TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – A Sangguniang Panlalawigan member hit Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba for allegedly “politicking” the “closures” of three hospitals in Baggao and Abulug towns.
Board member Crispin Barcena of the 1st District of Cagayan sees the closure of hospitals as a “political maneuver” of Mamba, challenging him to likewise close the district hospital in his hometown Tuao.
“Why didn’t he close the district hospital in his own town, “Barcena told Bombo Radyo-Tuguegarao manager Eliseo Collado.
Barcena said the closure of the hospitals in Abulug and Baggao showed that health sector is not a priority of the Mamba administration and warned the Cagayanos of an alleged impending closure of other hospitals in Aparri, Alcala, Gattaran and Sta. Ana.
“We can increase the funds of these hospitals and likewise its manpower if the reasons given by the provincial executive are the unavailability of funds and the absence of manpower,” Barcena said.
He said that in Abulug alone, 2,000 individuals have signed a petition against the closure of the district hospital in the said town.
In Baggao, Barcena said the closure of two hospitals will make it difficult for residents to bring their sick even to the nearest hospital in the 1st district.
While there are rural health units in all municipalities, these institutions are only open during office hours and not on a 24 hour basis, the board member said.
‘There were no public consultations on the closure of these hospitals. As board members, we were not even informed by the executive body,” Barcena said.
In recent years, flooding have become a natural occurrence in the town near the foot of the Sierra Madre mountains that most of its far-flung barangays are isolated.
‘Merging, not closure’
Responding to Barcena’s criticisms, the Cagayan provincial information office said that alleged closure of all district ‘ hospitals’ in the province is in fact a simple case of merging to enhanced delivery of health services.
Rogelio Sending, officer-in-charge of the Cagayan Provincial Information Office said such health institutions are not actually hospitals but are mere clinics and the closure of the said hospitals is actually to upgrade its level as hospital to improve its services to the Cagayanos.
‘There is no closure,” Rogelio Sending, Officer-in-Charge Provincial Information Office, told Bombo Radyo-Tuguegarao in an interview Thursday, September 22.
“There is no political persecution. Why don’t they give Governor Mamba the chance to do what he knew is best for the province. They don’t even respect the individual as Governor,” Sending said.
Under any Philippine health standards, the ‘hospitals’ are mere infirmaries or clinics which services are very limited.
While Barcena said there are 16 district ‘hospitals’ in the province, Sending placed the figure at 14.
Sending claimed these hospitals failed to get license from the Department Of Health and cited the absence of an ambulance to service the sick as in the case of the Matilde Olivas District Hospital in Camalaniugan town.
He added that in the case of the three hospitals in Baggao, two have been closed and the one in Barangay Tungel is on the process of accreditation as level one hospital before its eventual classification as secondary hospital.
He said a doctor has been assigned in Tungel on a 24 hour service and potential patients in the area can now confine themselves there without going to the CVMC as the infirmary has been upgraded into a Level 1 hospital.
It was learned that Ballesteros District Hospital is upgrading itself as a Level I hospital and is now on the process of purchasing an ambulance.
“All efforts are geared toward upgrading health services for our people. Besides, the Governor is barely on his three months as chief executive,” the former broadcaster said.
In a separate interview, Board Member Perla Tumaliuan of the 3rd District said she supports the move of the Executive branch to maximize utilization of resources. She questioned the continuing existence of such hospitals which in reality cannot provide basic health services to the Cagayanos.
Sending said these so-called hospitals are in fact mere infirmaries or clinics and does not cater to the people who really are in need of medical attention.
Infirmaries are places where the physically weak, particularly the aged are brought for some treatment.
Only recently, the Provincial Health Board convened for the first time in years, to discuss priority health issues affecting Cagayan.
“All chief of these hospitals can attest as to the lamentable conditions of their hospitals,” Sending said.
Meanwhile, Board Member Perla Tulaliuan of the 3rd district throws her support to the planned merging of such hospitals if only to maximize use of government resources.
“I am for the merging. What’s the use of so many hospitals if they can’t really provide medical attention to the Cagayanos. Merge these hospitals so that the resources can be concentrated, thus services can be improved further,” Tumaliuan, in a phone interview, said. Benjie De Yro/TNF