By KAREN ANN MACALALAD
Photos by KAREN ANN MACALALAD AND CARLO MANALANSAN
Despite the June 9 deadline for its eviction, protests to save the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital intensified today as sectoral groups joined health workers and community members in opposing what is believed to be the hospital’s closure.
Progressive groups including Migrante, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Bayan Muna and Alliance of Concerned Teachers Partylists formed a symbolic barikadang bayan (people’s barricade), to signify their vigilance to keep the public hospital in operation.
The issue of Fabella’s closure is an issue of the general public who are the ones availing of its services, said Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes of Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR).
“Health Secretary Janette Garin should be reminded that the hospital is owned by the citizens who pay taxes,” she said.
Meanwhile, KMP secretary general Antonio Flores noted that the neglect and imminent closure of Fabella has similarities to the plight of peasants, whose children are malnourished and their families being displaced due to land conversion and grabbing.
Incoming Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo also supported the protest by reiterating that basic social services must not be profit-oriented.
“The government must always serve its people,” she said.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said that on June 8, a representative of the Fabella administration denied the abolition of the hospital and said it was still admitting patients.
In spite of this, the administration insists that Fabella has unsafe buildings and must be transferred, the group added.
The group said a legal staff of the Home Guarantee Corporation (HGC) neither confirmed nor denied any information when members of the Save Fabella Hospital Movement went to their office. HGC is an agency under the Office of the President, which claims to have the mandate to sell and market the Old Bilibid Compound where Fabella is located.
This leaves then the uncertainty of the Fabella operation, the job of the health workers, and the residents’ housing, the AHW said in a statement.
“We, the workers, ask help from the affected communities to communicate with the employees and health workers of Fabella to save the hospital from demolition,” KMU Secretary-General Jerome Adonis said during the program.
Protesters also marched toward the back gate of Fabella after getting report that the road was being cleared to move out equipment from the hospital. A community official, however, clarified that the area was only being cleaned for sanitation.
On June 1, the hospital started moving out equipment, such as beds and oxygen tanks, but stopped when activists and residents blockaded the hospital’s main gate.
The protesters urged the community residents to remain vigilant.