“If you ask the health department–because we had a dialogue–the DOH admitted that is the same – corporatization is actually privatization. Right now, there are some aspects that are already privatized. If you corporatize, that means wholesale privatization.”—Rep. Luz Ilagan, Gabriela Partylist
By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines— For Dr. Leopoldo Vega, hospital director of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), he finds nothing wrong with House Bill 6069 or Senate Bill No.3130, both versions containing the proposed National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act.
Asked by Davao Today for his reaction, Dr. Vega said in a text message, the bill intends to “change (government hospitals) to corporate structure just like Pagcor, Philhealth, and that there is no intent by Congress to privatize.”
But for militant women’s group Gabriela, the proposed law will further “shackle” them to other “chains of oppression” like expensive health care, low wages and job insecurity of public health workers, increase of infant mortality and morbidity and maternal deaths.
Gabriela partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan further refuted Dr. Vega saying that “If you ask the health department–because we had a dialog–the DOH admitted that is the same – corporatization is actually privatization. Right now, there are some aspects that are already privatized. If you corporatize, that means wholesale privatization.”
Vega did not comment further on the effects of the bill to government hospitals such as SPMC. But the women’s group has a clearer picture of the bill’s intention.
“The idea came from the agenda of Aquino to privatize all government services, that is why we have to oppose it especially when it comes to issues on health and wellbeing; these are services that should be rendered by the government,” said Ilagan.
Ilagan further stressed that it is not viable for the poor to privatize government hospitals.
“Why should you privatize it? In fact, there are many aspects of health like the use of equipment, the increase of expenses in medicine and the contractualization of hospital workers. So corporatization is still part of the public-private partnership which is a principal program of Aquino. There is now a bill that aims to privatize 26 hospitals in the Philippines. These have many implications but the bottom-line is that the poor cannot go to these hospitals anymore.”
Gabriela held simultaneous last July 12 which included protests in the National Capital Region, Iloilo, Bacolod and Capiz.
In a picket held recently at the SMPC gates, the group portrayed themselves as women “shackled” in ball and chain like prisoners in the medieval period.
“The balls represent corporatization of government hospitals and the government’s public-private-partnership,” said Mary Ann Sapar, Secretary-General of Gabriela-Davao.
She added that the “The most likely effects of (the bill) is denial of services to those who cannot afford it — expensive health services which causes delays in treatment and death of patients.”
In Metro Manila alone, 50 women died last January because of such cases. (John Rizle Saligumba/davaotoday.com)World