The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday ordered the "immediate reopening" of a private hospital in Angeles City, Pampanga after it was closed down by the city mayor for admitting 4 suspected COVID-19 patients from Quezon City.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, in a statement, said Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin, Jr.'s action to close down the Philippine Rehabilitation Institute (PRI) Medical Center was contrary to the recently passed Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
"[R.A. No. 11469] declares as a policy the immediate and ample provision of healthcare to COVID-19 patients, PUIs, or persons under monitoring (PUMs) and to promote and protect the collective interests of all Filipinos in these challenging times," the DILG said.
"Access to health care is for everyone regardless of demography and identity. Local chief executives (LCEs) should not discriminate against non-residents in times of crisis in the same way that doctors have an oath to save lives," it added.
The DILG reminded local officials not to exceed their authority, including the imposition of policies that obstruct regular hospital operations, whether public or privately-owned.
The statement also said Lazatin has since complied with the directive of the DILG and the said hospital is now operational.
On Sunday, the PRI said it cannot reject suspected COVID-19 patients from other areas after the mayor ordered its closure for supposedly accepting a virus-infected patient without the city government's knowledge.
"While we understand the good mayor’s plight and desire to only accept patients residing within Pampanga, we cannot do so as it goes against the directive of the [Department of Health] and PhilHealth," it said.
"More importantly, it is also against the Hippocratic Oath which is the Universal Code of Ethics of physicians in treating the sick, regardless of race, religion and ethnicity."