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Miriam asks for ‘qualified’ medical leave, vows to finish term

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SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, told her colleagues Friday that she intends to finish her term until 2016 on the condition that she would be on a “qualified” medical leave.

“I told you in a previous circular letter that according to the Civil Service Commission, it is the Senate which decides on how long an official leave from office can take,” Santiago said in a letter addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon.

“In effect, I would like to tell you that I have decided to remain in office until the end of my term in 2016, on condition that I shall be on qualified medical leave,” it added.

The letter, a copy of which was emailed to reporters, was also furnished to other senators according to Santiago.

The lady politiko said that a qualified medical leave would enable her to “discharge, on a certain priority basis, my important functions as senator, particularly as committee chair, for as long as I am allowed to do so by my condition.”

Santiago serves as chairperson of the Foreign Relations panel. Earlier Friday, her office even emailed an advisory that the senator would preside over a hearing on the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law on Monday morning,January 26.

“In the near future, I plan to go to Los Angeles and New York, particularly to the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, for second opinions or further treatment. Cancer is characterized by pain, bleeding, and fatigue,”  she said in her letter.

“I hope you will have no objection to my work plan,” concluded Santiago, who has been receiving treatment from a panel of doctors at St. Luke’s Global City and Makati Medical Center for her ailment.

She was diagnosed with cancer in July 2014.

Known for her wit and at-times fiery disposition, Santiago was still able to preside over various Senate hearings last year. She delivered privilege speeches, took part in plenary debates on the  proposed Freedom of Information bill, as well as filed 118 bills and 264 resolutions.

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