Manila, August 1, 2003 (Star) By Christina Mendez  - Former deputy executive secretary Ramon Cardenas has been moved to an air-conditioned room in the Philippine National Police General Hospital from a jail at Camp Crame after he was found to be suffering from sore throat, stress and fluctuating blood pressure.

Four Special Action Force troops are guarding the former Estrada administration official — two inside his room and another two at the door — to prevent "unauthorized visitors" from seeing and talking to him.

A certain Rufino Reyes Jr. had reportedly sent Cardenas a basket of fruits yesterday.

Senior Superintendent Georgia Regalado, head of the PNP General Hospital (PNPGH), said Cardenas was taken by his police guards to the emergency room at 6 p.m. Wednesday after he complained of difficulty in breathing.

Cardenas, who has been detained on rebellion charges since Monday, had a blood pressure of 130/80 as of 11 a.m. yesterday, said Dr. Jun Catli of the PNPGH.

Former senator Rene Saguisag, one of Cardenas’ lawyers, said the government cannot prove the allegations against his client.

"What should be junked is not the supposed (hospital) equipment but the rebellion cases," he said.

Saguisag said Cardenas will undergo a series of tests to determine if there is a need to transfer him to a "better" hospital.

"In this case, I have no basis to say that there is adequate equipment here or if there is a need to transfer him to another (hospital)," he said.

Cardenas might invoke health reasons to compel the PNP and the court to let him undergo "hospital arrest" just like ousted President Joseph Estrada, he added.

Saguisag questioned the filing of rebellion charges against Cardenas when mutinous junior military officers who led Sunday’s mutiny have not been charged with the same crime in court.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Cardenas would be given "hospital courtesies" but that he will not receive any special accommodation.

"I believe a stay in the hospital will be warranted at this time," he said.

"I believe the more important or urgent thing is to address his health concern, his health problem for as long as the safety measures or security precautions are undertaken," he said.

Bunye said it is up to the lawyers of Cardenas to convince the court to allow him to post bail for his temporary liberty.

"This is something they have to ask for and... a discretion of the court, which will hear the case," he said.

Cardenas is confined in a room at the right wing of the old hospital building’s second floor, the same room where Ronald Lumbao, leader of the pro-Estrada People’s Movement Against Poverty, was taken last year after complaining of hypertension.

Lumbao was also charged with rebellion for his alleged involvement in the May 1, 2001 bloody siege of Malacañang by supporters of Estrada.

Lumbao was later transferred to the Manila City Jail, but he is now out on bail. — With Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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