Ampatuan patriarch’s military hospital stay: the third time around

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 March) – Andal Ampatuan, Sr’s  confinement in a military hospital  in Quezon City since Friday is the third hospital stay for the former Maguindanao Governor since his arrest on December 5, 2009  as among the principal suspects in the massacre of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media

The 70-year old Ampatuan, who spent the first four months of his life as prisoner in an  airconditioned room inside a military hospital in Davao City, was rushed to the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital on Friday and later transferred to the intensive care unit of the pulmonology service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ V. Luna Memorial Medical Hospital in Quezon City, reported.

Ampatuan was rushed to the hospital from his detention cell in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, after vomiting blood and suffering difficulty in breathing. Dr. Robert Abat, director of the Taguig hospital told GMA News that based on laboratory tests and X-Ray, the patient had “pneumonia and pulmonary congestion.”

Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office was quoted by as having said Ampatuan was diagnosed by military doctors as suffering from “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic alcoholic liver disease.”

GMA News reported his lawyers filed a motion in court to allow him to stay in the hospital and that the court would hear the motion on Monday.

Ampatuan spent the first 163 days of his detention  in Davao City hospitals: two days at the city’s premier health facility, the Davao Doctors Hospital, and four months and ten days at the seaside Camp Panacan Station Hospital of the Eastern Mindanao Command for various ailments, according to the seven page medical bulletin from December 7, 2009 to January 3, 2010  released by the EastMinCom.

Ampatuan’s ailments were manageable and did not necessarily require hospital confinement, among them tension headache, obesity and hemorrhoids.

A heavy smoker, Ampatuan Sr. stayed in a two-bed airconditioned room in the usually overpopulated 38-bed primary hospital in the EastMincom camp intended for soldiers and their families until he was flown to Manila on April 16, 2010.

The January 2010 medical bulletin listed the following under “present working impression:”
“1. Hypertension stage 2, fair control
“2. Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease (LVH)
“3. COPD, not in acute exacerbation
“4. Hepatic Cirrhosis sec to NASH sec to Diabetes Mellitus and obesity with beginning esophageal varices (Child-Pugh Class A)
“5. Tension Headache with Migraine component.
“6. Diabetes mellitus type 2, obese, non-insulin requiring
“7. Internal Hemorrhoids grade 1
“8. Erosive gastritis
“9. Acute Gastroenteritis, resolved
“10. Allergic Bronchitis, resolved.
“11. Acute conjunctivitis, OU, resolved.”

COPD means Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease while NASH means Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. NASH “most commonly affects people who are middle-aged and obese” while smoking is a major cause of COPD.

It is not clear if Ampatuan Sr. has stopped smoking while detained in Taguig.

But on December 8, 2009, Ampatuan’s second hospital day in the military hospital here, the medical bulletin noted that “standby oxygen was placed outside the patient’s room as safety precaution because patient cannot quit smoking.”

Ampatuan Sr. was discovered on several occasions to have been smoking inside his airconditioned room in the no-smoking hospital. The camp itself  is  a “no-smoking camp.”

MindaNews sources at that time said the patriarch argued he would die if he could not smoke.

EastMinCom spokesperson Major (now Lt. Col.) Randolph Cabangbang told MindaNews on January 9, 2010 that Ampatuan, who had by then spent a month in the military hospital,  said they were mere custodians and that Ampatuan remained in the hospital because the Department of Justice which tasked the EastMinCom to be Ampatuan’s custodian, had not revoked the order.

At the time of their arrest, the Ampatuans were loyal allies to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then President. Arroyo even called Ampatuan, Sr. her “Ama”  (Father).

Ampatuan was arrested at around 1:30 a.m. on December 5, 2009, a few hours after martial law was declared over Magundanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City. He was arrested in his mansion in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao although Arroyo’s Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, said he was just “invited.”

The patriarch was told he would be brought to the EastMinCom camp in Davao City, some 290 kilometers away via Cotabato City while three of his sons – Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid and brother in law Akmad – were arrested and detained in General Santos City.

Andal Ampatuan, Jr., who was pinpointed by witnesses as having led about a hundred armed men who stopped the convoy of vehicles of the victims and herded them to Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town where they were massacred on November 23, 2009 was turned over to then Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Jesus Dureza on November 26.

Upon arrival in Davao City on December 5, 2009, Ampatuan Sr. complained of chest pains and was brought to the Davao Doctors’ Hospital instead of directly to the camp hospital 12 kilometers away. After several tests, he was given a cardio clearance for transfer to the camp hospital. He was fetched by military operatives from Davao Doctors nearly midnight December 6  and brought to the camp hospital in the early hours of December 7.

Ampatuan Sr. was flown to Manila on April 16, 2010, reuniting with his sons and brother in law inside a military cargo plane. His sons — Zaldy Ampatuan, then governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; then mayor of Shariff Aguak town; and Sajid, who was elected Vice Governor of Maguindanao and assumed the post of governor when the patriarch resigned in January 2009;  and brother in law Akmad Ampatuan, elected mayor of Mamasapano town who was appointed vice governor when Sajid assumed the gubernatorial post – were detained in the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group facility in General Santos City and were flown to Manila, passing by Davao to fetch the patriarch.

On July 5, 2010, barely three months after his transfer to Manila,  Ampatuan Sr. was sent to the V. Luna Hospital for treatment of herpes zoster or shingles, a skin rash caused by a nerve and skin inflammation from the same virus causing chickenpox.

GMA News in its report on Ampatuan’s recent confinement said he stayed for a month in the hospital in 2010.

On May 11, 2011, Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes ordered a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology doctor to justify in writing a recommendation that Andal Ampatuan Sr. be treated at the Makati Medical Center, Malaya reported.

Judge Reyes also directed Chief Insp. Maria Victoria Valeria of the BJMP Health Service Unit to inform the court in writing the treatment or medication she had prescribed to help treat Ampatuan Sr.’s medical problem. Valeria had recommended that Ampatuan be admitted as an outpatient at Makati Med and placed under the care of Dr. Glenn Santos.

Valeria examined Ampatuan on May 4, 2011 and found a swelling on his left ankle joint which was later diagnosed as “osteoarthritis,” Malaya reported on May 12, 2011. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)