MANILA - A group of hospital workers from public Quezon City hospitals, under the umbrella group Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), staged a picket in front of the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday to urge magistrates of the high court to thumb down the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).
The protest formed part of a series of pickets staged weekly by AHW, in an effort to obtain a favorable ruling in a pending petition against the privatization of the 700-bed capacity hospital.
"We are one with the POC health workers and patients and the Filipino people in our fight against the privatization of POC. We hope the Supreme Court justices will hear the growing clamor of the people and open their hearts to the interests of our poor patients," AHW national council member Bonifacio Carmona said.
Indigent patients, public health workers, health professionals, and the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives filed a petition last Feb. to question government's move to privatize the POC.
Petitioners argued that the move violates the people's right to accessible health care and will gravely deprive poor Filipinos.
POC is the only hospital in the country specializing in orthopedic disorders. Government pushed for its privatization as part of the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) thrust of the Aquino administration.
A P5.6-billion concession agreement for the rehabilitation of the POC was won by Megawide-World City Consortium; the firm will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the hospital for a period of 25 years.
Those who oppose it lament the supposed plan to allocate only 70 beds for indigent patients under a rehabilitated POC; the current allocation for indigent patients at POC is 562 beds.