Health workers vs disease and poverty
We health workers agree with the decision to remove Chief Justice Renato Corona from office.
However, we do not agree with the suggestion that the government refrain from pursuing criminal cases against Corona now that he is no longer immune from prosecution. This is an insult to our justice system, and a perversion of the impeachment process. Corona’s conviction should pave the way for greater public accountability and the prosecution of Corona’s patron: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
We are also dismayed by President Aquino’s insistence that he will not sign a waiver to allow public scrutiny of his bank accounts. Indeed the President is all talk but no action, a leader who does not lead by example. His stubbornness not to support the Freedom of Information bill authored by Rep. Teddy Casiño is a major stumbling block to transparency in governance. Both acts are making many Coronas and Arroyos in public office happy, and Mr. Aquino has become a witting accomplice to corruption that he said he is fighting to stop.
We also believe that his administration should not stop at getting rid of Corona. Many issues remain unresolved. Extreme poverty and the comatose of our public health system are two of them. We are still a country where seven out of 10 patients die without receiving any medical attention, where women still die of pregnancy-related causes, and where a good number of children die of preventable diseases. The government’s plan to privatize and corporatize public hospitals through public-private partnership is anti-poor; Rep. Anthony Golez’s House Bill 6069, which seeks to convert 26 public hospitals into government corporations, and a counterpart measure filed by Sen. Franklin Drilon in the Senate are a dangerous proposition. Should such bill be passed, health care services in the country will become restrictively very expensive to poor patients and will deprive them all the more of their basic right to the health services they so badly need.
Adding insult to injury, the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Health have joined forces in reducing the benefits of health workers—benefits that are mandated by the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers. Up to this day, our hazard pay is being “held hostage” inside the air-conditioned rooms of the DBM, even as we frontline health protectors are defenseless against the constant threat of diseases that we have to treat, and against the indignifying blows of poverty.
Indeed, justice is not being served in this country. We have to continuously fight for it. It is always healthy to fight for and defend justice and righteousness.
—SEAN HERBERT VELCHEZ, RN,
president, National Orthopedic Center
Hospital Workers Union-Alliance of
Health Workers, Philippine Orthopedic Center, Maria Clara St., Quezon City
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