Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country, has expressed opposition to proposals to privatize government-run hospitals and health facilities.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, Caritas Philippines national director, said the government should prioritize the needs of the “under-privileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children.”
“The state shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers,” he said, adding that private hospitals charge higher prices for services than public hospitals.
The prelate noted that with the rising costs of basic commodities, “this would be another burden for ordinary Filipinos who are barely making ends meet.”
Meanwhile, Father Antonio Labiao Jr., Caritas Philippines executive director, stressed the need for more healthcare facilities especially in remote areas.
“We’re not only talking about building new hospitals but also improving government hospitals to make sure they are giving quality and affordable services to everyone regardless of their socio-economic background,” said the priest.
He said the government should also “improve the welfare of our health care workers so they would be more encouraged to serve their fellowmen.”
In 2018, the House of Representatives urged the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte to stop selling public hospitals to the private sector.
The call is contained in Bill 7437, “an act prohibiting the privatization and corporatization of public hospitals, public health facilities and health services, and providing penalties for violations thereof.”
The recommended ban on the privatization of public health facilities covers the four specialty hospitals in Quezon City, namely the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines and Philippine Children’s Medical Center.
The bill also mandates that 90 percent of the facilities’ bed capacity should be allotted to poor patients.
The measure imposes penalties for violators: a fine of P100,000 to P200,000 and suspension from public office for one year to two years for the first offense, a fine of P200,000 to P500,000 and disqualification from holding any government post for three years to six years for the second offense, and a fine of P500,000 to P800,000 and removal from public office and perpetual disqualification for the third offense.
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