Victims’ kin on Ampatuan Sr.’s hospitalization: independent evaluation please

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat (MindaNews/04 July) – Relatives of victims of the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao agree it is the right of Andal Ampatuan, Sr., to be hospitalized for an illness but would like a team of independent doctors to evaluate his condition.

The 74-year old Ampatuan Sr., former Maguindanao governor, patriarch of the Ampatuan clan and a principal suspect in the 2009 massacre that left 58 persons dead, 32 of them from the media, is presently confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City “as a case of advanced liver cancer with signs of decompensation,” according to a June 26 handwritten certificate by Dr. Jade Jamias.

An Agence France Presse report on July 2 said Ampatuan Sr., “had been in hospital for almost two months since complaining of abdominal pains while held in his maximum security jail in the capital.”

Reynafe Momay-Castillo, a nurse whose father Reynaldo Momay was among the 32 media workers killed in the country’s worst pre-election-related violence, told MindaNews Friday afternoon that the Ampatuan patriarch has to right to have treatment “but for me, independent diagnosis from an independent doctor should be done.”

The Ampatuan Massacre remains to be the largest attack on journalists in the world in a single day.

Mary Grace Morales, whose husband Rosell, a reporter for News Focus, and her sister, Marites Cablitas, a reporter of radio DxBX, were among the victims, echoed Castillo’s statement. Morales said it is Ampatuan Sr.’s right to be treated but she hopes an “independent evaluation” be done on the patient.

Morales recalled that in 2009, Ampatuan Sr., was brought to a hospital in Davao City instead of the detention center, allegedly because he was sick.

Rowena Carranza-Paraan, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) asked in her Facebook post on Thursday evening: “Was an independent examination of the patient done by a doctor not being paid by the Ampatuans and was the one on which the court based its decision?”

Paraan said, “Nakaawa po talaga ang kahit sinong may taning na ang buhay kaya ang desisyon ay dapat may matibay na tuntungan para di makwestyon at paghinalaan. Maawa rin at wag kalimutan ang 58 na biktima ng masaker” (We commiserate with anyone who has a few months to live that is why the decision must have solid basis so it will not be questioned or doubted. Let us also commiserate with and not forget the 58 victims of the massacre).


Jamias said the Ampatuan patriarch is “currently being managed as a case of advanced liver cancer with signs of decompensation,” and the prognosis is “currently dim as pharmacologic intervention is limited.”

“Expected life expectancy for such case is usually 3-6 (three to six) months but may be shorter if the liver function will continuously and progressively deteriorate,” Jamias said.

Jamias’ certification was used as “Annex A” of the manifestation of Ampatuan’s son, Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., also known as Datu Unsay, which he submitted to the Regional Trial Court Branch 221, to allow him to visit his father.

Unsay, who was pinpointed to by several witnesses as having led about a hundred armed men in flagging down the convoy of vehicles from Buluan, Maguindanao, and herding the passengers to the massacre site in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009, asked the court on June 28 to allow him to visit his father.

To recall, Unsay was supposed to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor in 2009, expecting he would run unopposed. But former ally Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, then vice mayor of Buluan town, announced he would run for governor and sent his wife, sisters and his lawyers, accompanied by the media, to file his certificate of candidacy at the provincial office of the Commission on Elections at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak town, on November 23, 2009.

The convoy of vehicles was stopped along the highway in Amptuan, including two other vehicles that were not part of the convoy but happened to pass at the wrong time.

Unsay was turned over to then Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza at the capitol compound on November 26.

Ampatuan Sr., his sons Zaldy (then governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Anwar (then mayor of Shariff Aguak town), Sajid (then vice governor of Maguindanao) and a son-in-law were arrested on December 5 shortly after martial law was declared in Maguindanao.

Zaldy and company were brought to and detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group regional office in General Santos City while Ampatuan Sr., was transported to Davao City, supposedly for detention at the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) but complained of chest pains and was brought to the Davao Doctors’ Hospital instead where he was confined for tests.

4 months in hospital

Ampatuan Sr., was transferred to the EastMinCom’s hospital in Panacan, Davao City in the early hours of December 7, where he stayed there until his transfer to Bicutan in Metro Manila on April 16, 2010.

Ampatuan Sr., was fetched by a military cargo aircraft which came from General Santos City to fetch Zaldy and company.

Until his departure for Manila, Ampatuan Sr., stayed in the seaside Camp Panacan Station Hospital of the Eastern Mindanao Command for various ailments that were manageable and did not necessarily require hospital confinement, among them tension headache, obesity and hemorrhoids.

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

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

On December 8, his second hospital day in camp, the medical bulletin stated that “standby oxygen was placed outside the patient’s room as safety precaution because patient cannot quit smoking.”

Throughout his four-month stay at the hospital, Ampatuan Sr. was discovered on several occasions to have been smoking inside his airconditioned room in the no-smoking hospital. The camp itself had, just shortly before the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, become a “no-smoking camp.”

The patriarch reportedly argued he would die if he can’t smoke. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)