Courts OK De Lima medical furlough over possible mild stroke

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2021 08:07 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2021 10:14 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — Two Muntinlupa courts have granted detained Sen. Leila De Lima's request for medical furlough, court documents showed on Friday, after a doctor's check showed she may have suffered from a mild stroke. 

“That after she was examined, Dr. [Meophilia] Santos-Cao left an impression that accused De Lima experienced a Transient Ischemic attack (mild stroke), hence, the urgent and extremely important need to rule out a cerebrovascular accident and immediate Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with contrast,” said Judge Leizel Aquiatan of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205, one of the 2 courts hearing the senator’s 2 remaining drugs cases, quoting her motion.

According to the motion, De Lima reportedly complained about "bouts of headache and persistent generalized weakness" on Wednesday. 

Both Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court branches 205 and 256 gave De Lima 3 days out of detention for medical examination.

The 3 days will begin Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m., according to Judge Aquiatan. The senator will undergo tests at the Manila Doctors Hospital.

She will be examined there because the procedure her doctor prescribed (MRI) “is not available at the Philippine National Police-General Hospital (PNP-GH).”

De Lima has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center since her arrest in February 2017 on allegations she ran the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison — which she denies. She has been acquitted in 1 case.

The court document also said it was "urgent and extremely important to rule out a cerebrovascular accident," and so "an immediate brain MRI with contrast, which is not available at the [PNP-GH], was prescribed in order to enable a full and accurate evaluation of her current state of health." 

Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256 Judge Romeo Buenaventura also gave De Lima a 3-day medical furlough “at the soonest possible time” and required her lawyers to submit a written report on her medical status before the end of the 3-day period.

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Both of the judges did not allow media coverage.

"Likewise, the lawyers or representatives and family members of accused De Lima are prohibited from giving interviews or press statements to the media during the entire duration of the medical furlough," according to Judge Aquiatan.

Judge Buenaventura, meanwhile, asked the senator's camp to submit a written report on De Lima's diagnosis before the furlough expires. 

"Should the diagnosis require the subsequent confinement of accused De Lima, her counsels are further directed to submit a separate motion therefore supported by the necessary medical abstract/certificate of accused De Lima's physicians, copy furnished the Prosecution," Judge Buenaventura said in his Amended/Supplemental Order.

Although Aquiatan acquitted De Lima in 1 drug case involving Jad Dera, she denied the senator’s plea to dismiss another drug case involving former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan. 

De Lima has moved to reconsider that denial but that, too, was junked.

Aside from 2 drugs cases in Muntinlupa, the senator is also facing a disobedience to summon charge for supposedly advising Dayan not to attend a House probe on the alleged Bilibid drug trade. She has also moved to dismiss that case.

De Lima has maintained the charges against her are politically motivated due to her opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and criticism of his human rights record.

The senator has been detained for 4 years so far.