MANILA,  October 18, 2004
President Arroyo took time off to visit former Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in Greenhills, San Juan yesterday.

Peachy Yamsuan, spokeswoman for the Manila Archdiocese, said Mrs. Arroyo had a chat with Sin and assured the cardinal of continued prayers for his health and fast recovery.

Sin is reportedly in stable condition but remains under observation even as doctors noted significant improvement on his health, Yamsuan said.

Aside from the President, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales visited Sin earlier in the day.

Sin was rushed to the hospital last Monday when his blood pressure dropped during dialysis treatment at his Villa San Miguel residence in Mandaluyong City for a long-standing kidney ailment.

Church leaders said Sin had suffered irregular heartbeat, not a heart attack as earlier reported.

Sin, 76, who retired in November 2003, was hospitalized briefly last year after having a seizure while at prayer.

Yamsuan said Bataan Bishop Soc Villegas, who had been a frequent visitor at the hospital, relayed that Sin was even exchanging jokes with his attending physician.

"Bishop Soc said the cardinal told his attending doctor he will find her a boyfriend and marry them," Yamsuan said.

Sin’s personal secretary, Fr. Rufino Sescon, earlier reported the cardinal might be taken out from the hospital anytime as his condition steadily improved.

Sescon said Sin has been diagnosed as suffering from arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) which occurred during his kidney dialysis and subsequent hypotension and congestive heart failure.

Hypotension is the medical term for low blood pressure and congestive heart failure means a weak heartbeat.

President Arroyo earlier wanted to pay visit to the cardinal but was discouraged because of his delicate condition.

Sin was revered for marshaling huge street protests that toppled two presidents in 1986 and 2001.

He has courted controversy by commenting frequently on politics and public policy.

After reaching the retirement age of 75 in August last year, Sin resigned last November as head of the Manila archdiocese that he had served for nearly three decades. Afflicted with kidney problems and diabetes, he has considerably reduced his public appearances in recent years but remained a steadfast guardian of democracy.

Sin’s retirement signaled the end of an unprecedented era of political activism by the Church, although it remains a potent force and a key backer of President Arroyo.

Rosales, who succeeded Sin at the Manila archdiocese, is also outspoken about social issues but has not waded into politics as heavily.

Former President Fidel Ramos, a Protestant, once called Sin "the divine commander-in-chief" for marshaling people power rallies that drove the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and former actor Joseph Estrada from Malacañang in 1986 and 2001, respectively.

Sin led the predominant Catholic Church through one of the Philippines’ most politically turbulent periods, emerging as one of Asia’s most prominent religious leaders and advocates of democracy. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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