Appeal for immediate release of hospital donations
Your Excellency, President Rodrigo Duterte: First, we wish to thank your administration for finally facilitating the release of hospital equipment and supplies donated to Department of Health-affiliated Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center (ASTMMC) in Tandag, Surigao del Sur. This arrived in April 2015, and impounded by Customs for 18 months. A second donation to Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City, is reportedly still unreleased. The donor is Virginia-based Montero Medical Mission (MMM), led by Dr. Juan Montero, MD.
But Dr. Montero still has a problem. Customs wants the government-affiliated ASTMMC to pay a staggering P1.2 million in fees and charges. This ballooned from P559,435.69 as of May 2016. The increase was partly due to delays in Customs processing, courier service, etc., leading to compounding penalties, until it was ridiculously considered abandoned by Customs for nonpayment of fees that the hospital and donor could no longer afford to pay.
In frustration, Dr. Montero abandoned the hopeless Davao City case but pursued the Tandag case because the donation included P17.5 million worth of prosthesis equipment which would benefit thousands of poor paraplegics.
It is unfortunate that humanitarian donations for poor Filipinos are held at bay by government fees and charges. The Montero case is actually the tip of the iceberg. Many donations from US-based Filipino doctors, who want to give back to their countrymen, suffer the same fate. The government has a mandate to help the poor, than to make more money for itself at the expense of the poor. Please, Mr. President, pakiusap para sa mahihirap na makikinabang (a favor for beneficiaries who are poor). We appeal to you to have the Tandag and Davao City donations released at once. We also appeal to you to come up with an Executive Order freeing future humanitarian donations from charges and Customs red tape.
BERNIE V. LOPEZ, [email protected]
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