GLORIA Macapagal-Arroyo has shown vicious contempt and grave disrespect for the Filipino physicians and the healthcare in the Philippines when she and her husband decided the quality of medical care in the Philippines was not good enough for her, the implied reason why they were attempting to go abroad for treatment.
Apparently, they feel that our physicians and surgeons are not competent enough, not good enough, to treat her illness, cervical spondylosis, or neck arthritis, which is a degenerative condition due to wear and tear of the spine of the neck, a most common condition that afflicts at least tens of millions of the Filipinos. Just like arthritis of the back spine, hip, knee joints, or of the fingers, this condition has pain, which may wax and wane. But certainly, it is not a serious or life threatening condition that GMA and her supporters want to portray to win the sympathy of the Filipino people.
In 2007, her husband underwent a successful repair of a thoracic aneurysm, which is a million-fold more complex a surgical treatment, compared to spondylosis, which even an intern or a “hilot” can treat on an outpatient, as declared by GMA’s physician. All it needs are pain and anti-inflammatory pills, with or without physical therapy in most cases. Indeed, we have the medical competence and quality of care right here in the Philippines. Our physicians may not be able to cure a corrupt and evil mind, but they can competently manage complex medical conditions right in our own country, and most certainly treat arthritis and its complications well.
For several years, I have been pushing for the Philippines to throw its hat into the arena of medical tourism in Asia. I posted the challenge a few years ago at the Annual Clinical Congress of the Philippine College of Surgeons, because of my strong faith and conviction in the talent and competency of my colleagues and in the quality of care in the key medical centers in the country. I believed then and more so now that the Philippines is a potential mecca of medical tourism in Asia. So, how could Gloria Arroyo insult our country’s well-trained physicians and quality medical care? Obviously, to get what she wants, GMA will say or do anything.
As a former president, Arroyo should be the first to show confidence and pride for the quality of medical care in the Philippines by her preference to be treated at home rather than go abroad. GMA’s determined desire to get treatment outside of the country is a slap in the face of the medical and allied health professionals in the Philippines. She has disgraced the entire medical profession in our country before the whole world with lies her decision has unjustly implied.
As a Filipino cardiac surgeon who had practiced in Northwest Indiana, just south of Chicago, for nearly three decades and at the Cebu Doctor’s University Hospital, Cebu City, Philippines, for more than twelve years, and knowing countless medical colleagues in Cebu and Metro Manila, I can categorically say that our country today has at least a dozen medical centers with modern equipment and manned by impressive medical talents, comparable to those in the United States.
However, it is obvious that Gloria Arroyo and her husband were simply using the brutal excuse to escape justice, with the help of their lawyers, who are apparently willing to utilize all technical maneuvers to impede the legal process to allow the couple to flee and avoid prosecution. At least, that’s how it looks to the public, who equates running away as a sign of guilt. If they are innocent, they should stay and fight it out to clear their name.
GMA and her husband should be presumed innocent of the charges against each of them till proven guilty in the court of law. That right, they deserve, in spite of the obvious contempt they have for the decent and law-abiding Filipinos and the legal system of the Republic. The Arroyos must have their day in court. The integrity of the whole nation is at stake. The people demand justice. Let’s make sure they get it, fairly, swiftly, without unnecessary delays, even if Chief Justice Corona and his Seven (all Arroyo appointees) might be willing to allow the couple to simply get away scot free.
The demand by Senator Drilon, Bantay Gloria Network, some religious and other civic groups for Corona to inhibit himself from this case is clearly in order, even for delicadesa, because the people suspect that the Chief Justice is beholden to GMA for his controversial May 2010 midnight appointment by Arroyo as Chief Justice and for his past association with her as Chief of Staff when GMA was vice president and later as president. Drilon also cited 19 cases (2004 to 2010) involving the past administration of Arroyo, where Corona voted consistently in favor of GMA, which “have created doubts in the public’s mind about his impartiality.”
The popular clamor to impeach Corona is brewing and gaining ground. The “crown” of Arroyo must be removed and GMA must be treated like any other citizen who is charged with a crime, electoral sabotage, which is unbailable. Anyone obstructing justice, including justices of the Supreme Court, must be answerable to the people.
The same responsibility and culpability equally apply to the lawyers on either side, to the physicians treating Gloria Arroyo, to members of the Aquino Administration, the Congress, and generally to anyone involved.
All this drama is a hopeful sign of great things to come to the Philippines. The wisdom of the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who elected P-Noy and his vision of “daang matuwid” (The Straight Path) is now starting to manifest and bear fruit. The earnest war against graft and corruption is the only way for us to save our nation and our people, especially those in the gutter of poverty and hopelessness. It might sound crazy, but I bullish about the Philippines. I sincerely believe there is hope for our country to be a great country, a nation with justice, dignity, integrity, compassion, prosperity, and peace. But then again, I am a sentimental dreamer.
Indeed, the Philippines must show the world that we are a nation of justice and that no one, not even a president, past or present, is above the law. As always, the ultimate power and justice rest in the hands of the people, in the Parliament of the Streets, if and when any of the three branches of the government defaults by failing to act responsibly to protect the integrity of the nation and its citizens.
At this early stage, we, the people, should not even attempt to make a diagnosis, in spite of the speculations around and what seemingly appears to be obvious. If we want justice, we must first be just ourselves and allow the prescribed judicial process to go through without delay. Let us be patient, steadfast, calm, but vigilant. After all, the truth will come out soon enough, and justice will prevail.
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