Doctors say Estrada needs two weeks in Manila hospital

MANILA, Philippines, AP

Jailed former President Joseph Estrada has bronchitis and needs treatment that could keep him in Manila — and out of a remote detention center — for at least two weeks, doctors said Monday.

The report by Dr. Salvador Flores, which prescribed antibiotics and a series of tests, comes amid heated debate over Estrada’s request to be released into house arrest.

The Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court handling allegations that Estrada illegally amassed US$82 million in 31 months in office, is to rule this week.

The court accepted earlier doctors’ requests to keep Estrada hospitalized.

The Philippine National Police also said they would not take Estrada back to the detention center until doctors give him a clean bill of health.

Estrada was transferred from detention to Manila’s Veterans Memorial Medical Center on May 12, complaining of a cough and fever. His son Jinggoy was also taken to the hospital, complaining of a stomach ache.

Flores’ report said Estrada’s treatment will take two weeks, after which he will be tested again. It also recommends physiotherapy for arthritis.

Flores said Jinggoy has high cholesterol and also needs a heart examination.

Estrada and Jinggoy were jailed April 25. Both were charged with the non-bailable, capital offense of plunder.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Saturday met Estrada for the second time this month and said afterward she has no objection to house arrest.

Presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said Arroyo made the visit after hearing Estrada suffered “bouts of depression” at the prospect of being transferred back to the detention house south of Manila.

Arroyo said Sunday she heard that doctors would recommend Estrada be allowed to stay at the hospital indefinitely to ensure his good health. She said she will order construction of a house for Estrada in the sprawling hospital compound “to make him comfortable.”