As a product of the Jesuit educational system and of the University of the Philippines I have always been taught these things: ask questions. Question the questions. Do not just criticize, find ways to solve or be a catalyst for the solution to the problem. Below is a brief summary of what has been going on in our province with regard to the state of our district hospitals. I have placed links to the actual article regarding the issues concerned so that people can read the entire news article and judge for themselves the validity of my claims.
Well, as the Cebu Daily News editorial on April 6, 2010 stated, Teddy’s death was unfortunate. What is even more unfortunate is that it could have been prevented by the provincial government. I maintain my condemnation against Gwen Garcia because at the end of the day, Gwen Garcia has been looking for another means to supposedly address the medical needs of the people of Cebu. The worst part is, there have been warning signs just months before the death of Teddy Villarimo when a nurse, who remained anonymous, griped about the unfair practices of the Powerline Manpower Services which Glenn Soco’s family owns and which supplies the nurses and doctors in all the district hospitals of the province of Cebu. An anonymous response to this news article even wrote (coincidentally, on the day of Teddy’s death) that “tinu-od man. wa man klaro mang sweldo sila... Dako kau ug kick-back pirme kuwang ang kinsinas...d pa jud mo hatag ug payslip” (it’s true, they (Powerline) don’t properly pay our salaries. They get very big kick-backs and we don’t get the full amount every payday…they don’t even give us a payslip). Another newspaper article again questioned the relationship of Powerline with Capitol, and two people commented, albeit anonymously, confirming that there is something rotten in the way Powerline treats its employees.
Powerline has been in contract with Capitol for about five years, as a December 17, 2009 article cited. One of the reasons cited by the nurses and other medical personnel in district hospitals in not accompanying patients in ambulance transport is that they are supposedly not insured if something happens to them.
Five years? Capitol has been dealing with Powerline for five years and yet Rory Jon Sepulveda is only vaguely aware of the contents of the contracts of Powerline with the medical personnel they hire?? Five years they have done business with Powerline and yet they only care to check on the issues hounding Powerline now??? Only now are they bothering to question if the nurses hired by Powerline are indeed insured??
It should not surprise us that the provincial government has taken on a very ambivalent attitude towards the medical needs of the people of Cebu. As early as 2007 Gwen Garcia had already made it clear that part of long-term plan was to privatize the 18 district hospitals of the Province of Cebu. In the same news article, it was said that “Garcia believes that running a hospital is not the best way to address the health needs of the people. She said the government can better serve its constituents by insuring them through the PhilHealth.” Further, the article reported that Garcia reiterated that the provincial government will no longer be giving financial assistance for medicine purchase to LGUs in the province. “Nganong mohatag man og financial assistance ang probinsiya nga kahibalo man ko nga 30 to 40 percent ra sa budget ang ipalit ana nila og tambal. Unya di pa gyod ta kasiguro kung di ba na fake nang mga tambala,” she said.
Indeed, Garcia has been very reluctant to release money when it comes to the medical needs of the people of Cebu. In a particular bidding announcement for medical supplies and equipment, P4,690,857.25 was approved for Drugs and Medicines for the first quarter. Seems big, but it becomes really small if we divide that by 18 district hospitals. Then it becomes P260,603.18 per district hospital. That would mean a district hospital only has P86,867.72 worth of drugs and medicines in one month.
I know exactly what Rory Jon Sepulveda will say. The “concerns” regarding Powerline in the past were anonymous and were not worth investigating. Soco even said they will only investigate if there is a formal complaint filed. Well, now that someone died and someone has dared to ask questions, the Capitol is scrambling to investigate on the true state of the district hospital in Argao.
Again, only now? Gwen Garcia has been governor for 6 years and Powerline has been contracted for 5 years and yet they only have the mind to investigate now? Is this really how they view the medical needs of the people of Cebu? As an afterthought??