Terminally-ill detained peasant organizer seeks court order for hospital treatment and confinement

On July 9, 2021, the legal counsel of detained peasant organizer Ernesto Jude Rimando filed a motion for urgent medical confinement at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 80, asking the court to allow him to be treated at the Philippine General Hospital and for him to stay there until medically discharged by attending doctor and the hospital.

According to the Health Action for Human Rights doctor Julie Caguiat, Rimando, 55 years old, has an end stage liver disease which is a terminal illness.

“The patient, upon last check-up was already showing signs and symptoms of decompensation, translated as Liver Cirrhosis with signs and symptoms including; ascites or bloated abdomen, easy bleeding, swollen legs, itchiness, jaundice and easy fatiguability. Decompensation affects the mean survival rate of patients such that the 60-80% 1-2 years survival rate can drastically decrease,” Caguiat said in a medical certificate she issued on 29 June 2021.

Rimando is a peasant organizer of the National Federation of Sugar Workers who was arrested by elements of the Philippines National Police in Brgy. Payatas, Quezon City on January 6, 2021 on trumped up charges of murder allegedly committed in Bohol. According to Rimando, guns, ammunitions and grenades were planted against him in a house where he was staying while in Quezon City to seek treatment on his medical condition. After his arrest, additional charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against him.

Rimando is a former youth activist from Philippine Science High School and the University of the Philippines Diliman before he went to Visayas to work as organizer among peasant communities. According to Caguiat, he also has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Additionally, conditions inside prison especially for terminally ill individuals like Rimando increase his vulnerability to succumb to liver disease and to COPD. Kumbaga, may taning na nga ang buhay nya, pahihirapan pa sa pagkakakulong nya,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. Karapatan is providing paralegal assistance to Rimando, as among the 94 sickly political prisoners in the country.

“Overcrowding rates in prison and inhumane conditions, including the lack of medical staff and facilities, compound the situation of political prisoners who are unjustly detained on fabricated charges. Rimando deserves to be released on just and humanitarian grounds,” she concluded.