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Palace defends Arroyo: No breast repair, only benign lumps

MANILA, Philippines - Biopsy tests, and not breast repair, were performed on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when she was admitted at the Asian Hospital last June 30, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Friday. He denied newspaper reports that Mrs. Arroyo was scheduled to undergo surgery either for breast enhancement or repair, branding them as “absurd." Maria Teresa Tangkeko-Lopez, the gynecologist of Mrs. Arroyo, said biopsy tests were taken to check the lumps in the president’s breast and groin, which were discovered when she underwent routine tests before she left for Japan on June 17. The tests found that the lumps were benign, and the hospital discharged Mrs. Arroyo with a clean bill of health, the doctor said. Tangkeko-Lopez issued a medical bulletin on Friday, explaining that the result of Mrs. Arroyo’s initial test came out while she was abroad. The chief executive was advised to undergo additional tests when she returned to the country, “so when she was admitted (to the Asian Hospital) for quarantine, in accordance with the influenza A(H1N1) advisory, biopsies were done, which turned out normal," said Tangkeko-Lopez. On Thursday, a daily broadsheet quoted a source from the hospital as saying that a biopsy was done on Mrs. Arroyo’s breast and that a lump found in her groin area was scheduled to be removed by surgery. The report further said that the President was scheduled to undergo augmentation mammoplasty, or the surgical enhancement of breasts through implants. On Friday, a columnist in another broadsheet claimed that Mrs. Arroyo checked in at the hospital for a “mammoplastic repair of her leaking breast implants done in the ‘80s." Public concern The reports irked Mrs Arroyo, according to Remonde, who said one just needed to look at the president to see that “she does not have big implants that some starlets have." He said it was "unfortunate" that some people had dug up the medical records of Mrs. Arroyo and put a negative spin on them. After the news came out, opposition groups urged Mrs. Arroyo to be transparent about the status of her health. United Opposition president and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay said he was concerned about the impact of Mrs. Arroyo’s medical condition on her judgment and fitness to govern. “As we enter the crucial months leading to the elections, and with all these talks of destabilization and no election, we cannot leave the big decisions to someone who may not be physically well," he said on Friday in a statement posted on the Makati City web portal ( Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement, which has been calling on Mrs. Arroyo to resign due to allegations of election fraud and involvement in various corruption scandals, said the President’s health condition “is of public concern. “It should be public knowledge, just like the disclosures being done by public officials in the US. We want to know if she’s okay, not for any agenda or criticism. We don’t wish her to be ill even if we are at political odds with her," Navarro told GMANews.TV. But presidential legal adviser Raul Gonzalez thinks otherwise. “That (report) is very irresponsible. That is a private matter that has nothing to do with public concern," Gonzalez told GMANews.TV. - GMANews.TV