MANILA, Philippines -- If former Occidental Mindoro Representative and murder convict Jose Villarosa underwent surgery for lung cancer at the Makati Medical Center, he did not look it, former provincial governor Ricardo Quintos said, basing his statement on photographs purportedly taken in the former’s hospital room.
Instead of a hospital gown, Villarosa in the pictures was wearing a polo shirt. He also had on a necklace but no tubes -- such as for dextrose, for instance -- in his arms, Quintos told the Court of Appeals which is hearing Villarosa’s appeal of his murder conviction for the killing of two of Quintos’ sons.
The photos showed Villarosa lying on a bed sheet and pillow with the MMC logo on them. He had a copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer of Jan. 16, 2008, lying across his chest. The photos were taken by a Malacañang photographer who accompanied Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye to the MMC the day an Inquirer story came out saying Villarosa could not be found at any of the hospitals he was supposed to have sought treatment at.
Villarosa was sentenced to death for the killing of Paul and Michael Quintos in 1997. He had been incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. The Villarosas and Quintoses were political rivals.
Villarosa’s wife, Amelita, is the incumbent representative of Occidental Mindoro and is an ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Villarosa denied he had gone missing, saying he was at the MMC -- where he remains to this day -- and underwent surgery on Jan. 5.
“As a matter of fact, the appellant Villarosa, after his alleged surgery, was wearing a necklace, a polo shirt and not a hospital gown and without any IV fluid being introduced to him as shown in the newspapers that circulated two weeks ago after he was reported to be missing,” Quintos said in his Feb. 5 reply to the Court of Appeals in response to Villarosa’s comment to the court that he had had surgery for lung cancer and had to be confined at the MMC.
Villarosa was originally taken to the MMC on Dec. 7, 2007, with chest pains secondary to pneumonia, hypertension and type-2 diabetes. The Court of Appeals sought his comment after Quintos complained about his hospital stay.
Quintos said Villarosa had failed to present to the court the records of his operation as well as the pathology report on his illness that would justify his continued hospital confinement.
He said Villarosa could recover from his surgery at the NBP since its medical facilities were more than adequate for his needs.
“As of the moment, appellant Villarosa is a free man and not in prison inside the MMC considering that he is receiving special and unwarranted benefits above that of the ordinary convicted felon. The appellant Villarosa is being allowed to receive guests and is staying in a luxurious suite of the MMC, which is a hundred-fold better than the cells of the NBP where he is supposed to stay for his reformation and rehabilitation,” Quintos said.
He said the NBP violated the Bureau of Corrections’ operating manual when it allowed Villarosa to go to MMC.