PRRD threatens to arrest erring mayors and close down hospitals

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Photo Source: PCOO

MANILA—Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Monday threatened to arrest mayors who are not doing their job and not following orders from the Department of Health (DOH) to contain the spread of coronavirus disease-19 (Covid-19) in their respective areas of responsibility. 

In a late night televised press conference with members of his cabinet, Duterte lambasted mayors who claim they have their own way of fighting the virus.  “Sabi ko na ipaaresto ko ang mga mayor na magsabi na mayroong silang sariling batas. Ang batas ng DOH lang ang sundin ninyo na ginampanan nilang tatlo ni Secs. Lorenza, Año at Galvez,” President Duterte said.  

The president was referring to Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Security Adviser; DILG Sec. Eduardo Año; and, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., Chief Implementer of the National Action Plan Against Covid-19.

The president was alarmed of the growing trend of Covid-19 infections in Metro Manila partly because some local chief executives have failed to strictly implement the order of the DOH for maintaining physical distancing, staying at home, covering the face with appropriate masks, washing of hands always, and eat nutritious foods, among others healthy practices.

The DOH observed that many people in Metro Manila are seen loitering around and not keeping with the distancing requirement despite under enhanced community quarantine.  Cases of confirmed Covid-19 infection in the country as of April 13 have reached to almost 5,000 mark, most of them are from Metro Manila. “Hindi ko kayo papalabasin hanggang matapos ang crisis na ito o may anti-body na pangsangga sa virus,” the president continued.

In another development, PRRD also warned hospitals who refuse to admit patients.  “Huwag ninyong gawin yan at seguradong pupuntahan ko kayo at ipapa-aresto at isarado ko kayo,” he said.    

The president was reacting to the case of a certain Ladislao Cabling, 65, from Nueva Ecija who died of pulmonary complications, which may not be associated with Covid-19 after six hospitals refused his admission.  His daughter Girlie Cabling-Cagaoan, in a live TV interview said one night they rushed their father to a hospital because of severe asthma attack. Inside the emergency room a staff of the hospital said they could not admit her father because there was no available ICU room for him.  

“Tiningnan lang nila ang ama ko na naghihirap ngunit wala silang ginagawang first aid man lang at sinabi sa akin na wala silang available na room kaya pumunta na kami sa ibang katabing ospital, she narrated.  

They suffered the same fate in five other hospitals in Nueva Ecija that they approached for help until her father finally died. “Ganoon din ang ginawa at sinabi ng kabilang ospital na dinalhan namin.  Magkatabi lang po ang mga ospital at walang trapik kaya madali kaming nagpalipat-lipat.” 

The president may invoke existing laws that prohibit hospitals to refuse initial treatment of patients who are brought to their doorsteps. These laws may include Republic (R.A.)  8344-An Act Penalizing the Refusal of Hospitals and Medical Clinics to Administer Appropriate Initial Medical Treatment Act of 1997 as well as R.A. 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, which was signed by PRRD himself in 2017.

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