Cebu -- "Ruben Ecleo Jr. is like a walking time bomb. He can just drop dead anytime."
So testified Evelyn Alesna, a doctor who specializes in internal medicine, before the Regional Trial Court Wednesday.
Her opinion was sought by Judge Generosa Labra, who is trying the parricide charge against Ecleo for the death of his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo, in January 2002.
Judge Labra is expected to issue Thursday a ruling on the motion to extend Ecleo's stay in a private hospital and to transfer him to other facilities with more equipment for his ailments.
Philippine National Police 7 physician Rodrigo Cudoy, whom the court also asked to examine Ecleo, noticed a "suspicious mass" in Ecleo's upper left abdomen.
"There are a lot of possibilities on the mass in his abdomen. Anything goes. He may die or he may live," he said.
Apart from pushing for his continued hospital confinement, Ecleo's lawyers also questioned the testimony of his brother-in-law.
Lawyers Orlando Salatandre Jr. and Giovanni Mata, in Wednesday's cross-examination, hammered on Angelito Bacolod's inability to remember some details surrounding his sister's death.
Bacolod was unable to recall, among other details, the day when he and brother Josebil went to the Ecleo residence in Forest Hills in Banawa, Cebu City to get their belongings and the type of pants he was wearing.
Ecleo has been detained since June 2002.
Now 43, he was originally brought to the Chong Hua Hospital for treatment of a benign bone tumor. However, more advanced tests and examinations showed he is also suffering from other ailments.
"I am scared for him should he be sent back to the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center immediately. A simple flu or pneumonia can trigger a serious cardiac problem," Dr. Alesna told the court.
Alesna, an internist, said the test results showed that Ecleo's heart would, at times, beat faster than normal, a condition she referred to as tachycardia.
Another test showed that Ecleo's heart sometimes skips beats. Alesna also noted an abnormal wall motion that may be an indication of a coronary disease.
This condition is reportedly worsened by the fact that Ecleo smokes two packs or 40 cigarettes per day and that his family history showed signs of coronary disease.
Rep. Glenda Ecleo, Ruben's mother, appeared surprised at the medical interpretations, prompting Alesna to apologize for her "shocking" revelations in court.
Alesna, the third specialist who attended to Ruben, reported that the pumping ability of Ruben's heart has decreased and is now close to being abnormal.
"He has premature ventricular contractions. It's a bit serious. He could drop dead anytime," she said on the witness stand.
She recommended that Ruben be subjected to a myocardial imaging and a scan that could detect blocks of the arterial vessels, among other specialized tests pertaining to the heart.
"If he dies (because he is immediately sent back to jail), we don't want to be blamed for not giving him the best standards of care," she also said.
At this point, though, Alesna could not say whether Ruben needs a heart operation.
Cudoy, for his part, said that although his simple physical examination did not show any heart problems, he noted a suspicious mass growing in Ruben's abdomen.
He recommended more examinations.