‘Forced incarceration’: American archivist responds to Las Piñas hospital amid passport issue

June 7, 2023 - 2:38 PM
PHMC_John Tewell
A screengrab showing the building of the Perpetual Help Medical Center in Las Piñas City in a video uploaded by the hospital on Facebook on Dec. 5, 2020; Archivist John Tewell in this photo on his Facebook account on May 8, 2023 (perpetualhelpmedicalcenterlaspinas/Facebook; john.tewell.pilot/Facebook)

“A 39-day forced incarceration.”

This was how photograph archivist John Tewell described his alleged situation when he was a patient of a tertiary medical center after the hospital released a statement addressing his claims.

The American antique photo collector on Wednesday responded to the Las Piñas branch of the Perpetual Help Medical Center (PHMC) which said that Tewell “agreed to relinquish his passport” until his bills were settled.

The archivist claimed that the promissory note the hospital referred to in its statement was “void” since it was “forced on a person using duress.”

“One question; how many out there [have] gone through a 39-day forced incarceration unscathed? And then turned rounded and charged the daily room charge rate by the captors?” Tewell said in a Facebook post on June 2.

He previously claimed that he stayed in the PHMC for 39 days after doctors had “released” him.

“Most of the response from Perpetual Help Hospital is lacking in truth,” Tewell wrote.

“To proceed, I need to stop with this until I have a good attorney representing me. Much of the hospital’s response is simply not true and it can be verified with official documents and photographs,” he added.

He then asked for recommendations on a lawyer who is “knowledgeable” about Philippine immigration amid his ordeal.

In a follow-up post, Tewell said he only wanted “to get past the bad things and back to working on and posting old heritage pictures,” referring to his pursuit of collecting and archiving antique photos.

“I do have saved hundreds, possibly a few thousand, important pictures I have not yet posted,” he added.

The archivist’s posts came after the PHMC addressed his claims in a May 29 Facebook post where he accused the hospital of “illegally” holding his passport and performing a “wrong” operation on him.

Tewell previously alleged that the medical center held him “against” his will for 39 days after doctors had supposedly ordered to release him.

“The Embassy worked to get it back by telling the hospital the Passport belonged to the USA, not me, and they wanted it back. The Hospital basically told the US Embassy to go to hell,” he said, referring to the United States Embassy in the Philippines.

Tewell claimed that he has documentation “for almost everything” he did to supposedly retrieve his passport. These include pictures of his “invasive surgery” which he claimed happened in the “wrong” area.

He also alleged he had documented the communication with the US Embassy, including two conference calls they had with the PHMC.

The hospital’s side

PHMC, in response, said that Tewell underwent procedures with them to “correct” his hip fracture and hernia from a previous major abdominal operation which it said was not performed in their institution.

The PHMC added that he was “advised for subsequent follow-ups as an outpatient but failed in this regard.”

The hospital also said it has “a notarized promissory note” signed by the antique photo collector, as well as a handwritten letter from him that stated “he agreed to relinquish his passport until his bill is settled.”

Moreover, it responded to a letter from Tewell’s counsel who demanded that the patient’s passport be released.

PHMC said it replied by saying that the patient or his authorized representative “may claim the document from our hospital.”

It added that “no one has appeared to claim his passport.”

“We tried to send him a collection letter last Feb. 22, 2023 but we were informed that he has moved out of his last known address,” the hospital said.

It maintained that it had provided Tewell “the best possible patient care and treatment.”

The archivist is known for sharing collections of old photos of the Philippines, including images documenting significant historical events like the Liberation of Manila and the Second World War.

RELATED: Las Piñas hospital responds to archivist John Tewell’s claims on passport, ‘wrong’ operation