‘Imprisonment Could Worsen Medical Conditions of 6 Political Prisoners’

A doctor said their continued imprisonment could worsen the medical conditions of six political prisoners detained at the Provincial Jail of Oriental Mindoro in Calapan City. The doctor also said their medical conditions disprove the allegations hurled against them.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat

A doctor said imprisonment could worsen medical conditions of six political prisoners detained at the Provincial Jail of Oriental Mindoro in Calapan City. The doctor also said their medical conditions can disprove allegations hurled against them.

Dr. Reginaldo Pamugas, secretary general of the Health Alliance for Human Rights (HAHR) visited and examined the six political prisoners Nov. 19. He was joined by Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Diony Cabillas of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights).

The six are among the 72 individuals charged with multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder for allegedly participating in a raid by the New People’s Army (NPA) in March 2006 in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.

Medical conditions

Labor lawyer Remigio Saladero, Jr., 50, has arthritis and hypertension. He had a stroke in June 2006.

Pamugas said Saladero is taking five medicines for his hypertension and diabetes. “There is a high risk that he might suffer a second stroke. The risk increases with blood pressure fluctuations caused by exposure to stress.”

Pamugas said Saladero is also suffering from boredom. “He is used to a busy life, handling hundreds of labor cases, writing a regular column for Pinoy Weekly, among others. Doing nothing is already a torture for him.��

Rogelio Galit, 51, spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite, has arthritis and diabetes. Unlike Saladero, Galit is already insulin-dependent; insulin must be injected to him twice a day, said Pamugas. “He asks the warden to freeze his insulin in the refrigerator,” said Pamugas.

The doctor said Galit who was diagnosed with diabetes since 2000 needs a constant supply of insulin. Otherwise, he said, Galit would suffer from vomiting, abdominal pain, metabolic acidosis or increased acid in the body, and could even lead to comatose and could affect his brain functions.

Pamugas said Galit needs to undergo regular FBS test to check his glucose level. He said Galit is vulnerable to complications in the eyes and other organs. Pamugas said Galit complained of numbness of his body.

Transport sector leader Nestor San Jose Sr., who is also the provincial coordinator of party-list group Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), had pulmonary tuberculosis and was partially treated. Pamugas strongly recommends a sputum exam and chest X-ray to determine if the TB is active and must be treated. “The disease is contagious and could spread easily in congested areas like prison cells. His resistance would be affected, making him more vulnerable to the disease.”

Emmanuel Deonida, 42, executive director of the Labor Education, Advocacy, Development, Research Services, has polio in his right leg since he was five months old. Pamugas said Deonida could not lift his right leg and could only drag it.

Pamugas said Deonida complained of decreased hearing since his detention. He said Deonida must undergo laboratory tests to determine other possible diseases.

Crispin Zapanta, 60, the oldest of the six and the chairperson of the Antipolo chapter of Bayan Muna (People First) party, has hypertension and cholelthiasis or gall stones. Pamugas said stressful conditions could increase Zapanta’s blood pressure.

Trade union organizer Arnold Seminiano, 45, has arthritis, hypertension and otitis media or infection in the ears.

Prison conditions

While Pamugas recommended regular medical checkup for the six political prisoners, he said there is no doctor at the Provincial Jail.

Pamugas said all the six political prisoners were not examined before they were detained at the Provincial Jail in Calapan. “If anything happens to them, the warden will be held accountable. They must know the health conditions of prisoners,” said Pamugas.

During medical emergencies, Pamugas said the warden should take the prisoners to the hospital even without a court order. He said though that a court order would be needed for laboratory requests and medical checkup. “They must nevertheless have easy access to basic health care,” said Pamugas.

Pamugas also recommended special diets for the hypertensive and diabetic but the prisoners have no choice but to eat what is available at the Provincial Jail. The budget for every meal per prisoner is P7.50 ($0.156 at the current exchange rate of $1=P48.02) said Pamugas.

Pamugas said that due to the distance of the jail, families of political prisoners could not regularly visit their loved ones. The political prisoners are from Laguna, Rizal and Cavite.

Karapatan’s Cabillas said the prison cells are congested. A bed, three and a half feet in width, is shared by two prisoners.

Cabillas said the six political prisoners have been sent to six different prison cells. They could only talk to one another every morning or when there are visitors. Pamugas said the separation has psychological impact on the political prisoners. “They are not treated as political prisoners; they are treated as ordinary criminals.”

Pamugas said the political prisoners need moral and financial support, especially those who have maintenance medicines.

Impossible

Pamugas said he believes the charges are fabricated and politically-motivated.

“How could they join the NPA given their medical conditions? A polio victim, an insulin-dependent diabetic and a hypertensive could not possibly live in the mountains and join a raid by the NPA,” said Pamugas.(Bulatlat.com)

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