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Level with Filipinos, Santiago asked

/ 12:10 AM October 29, 2015

We support Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio’s call for Sen. Miriam Santiago to release her medical records. The senator has declined the request, citing her right to privacy. We appeal to her sense of fairness and ask her to do the right thing for the Filipino people. As a candidate for the highest position in the land, she has the responsibility to provide all important information that would help the Filipino electorate make a fully informed decision on their choice for president.

To recall:

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  • At a press briefing on July 2, 2014, Senator Santiago announced she had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, but that she expected to be cured in six weeks.
  • On Oct. 16, 2014, Senator Santiago informed her fellow senators, in compliance with the “requirements of collegial courtesy,” that 90 percent of her cancer cells had regressed since she started treatment.
  • In a press statement released on July 22, 2015, Senator Santiago discussed the findings of Dr. Mark Kris, chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Kris had studied the tests conducted at St. Luke’s Medical Center. The tests included PET (positron emission tomography) and CT (computed tomography) scans. Kris also consulted with Senator Santiago’s Filipino doctors (former social welfare secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral, oncologist Dr. Gary Lorenzo, and pulmonologist Dr. Ruth Divinagracia) on July 17, 2015. In the press statement, she also noted: “Kris said that although no patient can be pronounced cured of cancer, Santiago, while following the medical prescriptions of Kris, has been able to control the cancer, meaning that cancer growth in her left lung has been arrested.”
  • In announcing her candidacy for president on Oct. 13, 2015, Senator Santiago said: “I will run because I’ve already gotten over my bout with cancer and there’s nothing left to do.”

We note that Dr. Kris’ medical opinion was that Senator Santiago’s cancer had been controlled, and that the growth in her left lung had been arrested. It does not support Senator Santiago’s contention that she has gotten over her bout with cancer. How long her cancer can be controlled and the growth arrested, only God (whose existence Senator Santiago has doubted) knows. We also note that the presidential and vice presidential candidates in the United States release their medical records not because they are required to do so but in the interest of transparency and the public’s right to know.

We are lay affiliates of the Religious of the Good Shepherd. We love our country and we discussed the current political situation during our monthly meeting last Oct. 22. We respectfully request Senator Santiago to level with the Filipino people. We quote the last line of the New York Times’ editorial of May 4, 2008 on “Missing Records,” which is appropriate here too: “The extent of a candidate’s candor is a good measure of how candid he or she will be in the White House.”

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—PACITA S. ALMARIO, mission partner, Lay Affiliates of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City

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TAGS: Cancer, Elections 2016, Miriam Defensor Santiago
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