MANILA, Philippines – The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) staged a picket in front of the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday to call for the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).
The picket was in support of the petition filed last February 3 by indigent patients, health professionals, and the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives that urged the high court to stop the privatization of the 700-bed POC, the only hospital in the country that specializes in orthopedic disorders.
The privatization move is part of the Aquino administration's public-private partnership thrust in funding priority projects.
The high court has not yet acted on petitioners' plea for TRO, and has merely asked respondents Malacanan and Department of Health (DOH) to file their comment on the petition and the prayer for restraining order.
During the picket, AHW stressed that the POC privatization will deprive indigent Filipinos of access to health care; the group lamented how a privatized POC will only set aside 70 beds for indigent patients and 420 beds for sponsored (Philhealth) patients compared to the current 562 beds or 85% capacity for indigent patients.
Megawide-World Citi Consortium won the P5.6-billion concession agreement for the new POC project, and will design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the facility for a period of 25 years.