only facility within the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. (READ: 'No VIP treatment' for Gigi Reyes in Taguig jail)

The doctor at the Taguig hospital said Reyes was already in a stable condition but advised admission “for further workup and observation.” Reyes is currently staying inside an airconditioned room meant for 6 patients, but will likely be transferred to a smaller room, hospital officials said. 

Transfer to Camp Crame

Hours after her confinement, Reyes’s lawyer asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to reconsider her motion seeking her detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, citing her health.

Reyes filed an urgent Motion for Reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan after the court junked her motion to be transferred to the Camp Crame facility.

Reyes' lawyers cited the presence of several female members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at the National Capital Region headquarters Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig city, where she had been ordered detained – which can only add to Reyes' anxiety.

Medical woes?

In an interview with reporters at the Sandiganbayan, Reyes’ lawyers said she had a panic attack which caused seizures. Court sources who were present when Reyes was fetched by Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel on Wednesday said Reyes wasn’t feeling well.

Two ambulances were part of the convoy that transported Reyes from the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The Taguig hospital noted that Reyes also has a history of coronary artery disease and Bell’s palsy seizure attacks.

In an interview with reporters, hospital director Dr Prudencio Sta Lucia said Reyes needs to undergo further observation because her symptoms might "progress." So far, the hospital is able to accomodate all of Reyes' health needs – "basic" tests and prodecures to determine her health. 

Sta Lucia said they may issue a medical bulletin on Friday, July 11, to give updates on her medical condition. 

BJMP spokesperson Inspector Aris Villaester earlier told reporters Reyes seemed "sad" when she arrived in the jail, but was cleared of any health issues by jail doctors. 

Villaester said BJMP Special Tactics and Response personnel are watching over Reyes while she is in the hospital. 

Why the sudden attack?

In a hearing Thursday afternoon, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang asked Reyes' lawyer, Anacleto Diaz, why his client's panic attacks seemed so sudden.

Tang cited the monitoring of Reyes' medical condition when she was still held at the anti-graft court's basement detention cell. Reyes stayed at the court's female-exclusive cell for 5 days but did not suffer from any panic attacks at the time.

Pressed to answer what caused the "sudden attacks," Diaz said "the stimuli precisely is the facility itself."

Diaz said he personally witnessed his client's ordeal, describing Reyes' condition as pitiful. Diaz said Reyes was vomiting and her face was contorted. – with a report from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com

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Read other stories on Reyes here.