PMA denies GMA doc flip-flop

Posted at 08/24/12 12:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A ranking official of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) denied a news story that Dr. Roberto Anastacio is backing down from his earlier diagnosis on the medical condition of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

PMA Secretary General Marianne Dobles MD said Anastacio was not scolded, and that he is not facing an investigation by the group's ethics committee for saying that Mrs. Arroyo needed immediate surgery in the United States.

Dobles said PMA President Modesto Llamas asked to meet with Anastacio and Mrs. Arroyo’s other doctors last Wednesday to ask about the former president’s health.

She said the meeting was meant to shed light on Mrs. Arroyo true condition so that the PMA could issue a statement.

"Nakalagay po dito eh scolded by the PMA. Wala ho. Wala hong duktor na pinagalitan. Walang kinastigate. Nagtanong tanong lang ang PMA. We're preparing a statement on the case. Dahil pinag-aaralan di naman pwedeng basta na lang lalabas. Medyo sensitive po yung kaso, high profile po ito,” she said, referring to an Inquirer report.

Anastacio earlier said he recommended to Mrs. Arroyo that she get surgery in the US due to a displaced titanium implant in her neck. He said the former President was at risk of “sudden death” due to cardiac arrest because the implant was blocking her air passageways.

PMA Governor Leo Olarte, however, disputed Anastacio’s findings and said the surgery could be done in the Philippines.

Dobles said the PMA called for a meeting because of the conflicting opinions of Anastacio and Olarte.

She said Anastacio and 15 other doctors of Mrs. Arroyo met with some PMA officials last Wednesday. The doctors included those from Veterans Memorial Medical Center, orthopedic spine surgeons, specialists and cardiologists.

The PMA officials include 4 executive committee members, 2 PMA-NCR governors and members of the ethics committee.

Anastacio didn’t change diagnosis

Dobles denied that Anastacio “flip-flopped” or took back his earlier diagnosis on the former President during the meeting.

“He did not flip-flop. He was telling how he arrived (at the finding). Wala ho siyang binawi. He was explaining how he reached that diagnosis and why he made that recommendation. Walang binawi. Di siya pinagalitan ng PMA,” she said.

She also denied that Anastacio apologized for his diagnosis.

“His apology was for all the controversy being raised by his diagnosis. He was sorry that the entire PMA was being dragged into the issue,” she said.

Dobles said ethics committee members questioned Anastacio about why he called for a press conference on Mrs. Arroyo's medical condition last August 17.

She said Anastacio denied calling for the press conference or even funding it. She said the doctor was merely invited to the press conference.

"[Anastacio] does not know who paid for the press conference, which was done at a restaurant," she said.

Dobles stressed that only Llamas can speak for the PMA. She said the PMA will issue a statement on Mrs. Arroyo's case pending its own review of Anastacio's findings.

Dobles said the meeting happened at the PMA Boardroom with only doctors present.

She said PMA members were surprised that the meeting was reported in the media.

As this developed, the PMA released a statement stressing that only PMA president Modesto Llamas or his authorized representative can speak for the PMA.

"Opinions, remarks, comments made by any individual not coursed officially through the PMA does not reflect the views and position of the Philippine Medical Association,” the statement read.