By MARYA SALAMAT
A hundred doctors and medical professors on mass leave in UP-PGH (University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital), supported by UP and PGH employees, defied last Monday a memo issued by the ‘de-facto’ PGH director Dr. Enrique Domingo and a warning raised by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairman Francisco T. Duque III against their joining “disruptive” protest actions and taking part in mass leaves.
“Dr. Francisco Duque does not realize that about half of those doctors joining the mass leave are actually working for PGH without compensation and the other half are grossly underpaid and overworked professors. That’s right, with “no salary,” and most of them have been doing it for years. Many PGH doctors fondly call each other “WOC” as in without compensation. Most of the doctors are still serving their in-patients and still attending to their emergency or critically ill patients despite their leave. If Dr. Duque punishes these doctors then they have only succeeded in taking away free services being offered by these heroic 100 doctors of PGH and at best create living martyrs,” said Dr. Iggy Agbayani, an alumni of UP College of Medicine who worked for eight years as member of its faculty.
“The real sources of disruption in PGH services can be traced to the government’s diminishing health budget for public hospitals, even as the budgets for debt servicing and the military are continuously rising” said Eliseo Estropigan, Treasurer of All-UP Workers’ Union and Dr Edberto Villegas, retired professor and current lecturer in UP Manila.
Speaking before employees, doctors, interns and students of the University of the Philippines and Philippine General Hospital (PGH), they add that violating due process has also been another cause of “disruption” of health services.
As far as the protesting doctors are concerned, the problem is not their protest actions but the issues why they were compelled to act, in the first place. The doctors are protesting the lack of due process in removing the “legitimate” new PGH Director Dr. Jose Gonzales.
(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
They likewise condemned Dr. Domingo’s orders to cut off the electricity and water services to the Director’s Office, where Dr. Jose Gonzales is holding office while awaiting the result of his court case against his untimely replacement by Dr. Domingo.
From 73 topnotch doctors and medical professors who started going on mass leave of absence on March 29, their number increased to 102 in a week’s time. But upon breaching the 100 mark, the doctors stopped their calls for colleagues to go on mass leave. Others have “to hold the fort,” they reasoned, referring particularly to the other hundred of the 200 who had voted yes to the UP College Council resolution recognizing Dr. Jose Gonzales as the legitimately elected PGH director.
The protesting doctors are supported by the All-UP Workers’ Union, Faculty Union, Student Councils in UP, medical students and interns and other student organizations.
(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
The struggle for democracy and due process in UP-PGH appears destined to be a “protracted struggle,” one they are supporting anyway because it is right, said Dr Erlinda Palaganas, president of All-UP Workers Union who came down from Baguio City to join the doctors’ protests.
Although leaders of supportive organizations in the UP Community have been explaining that their struggle is for upholding due process and democratic ideals, and not necessarily based on the personality of the contending directors, others still asked for Dr. Domingo’s “resignation.”
Dr. Domingo’s name was excluded in the December 18 election of the Board of Regents because he was reportedly not yet qualified nor “tenured.” He became the youngest undersecretary of the health department a few years ago after he gave way to other congressional candidates in Pampanga, his home province, in a past election, Dr. Iggy Agbayani told Bulatlat.
A fellow Kapampangan, Dr. Ted Mendoza, Vice-President of All-UP Academic Employees Union and professor of Agronomy in UP Los Baños, urged Dr Domingo to step down and preserve his honor as well as that of a “true Kapampangan.” Dr. Mendoza cited GMA as an example of an “illegitimate Kapampangan.”