Karapatan appeals for urgent medical treatment of terminally ill political prisoner before it’s too late

Human rights group Karapatan appealed for the urgent medical treatment of 66-year-old political prisoner Antonio Molina, who is detained at the Puerto Princesa City Jail in Palawan and diagnosed with abdominal wall sarcoma, a malignant tumor, a type of cancer that arises from transformed cells of mesenchymal (connective tissue) origin.

“Before it’s too late, and for utmost compassionate and humanitarian considerations, we appeal that political prisoner Antonio Molina be provided with the most needed and urgent medical treatment for his illness,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay urged.

Palabay said that it is imperative that the court grant the urgent motion for Molina’s medical confinement, for him to undergo a chemotherapy regimen, as palliative treatment to reduce the size of the tumor and the pain, as prescribed by his doctor.

The counsels of Molina from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), filed an Urgent Motion for Medical Confinement (Chemotherapy Regimen) on June 30 at the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 51 which prays for an initial “5-day confinement period to allow for additional laboratory procedures to be done, have enough time to observe his body’s response to the procedure, and be able to rest and regain strength after the procedure.”

“Being elderly and ailing, Molina’s health has been worrisome since his arrest. His health, however, further deteriorated last year. He suffers from sleepless nights due to severe abdominal pain, and pain relievers can only provide short and temporary relief. By the prognosis of doctors, his condition does not look good,” Palabay explained.

Molina had his first check-up in August 2020 and was referred to a surgeon who discovered a mass in his stomach. This year, an earlier urgent motion was filed by his lawyers in court on March 19 to allow Molina to be brought to the Ospital ng Palawan for proper management of his medical condition and confinement if necessary. He underwent laboratory tests at the hospital but was immediately brought back to jail afterwards. On March 24, it was revealed that the mass in his stomach is a malignant tumor.

“We fear for the worst, but we just hope that the courts be compassionate enough to allow his medical confinement, and also make sure this will be carried out the soonest before all is too late. Even if the recommended treatment is only palliative, Molina has all the right to undergo medical treatment, more so being a political prisoner who was wrongfully arrested and accused of trumped-up charges he did not commit. This has been the case for many political prisoners, such as farmer Jesus Alegre who was jailed and convicted with his wife and son. Alegre recently died in prison due to illness,” the Karapatan official said.

Molina, a member of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), was arrested on October 4, 2019 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan together with Glendhyl Malabanan, Joemelito Tanilon, Ronces Paraguso, Jenny Ann Bautista, Awing Lumpat and Bener Rimbuwan. They came from a community in Palawan after documenting human rights violations in the area when they were stopped at a checkpoint by the authorities. A warrant of arrest for murder was served to Molina which was supposedly intended for a certain Domingo Ritas. Their belongings were searched and seized. They were later brought to a police station and herded to another checkpoint where there is already a staged crime scene waiting. They were charged with fabricated cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Meanwhile, another trumped-up case for murder against Molina is pending before the Regional Trial Court Branch 164 in Roxas, Palawan on the basis of a warrant of arrest for a certain Domingo Ritas.