Cardiologist apologizes for claims about Arroyo’s neck ailmentBy Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s cardiologist, Dr. Roberto Anastacio, has apologized for claims he made regarding the former President’s condition and the kind of treatment she should be getting, after being rebuked by the Philippine Medical Association, PMA officials said Thursday.
PMA spokesman Dr. Mike Aragon said Anastacio was called by the organization’s ethics committee to a meeting on Wednesday night that went on until midnight to determine if he had violated PMA rules.
Aragon said Anastacio was made to explain his remarks to the media last week that his patient condition was deadly and she had no other choice but to go abroad for cervical spine surgery because the surgical team that could carry it out was not available in the Philippines.
Dr. Leo Olarte, a PMA governor and an orthopedic surgeon, said Anastacio might have breached the PMA’s Code of Ethics when he told the media what kind of treatment Arroyo needed even though he was not a bone expert. “You should stick to your field especially in sensitive cases,” Olarte said.
Anastacio apologized to the organization for stating that Arroyo had to undergo a neck operation as soon as possible abroad. He also told the media that the country did not have the kind of specialists who could perform the type of surgery the former president needed.
Anastacio, according to Olarte, told the ethics committee that he did not mean to malign his Filipino colleagues and that he spoke out of his expertise.
“He apologized for what he said. He said he was misinterpreted by the media,” Olarte said, adding the PMA accepted the apology.
Anastacio told the ethics committee that he did not advise Arroyo to go to the United States for surgery and that he only mentioned Austria because of recent findings he read in a medical journal that it has breakthrough research regarding his patient’s condition.
The ethics committee also asked Anastacio details behind his press conference last week. Anastacio said he did not know who paid for the restaurant in Makati City where the briefing was held.
Arroyo has been struggling with cervical spondylosis, a degenerative condition of the cartilage of the vertebrae in the neck caused by the chronic erosion and age. Since July last year, Arroyo has had three operations and received titanium plate implants in the cervical spine.
The Aquino administration has charged her electoral sabotage, breach of ethics and plunder. Government officials feared that Arroyo would not return to the Philippines if allowed to leave for treatment abroad.
Filipino orthopedic surgeons have urged “conservative treatment” for the former president. In a previous interview, Dr. Antonio Sison, president of the Philippine Orthopedic Society, said he knew of Arroyo’s condition only from media reports.
If the screws on the former president’s neck are loose and causing her pain as claimed by her doctors, perhaps it is best to remove them than do a full reconstruction, he said.
He noted that Arroyo has gone under the knife three times.
Olarte said Arroyo’s rehabilitation should be done only after her bones are stable and solid.