Militants protest privatization of Orthopedic Center

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2014 08:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2014 04:35 AM

MANILA -- Militants and health workers protested in front of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) on Friday to contest the privatization of the hospital.

This, as the Supreme Court has ordered the DOH and Malacañang to comment on the privatization of the POC after hospital employees, the Alliance of Health Workers, religious groups, non-government organizations (NGOs), and POC patients filed a petition stopping the privatization of POC.

Jun Luna of Anakpawis called on the government to take the side of the poor. "Itong privatization na ito ay malaking insulto sa taong bayan," Luna said.

In December 2013, lone bidder Megawide Construction Corp - World Citi Corp. owned by Henry Sy got the notice award from the DOH for POC's P5.7-billion modernization plan.

A 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract was included in the package.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said the plan will make POC inaccessible to poor patients.

"Hindi ito para sa interes ng kababayan natin, pag-abandona ito ng responsibilidad ng gobyerno sa mamamayan," he said.

Meanwhile, those who were watching the rally like Dos Cabanatan, a nurse who works at POC, said he is not in favor of the privatization plan.

"Mas okay (ang) public, mas pabor sa mahihirap tulad ng mga taong walang pera, walang pambili ng gamot. Free kasi ang mga patients dito," he said.

Another employee, Winnie Grace Evan, also said, "Hindi makamasa, hindi afford ng mahihirap ang private."