Due to “humanitarian reasons,” Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 issued a five-page order granting businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles her request for medical treatment.
Earlier this month, Napoles revealed that she has a uterine cyst. On March 3rd, her camp then submitted a motion for hospitalization at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City—a premier private medical facility.
Dr. Michelle Daguno of the Philippine National Police and Dr. Santiago del Rosario, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Makati Medical Center, gave recommendations to the judge after checking Napoles’ health condition earlier this month.
Alameda noted, “Although surgery is not urgent at this time as testified by Dr. Daguno, advancing the schedule of her surgical operation as pleaded by the accused herself would be beneficial to her health since the cyst in her uterus, which she claims to be the source of her excruciating pain, would be removed.”
On Thursday, March 27th, Judge Alameda ruled the motion to be granted, but not on Napoles’ terms.
“After diligently ascertaining the facts, the averments in the motions and the testimonies given… the court finds sufficient basis to grant the motion. However, the request of the accused that she should undergo surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center should be modified. Instead, the court directs that the accused will undergo surgical operation at the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak), a government hospital situated within the territorial jurisdiction of this court,” Judge Alameda said.
According to Alameda, OsMak is “a workable solution to the contrasting views” between Napoles’ camp and the people on the other side of the ruling. Alameda’s ruling also stated that all hospital expenses—from the surgery to hospitalization to medication—will be shouldered by Napoles. OsMak will, however, decide if Napoles can bring her own medical experts.
“[The decision is] subject to the guidelines of OsMak ]… But I was under the impression that as judge [Alameda] said during one of the hearings, [Napoles] could bring a physician of her choice as long as she’s in a government hospital,” Atty. Fay Singson, Napoles’ legal counsel, said.
Court clerk Disfa Valencia spoke with the media, saying that “the court is balancing [Napoles’ request] and the opposition of the prosecution to St. Luke’s. OsMak is also a tertiary hospital. It has complete facilities, the doctors are more than qualified. The court is finding neutral ground. Since OsMak is a government hospital funded by Makati City, it will be independent.”
Judge Alameda added, “The provisional liberty of the accused having been curtailed by the denial of her petition for bail, it now behooves this court to perform its duty by protecting the interest of the people over the… personal convenience of the accused.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima sees nothing wrong the Makati judge’s decision.
“Ospital ng Makati anyway is a public hospital… Provided such hospital confinement is only for a very limited duration, i.e., only for the duration of the surgery and needed recovery and provided further that a government doctor monitors the same. I guess that is acceptable,” she said in a text message to the media.
Even Benhur Luy’s lawyer, Atty. Raji Mendoza, respected the judge’s decision and supports the humanitarian side of the ruling.
“Everybody has the right to enjoy basic human rights,” he said.
Janet Lim Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. No definite yet has been set on when she will be taken to OsMak.
According to previous reports, transporting Napoles from Fort Sto. Domingo to Metro Manila costs around P120,000, including the intensive security detail to ensure Napoles’ safety.
Singson spoke with the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone and said, “I can surmise she will be thankful that her request for treatment has been granted… Although she preferred St. Luke’s, we submit to the wisdom of the court.”
Napoles’ camp is pushing for the transfer as soon as possible.
With reports from Jerome Aning, Jaymee Gamil, Nancy Carvajal