‘Radiation’ earns Gigi isolation

Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Now it’s radiation.

Jessica “Gigi” Reyes is finally being held at Camp Bagong Diwa  in Taguig, but she has a week to stay away from other inmates, ostensibly for their own protection.

Reyes will have to spend at least a week in isolation because she still has radiation from tests at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Inspector Aries Villaester, spokesman for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-National Capital Region, said yesterday.

Villaester said the radiation, following a nuclear exam that she underwent on Monday to check the condition of her heart veins and muscles, could harm Reyes’ fellow inmates.

He said they decided to let her stay in a room on the first floor of the Camp Bagong Diwa female dormitory to make it easier for her transfer to a hospital in case of emergency.

“The stairs leading to the fourth floor are narrow and would make it difficult for her to be brought up there as she is in a stretcher,” he said.

“She is weak, is not eating, and is always lying down,” added Villaester.

He said the BJMP has assigned a standby nurse, an on-call doctor and a team that is ready to respond in emergency cases.

This, Villaester insisted, is not VIP treatment, contrary to the complaints of a group of former detainees.

“We do not tolerate any VIP treatment for anyone. We treat all detainees equally. The BJMP is merely following orders of the court and the expert advice of doctors,” he said.


Psychiatric help

Appearing before the Sandiganbayan yesterday, a doctor of the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital (TPDH) said Reyes is fit for trial but needs psychiatric help.

“If psychiatric treatment can be given to her there, then yes, your honors, she can be detained there,” cardiologist Anthony Lontoc told the anti-graft court’s Third Division.

“There’s no need for confinement in a tertiary hospital. She can stand trial and arraignment,” he told presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Alex Quiroz.

Lontoc said Reyes suffers from mixed anxiety disorder, which afflicts those who cannot cope with a stressful environment and/or tolerate anxiety, thus leading to increased depression.

“Her mixed anxiety disorder caused all these problems. She did not have a physical disease of the heart or a neurologic problem. It was more of a psychological disorder. It will be best if the patient will be treated by a psychiatrist to prevent such episodes from happening again,” the doctor said.

However, Lontoc said Reyes’ condition has stabilized and hospital confinement is not necessary for the time being.


Crying Gigi

Reyes was on a stretcher and was crying when she was brought out of the PHC in Quezon City late Monday.

“She appeared very weak and was crying,” Villaester told The STAR.

He said the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile – who had wires and an intravenous drip attached to her – underwent CT scan, 2D-Echo, MRI and EEG tests on Saturday.

He said the medical equipment were not available at the TPDH where Reyes was brought last week after allegedly suffering from panic attacks.

Reyes’ doctors at the TPDH recommended that she be brought to PHC after she complained of persistent chest pain accompanied with difficulty of breathing.

Based on the medical bulletin released 7 p.m. on Friday, “anti-angina medication was given but offered no relief.”

“An acute coronary event was considered and thus we opted to transfer patient to (PHC) for further evaluation and management,” it added.

Villaester, who visited Reyes in her “ordinary room” at the intensive care unit of the PHC Saturday, said she appeared weak and was constantly sleeping. He said her mother and two siblings were in her room at the time.

The camp of Reyes protested her discharge from the PHC Monday night, saying she was still “very weak and unable to stand.”

“We’ve written them a letter not to allow the discharge as the Sandiganbayan told them to report on her condition,” her lawyer Anacleto Diaz told The STAR, referring to the doctors’ scheduled court appearance yesterday.

He said the discharge of his client from the hospital would “pre-empt” the decision of the Sandiganbayan on their plea to have Reyes transferred to and confined in a tertiary hospital.

“Why the precipitate haste? What’s causing this?” he said in an interview Monday night.

He added the move would put his client’s health in “imminent peril.”

“I talked to her (Reyes) late noon (Monday). She was supposed to undergo two additional tests. The tests were cancelled… She’s very weak and she experienced pain whenever a (medical) equipment was pressed on her chest,” he said.

He also criticized the move to bring his client back to detention at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

“She suffered an anxiety attack there and the doctors said we cannot (rule out) the possibility of a reoccurrence,” Diaz said.


SC junks Reyes’ petition

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) junked Reyes’ supplemental petition to stop her criminal indictment in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the pork barrel scam.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said the justices decided during their session yesterday to dismiss outright the pleading of Reyes over a procedural defect.

“The Court noted that there was no leave of court to file a supplemental petition; and the Court also noted that the supposed supplemental petition was actually a distinct petition against the orders of the ombudsman and does not supplement her earlier petitions,” he said.

Te, however, clarified that the dismissal was without prejudice to seeking proper remedy, which means the petition may be re-filed separately from Reyes’ first petition.

In an 18-page supplemental petition filed last week, Reyes asked the high court to quash the arrest warrants issued by the anti-graft court on cases of plunder and 15 counts of graft and allow her to be released from detention.

She also sought issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining Sandiganbayan’s third division from hearing and resolving the criminal cases filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

She reiterated her allegation in her earlier petition that the anti-graft court committed grave abuse of discretion when it “hastily” issued the arrest warrants for plunder against her last July 4 and for the graft cases last July 7.

Reyes’ camp argued that the Sandiganbayan failed to perform its duty of personally evaluating the evidence on record in determining the existence of probable cause to warrant her arrest.

Instead of examining the evidence she presented, she claimed that the appellate court merely adopted, without citing any reason, the findings of the ombudsman, which found probable cause to charge her with plunder.

She said her constitutional right to due process was violated, claiming she did not receive copies of all statements, transcripts of hearings or meetings held with socialite-turned-state witness Ruby Tuason and affidavits related to the case that would have enabled her to sufficiently answer the charges.

Reyes accused the ombudsman of committing grave abuse of discretion in upholding the resolution of investigating panel on March 28 and filing the case before the anti-graft court on June 6.

She also alleged that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales violated her right to equal protection of the law when the latter granted immunity from prosecution for Tuason and the other whistle-blowers of the pork barrel scam.

Citing the ombudsman’s resolutions, Reyes said Tuason admitted that she made arrangements with suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles concerning the pork barrel allocations of lawmakers and that she also fixed their commissions with Napoles.

She said the other witnesses also admitted forging the signatures of several lawmakers.

She also claimed Morales met with Tuason and the other whistle-blowers while the cases were pending resolution in her office. – With Janvic Mateo, Edu Punay, Michael Punongbayan

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