Miriam won’t release medical records to public
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Citing her right to privacy, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is not taking the challenge for her to release her medical records to the public.

In an open letter, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies director Sylvia Estrada-Claudio dared Santiago to release her medical records, the contents of which voters deserve to know even if such records were confidential in nature.

In a telephone interview with reporters yesterday, Santiago said Claudio should not seek the records from her but from the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Taguig where they are kept. Santiago said she does not know Claudio’s intention for making the challenge.

Questions have been raised about the true state of health of Santiago, following her long absence at the Senate. On her return, she claimed to have won the battle with stage-four lung cancer.

Claudio, who is a physician and psychologist, argued that Santiago broke her confidentiality protections when she announced her ailment to the media last year.

Santiago also took offense at insinuations that she has been faking her ailment so she could gain political mileage.

“What is she trying to say, that I never had cancer? Why would I be absent for one and a half years (from the Senate)? I have no record of truancy. In fact, I was a consistent honor student and I was even given several awards for excellence, meaning hard work in my profession,” Santiago said.

“So I am not supposed to be on the defensive. She is supposed to present her case first. She must state her reason for doing this,” she said.

“It is as if she is saying it is my burden to prove that I am healthy for the presidency,” she added.

“She can formally ask in writing, then St. Luke’s will follow their protocol and abide by it. I will abide by whatever the hospital says about it but under our Civil Code and Criminal Code, a lawyer cannot compel a patient to reveal in court his relation to his doctor. All of these are covered by private human rights,” she said.

Santiago said that her team of local and foreign doctors can vouch for the veracity of her claim regarding her health.

Santiago said that giving in to Claudio’s demand would in effect oblige any candidate to disclose sensitive health or mental issues or even financial records – a setup not required by law.

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral (cardiologist) heads Santiago’s panel of doctors, which also includes Gary Lorenzo (oncologist) and Ruth Divinagracia (pulmonologist).

Santiago said that she was in and out of St. Luke’s Global for the entire year and a half that she was undergoing treatment.

She also cited findings of Mark Kris, head of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who even paid her a visit last July after studying her case.

In a statement issued by Santiago last July, she said that Kris informed her that the cancer growth in her left lung had been arrested.

“He is known to be the most famous of all the lung cancer specialists in the world. He took a look at my records and he told me what else I should do. It seems that everything he said was accurate and now I feel almost normal,” she said.

One-on-one race

Meanwhile, Santiago said Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II could be her only major rival in 2016 as serious legal issues are hanging over the heads of two other leading presidential candidates.

In a telephone interview with reporters, Santiago said that Sen. Grace Poe, who has been leading in surveys on voter preferences for president, could end up being disqualified as a result of the various cases filed against her with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the Commission on Elections.

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