Editorial: Lock them up in regular jail

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

LAWYER Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes was rushed to the Taguig Pateros District Hospital yesterday after suffering from what her lawyer described as “panic attack.”

Reyes was supposed to be transferred to a regular jail inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City after staying at the Sandiganbayan basement detention cell. She surrendered to the anti-graft court when a warrant for her arrest was issued for the plunder and graft cases she is facing.

Prominent prisoners having sudden “panic attacks” or its variations can no longer be considered surprising. Indeed, every time prominent personalities are arrested, the guess is that they will get sick and seek confinement in a hospital instead of spending time in jail.


Reyes complained of palpitations and doctors who treated her at the Taguig hospital said she has a history of coronary artery disease and Bell’s palsy seizure attacks.

She is being subjected to further tests to determine her health condition. So it is premature to say she is faking her “panic attack,” which incidentally didn’t surface at the Sandiganbayan basement jail.

But there is one observable point in Reyes’s plight, and it is that even in detention, the treatment of politicians and members of their staff can’t be equal. Reyes is one of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s co-respondents in the plunder and graft cases filed in relation to the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Enrile is at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital while Sens. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada are at the “cozier” PNP Custodial Center. Had not her “panic attack” occurred, Reyes would have stayed with other female prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa.

Reyes’s lawyers are now using her health condition to once again ask the Sandiganbayan to have her detained with Estrada and Revilla at the PNP Custodial Center. But that can’t be decided on until Reyes’s doctors come up with a more detailed report on her health status.

This should bring into focus the lack of consistency in the treatment of PDAF scam prisoners. Why won’t the anti-graft court lock all of them up in regular jail together with ordinary prisoners instead?

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 11, 2014.


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