MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Presidential candidate Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago refused to take the challenge for her to release her medical record publicly for it is against her right to privacy.
In an open letter of Sylvia Estrada – Claudio, director of the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies, she dared Santiago to release her medical records, which the voters would like to know, even the records are confidential.
In a telephone interview, Miram Santiago said Claudio should not seek for medical records from her but from St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City, Taguig branch, where Santiago’s records were kept. Santiago also said that she does not know the intention of Claudio in summoning her.
Santiago’s long absence in the Senate raised questions on her true state of health. When she returned to office, she declared that she already survived a stage-four lung cancer.
Claudio, who is also a physician and psychologist, said that it was Santiago who broke her medical confidentiality after announcing her ailment to the media last year.
Santiago took offense on allegations that she’s faking her ailments for her to 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 in a report by Marvin Sy of The Philippine Star.
“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,” Santiago exclaimed.
The report said that Santiagos team of local and foreign doctors can vouch for the veracity of her claim regarding her health.
Giving in to Claudio’s demand would oblige any candidate to expose their personal records such as health and mental issues, and financial records, which the law does not require.
Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral (cerdiologist), together with other panel of doctors including Gary Lorenzo (oncologist) and Ruth Divinagracia (pulmonologist), said that Santiago was in and out of St. Luke’s Hospital, Global City for a year and a half, as she undergone for treatment.
Citing the findings of Mark Kris, head of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York, he visited Santiago at the hospital last July after studying her case. Kris informed Santiago 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 in the report.