DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — The city council approved Tuesday night a resolution opposing the corporatization of 26 public hospitals in the country, two of which are in the Davao Region.
Senator Franklin Drilon presented Senate Bill 3130 or the National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act for deliberation after the passage of House Bill 6069, authored by Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez, by the House of Representatives.
Gabriela Southern Mindanao and the Integrated Gender Development Office lobbied for the resolution with Councilor Leah Librado, chair of the city council’s committee on women, children and family relations.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party told MindaNews in a text message that with the passage of the resolution, “Davao City joins other LGUs (local government units) opposing this administration’s privatization agenda in different services.”
“Gabriela congratulates the SP (Sangguniang Panlungsod) of Davao in its committed stand to protect the rights of the people, especially the poor to accessible and affordable health services,” she added.
Librado, who authored the resolution, said in an interview the council was convinced that corporatization is similar to privatization based on the scheme that the government has been doing.
Privatization, she said is “depriving the poor people of their right to accessible health care. It is like making more patients die with supposedly curable illnesses, which also means rising the mortality rate.”
SB 3130 and HB 6069 will convert 26 government hospitals, seven of which are in Mindanao, to government-owned and controlled corporations, Gabriela’s Lyda Canson said during a joint committee hearing of the city council’s committees on health, and women, children and family relations in August last year.
Canson explained during the hearing that corporatization will allow the government “to enter into a contract with anyone without check and balance.”
Through the proposed law the government “will convert hospitals to income-generating corporations that will slowly remove the government’s subsidy.”
In the same hearing, lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna said the proposed law may result in the government passing its responsibility to provide health services to private entities.
“They know for a fact that what is constitutional is not always moral but what is constitutional will benefit majority of our people,” he said.
But Dr. Leopoldo Vega, chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) submitted to the city council a position paper supporting HB 6145 or An Act Instituting a Corporate Restructuring Program for National Government Hospitals, which was authored by House Deputy Speaker and Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza.
“Public hospitals—being wholly controlled, regulated and funded by the national government—are subject to the usual stringent government standards and limitations, which often stifle, instead of support, efforts at attaining efficient and effective hospital health care services,” the position paper said.
It added, “Examining the bill in its entirety, SPMC believes that the proposed measure will sufficiently address the varied issues relating to budget and performance efficiency.”
Vega also noted, “Indeed, while it is desirable for government to encourage private sector partnership given the enormity of the financial burden of maintaining the operations of public hospitals, it is not just right for the government to abdicate its essential function of providing health services to the people.”
Mary Ann Sapar, Gabriela Southern Mindanao secretary general, said they are happy about the resolution’s approval, noting that the councilors here had listened to the voices of the poor protesting the corporatization of public hospitals.
“We hope that other cities in the country will do the same so that congressmen, senators and President Aquino will know that the people are against the proposed law,” she added.
The public hospitals in the region to be affected by the bills are the SPMC and the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City.
The other government hospitals that will be affected are the Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Veterans Medical Hospital, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, Region Medical Center, Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research Medical Center, Jose B. Lingad Memorial Medical Center, Batangas Regional Hospital, Bicol Medical Center, Bicol Research Training and Technical Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center;
Jose R. Reyes Memorial Center, Rizal Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Visayas Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Caraga Regional Hospital, and Mayor Hilario A. Ramiro, Sr. Regional Training Hospital. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)