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Napoles doctors: Hospital confinement not needed

MANILA, Philippines – The stay of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in the Ospital ng Makati (Osmak or Makati Hospital) could be coming to an end soon.

During the hearing on Napoles’ motion to extend her stay at OsMak, presiding Judge Elmo Alameda said he plans to order Napoles’ return to her detention center in Fort Sto Domingo by “next week.”

Napoles is currently at OsMak, recuperating from a total hysterectomy performed more than 3 weeks ago on April 23. Napoles has been in OsMak for over 6 weeks or about 42 days now since she was transferred on March 31 – way past OsMak medical director Dr Perry Peralta’s earlier estimate of 26 days.

During an earlier hearing, Alameda also said Napoles’ hospital stay was “overdue.”

Napoles faces serious illegal detention charges for allegedly detaining former aide turned pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy from December 2012 to March 2013. 

Already discharged

As far as doctors from OsMak are concerned, Napoles should have been moved back to her detention center in Laguna more than a week ago. Testifying before the court on Thursday, Peralta said OsMak issued a discharge order on May 5, a week after the hysterectomy.

Napoles’ personal physicians, who were brought on board through a court order, have also issued Napoles’ discharge. "We issued already our discharge so by that we mean she doesn’t need hospitalization,” Napoles’ personal physician oncologist Efren Domingo told the prosecution after he was asked if his patient still needed to stay in the hospital.

Peralta said OsMak submitted a progress report both to the court and the prosecution after she was discharged when they also heard about a pending request from the physicians of Napoles.

The hospital director added it was unclear to him why Napoles did not leave as soon as the discharge orders were released. “She didn’t come to our accounting office to pay,” Peralta simply said.

As of May 15, he said Napoles owes OsMak over P105,000 in unpaid bills. Peralta, however, added that her standing debt does not prevent her from leaving since she can simply sign a promissory note.

“OsMak treats indigents for free… meanwhile, you’re charging Mrs Napoles. Is that not discrimination?” asked Napoles’ counsel Fay Isaguirre Singson. Peralta said it wasn’t, since it was the court who ordered that Napoles pay for her own hospital stay.

Peralta added that there were no medical or legal hindrances to stop Napoles from leaving OsMak.

Safety issues

Domingo and Pascua said if they had their way, Napoles would visit their clinics for regular check-ups over the next 4 months and during the 6th month. Both expressed their concerns over their security, given the issues Napoles is involved in.

Napoles faces plunder charges alongside Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla for allegedly pocketing public funds meant for development and livelihood projects.

The two added that they also want to avoid hassling their other patients, but would comply with whatever the court orders. Both doctors emphasized the importance of the check-ups, which they described as “standard.”

"We recommended that we have a gynecologic examination every week for 4 weeks. Thereafter we recommended an examination every 2 weeks for another 1 month, and then we’d like to see her once a month for 2 consecrative months, equating to months 3 and 4. Thereafter, we want to see her at month 6" Domingo said.

“Considering the hugeness of the mass and the adhesions inside… there’s no other way to find out if a patient has complications unless we see her regularly,” Domingo told the court.

Both doctors, however, were not sure if the facilities in Fort Sto Domingo are enough for the check-ups Napoles requires. Another hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, May 20, where a doctor from the PNP camp in Laguna is expected to testify on the conditions of Napoles’ detention center.

Until then, Napoles will continue to stay in OsMak. –