Campaign vs BGHMC privatization steps up


BAGUIO CITY — Welcoming brewing public discussions on the national government’s plan to privatize the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) along with 25 other major public hospitals in the country, the Chestcore (Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region) steps up its campaign on the “No to Privatization of BGHMC”.

This, despite the harassment its officers and staff are again experiencing from elements believed to be members of the State security forces.

“We have to take on this very important peoples’ issue amidst continuing harassment because privatization has very adverse effects especially on the poor”, Romella Rasalan, Chestcore Executive Director said.

This campaign took off from the railroading action of Congress to pass the bill to corporatize 26 hospitals nationwide last May 16, 2012, Chestcore, along with other progressive peoples’ organizations, continue to conducting a series of activities to educate people of their rights to health and hopefully convince government to buckle down from its aggressive move to privatize BGH and 26 other government hospitals.

Last July 23 on the occasion of PNoy’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Chestrore joined a program of Gabriela Partylist, a BGHMC partner for its Medical Funds at the BGHMC to inform the public on the issue. It also launched a Petition-signing against the bill on the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Week and the fourth Anniversary of Katribu Partylist last August 25, 2012 at the Peoples’ Park.

Chestcore also welcomes the city council’s move to invite hospital chief Dr. Manuel Factora for inquiry into the issue. Rasalan said they will definitely join this public discussion to forward their position, push for a City Council resolution to oppose the move.

Recently, Dr. Manuel Factora expressed need for public-private partnership and therefore, corporatization to source out funds for patient needs because “government facilities are not abundant”.

Chestcore, however, posits that increasing national health budget to 5% of the country’s GDP is the answer and not corporatization or privatization.

Chestcore will be co-sponsoring with KASARIAN of the University of the Philippines-Baguio a forum on the issue on September 13 at the Bulwagang Juan Luna Hall. The speakers will be Rep. Teddy Casino who has staunchly opposed the move in Congress and Dr. Gene Nisperos of the National Network Opposed to Privatization of Pulic Hospitals.

A Dinner Forum to discuss the issue among medical professionals will follow. These fora are the groups’ ways of making Baguio citizens think: “where will poor patients go if BGHMC is privatized?” as we celebrate Baguio Day on September 1.

In a related development, other progressive groups in the region are alarmed at renewed harassment of the Chestcore staff and office, especially as the institution is now leading the anti-BGHMC privatization campaign.

Last July 11, 2012, Chestcore, received on its office cell phone, a text message intimidating the staff. Also, last August 13, 2012, Milagros Ao-wat, Head of the Medical Services Desk Program and the staff who received a series of death threat texts in December of 2010, and in January and July of 2011, has again received a series of threatenning text messages.

Having read the obituary of Ao-wat’s brother who died last July 26, the texter tauntingly condoled with her and warned her of her continuing commitment as an NGO worker.

Katribu Partylist Regional Spokesperson Sam Anongos condemnd these continuing rights violation, saying “It is very deplorable that those who dedicate their lives to advocating for and advancing people’s welfare as well as fighting for genuine development for our indigenous communities are continuously harassed”.

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary-General Jude Baggo says “These are clear cases of intensified intimidation and harassment against Chestcore and a continuing implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, the government counter-insurgency program which tags militant leaders and groups as members of the New Peoples Army.

Chestcore has long been subjected to threats, harassments and intimidation. Last 2011, it launched a campaign to “Stop the Harassment of Community Health Workers and all Development Workers”, and filed nine cases of threat, harassment and intimidation with the Commission on Human Rights –Cordillera Administrative Region (CHR-CAR). But recently, the CHR-CAR declared with finality the nine cases as “closed and terminated”.

“We will go to the CHR-CAR again and file these new cases with them and tell them that they were wrong and that they must perform their mandate to protect people’s rights”, Rasalan said. #


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