By DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — Multisectoral groups and individuals gathered at the Peoples Park to join the rest of the Filipinos in a nationally coordinated protest action against the privatization of the country’s 26 public hospitals including the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) last November 19.
Groups who joined the protest include the Association of Deans of College of Nursing (ADPCN), Philippine Nursing Association (PNA), Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore), Innabuyog Gabriela, Katribu Indigeneous Peoples Party List, Organisasyon dagiti Nakukurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (URNOS-Kadamay), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Piston, religious sectors, students from Saint Luis University School of Nursing and Systems Technology Institute (STI).
According to Mia Rasalan of Chestcore, protesters in Manila, Samar and Davao marched from the national office of the Department of Health (DoH) to Malacañang. She added that privatization is part of President Benigno Aquino III’s program of Private Public Partnership that shows government’s abandonment of its responsibility and accountability to the people.
Mary Grace Lacanaria, Dean of SLU School of Nursing and President of ADPCN stated that privatization of public hospitals will lead not only to inaccessibility to health care but also to health education. She said that students will suffer and will pay higher affiliation fees to hospitals where intern students are deployed if these are privatized.
She said that every student pays P20 for every three days of duty in BGHMC while in Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) which is already semi private, students have to pay P240 for every three days duty.
“What more if BGHMC will be privatized?” she asked. Almost all health care services in hospitals are provided by students not mentioning the basic materials like gloves, thermometers among others which the students provide personally.
Cassandra Baton, a 2nd year nursing student of SLU College of Nursing added that basic rights are equal to life. She added that health care is a basic right which the government must provide for the people.
Batton also questioned where the P44 million budget allocated for health went and why is the president ignoring the needs of the students. “Why does the president not see the needs of students who are called the hope of the future land?” Batton asked.
Samuel Anongos, Spokesperson of Katribu party list said that not even half of the 600 clinics in the Cordillera region have complete medical facility, personnel and medicines. He said privatization of BGHMC will make it hard for the Cordillerans specially to those who come from remote areas. He also said that Cordillerans have experienced lack of medical attention and they know what privatization will give them.
Doctor Darby Santiago, convenor of Samahang Operasyon Sagip (SOS) states that protests are essential in guarding the basic rights of the people specially to health. He added that health is supposed to be free for the people because it is incorporated in the health budget of the government.
He said that action protests helped a lot in preventing government from selling public hospitals such as the Lung Center of the Philippines and other laws affecting the rights of the people. He added that the fight for basic right is getting stronger because the masses supports it. # nordis.net