Privilege Speech of Rep. Luz Ilagan, Philippine Congress

Privilege Speech of Rep. Luz Ilagan
International Day of Action for Women’s Health (28 May)
26 May 2014

I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege as women the world over mark the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28.

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues there can never be a more opportune time to bring our attention to the dire situation of healthcare in our country amid threats of intensified, large-scale and fast-paced privatization. Last week, leaders of nations gathered at the World Economic Forum with no less than Philippine President Benigno Aquino opening and hosting the event.

At the WEF, President Aquino minced no words in the government’s intent to further involve the private sector, multinationals and big businesses in various public interests such as utilities, transportation, housing, education and healthcare.

Mr. Speaker, we in Gabriela Women’s Party find this extremely alarming. The situation of healthcare in the country, much as it is wanting and deteriorating must never allow the intrusion of profit driven private sector businesses.

Totoong nakapanlulumo ang kalagayang pangkalusugan sa ating bansa subalit kahit kailan, Ginoong Speaker, mga kapwa kinatawan, hindi ito dapat samantalahin para bigyang daan ang panghihimasok ng mga negosyong ang higit na layunin ay humuthot ng kita kaysa magbigay serbisyo.

Bakit namin nasabi ito?

While it is true Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues that we are in a country where:

– six out of ten die without any medical attention annually
– 80,000 babies die every year of easily preventable and curable causes
– nine mothers die everyday of childbirth and pregnancy-related complications
– of our 41,000 barangays only 17,000 have barangay health stations.

To address all of these, there is a need to create the infrastructure, invest in healthcare facilities and in our healthcare professionals. Many would claim that our government cannot spend for all these and thus, we need to get the private sector involved.

We in Gabriela Women’s Party beg to disagree.

Hindi mabibigyang solusyon ng panghihimasok ng pribadong sektor sa serbisyong kalusugan ang krisis sa kalusugang nararanasan ng ating mamamayan, laluna ng kababaihan. Sa katunayan, higit pa nitong palalalain ang krisis at higit na maipagkakait sa ating mga kababayan ang libre, angkop, batayan at kagyat na serbisyong kalusugan, ang kampanya namin sa Gabriela Women’s Party na tinatawag naming LABKA.

Mr. Speaker, mga kapwa kinatawan, nakakatakot at nakagigimbal ang maaaring mangyari kung hindi natin sasagkaan ang pribatisasyon ng serbisyong kalusugan.

What will privatization mean for poor mothers and their families?

In a proposal, the 700-bed capacity Dr. Jose Fabella memorial hospital, where mothers share beds and where roughly 20% of babies in Metro Manila are born, will be transferred to a 400-bed capacity facility in a proposed Department of Health compound.

In hospitals that are partly privatized or corporatized like the Philippine Heart Center and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, laboratory services are already 20-30% more expensive than the regular public hospital.
Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, if we are hell-bent on giving the poorest Filipino mothers and their families free and appropriate healthcare, privatization is not the solution!

Sa pribatisasyon, tuluyan at tahasang inaabandona ng pamahalaan ang obligasyon nitong tiyakin na natatamasa ng mamamayan kanyang batayang karapatan sa kalusugan.

Ang diumano’y pagkilala sa karapatan ng kababaihan sa serbisyong kalusugan sa desisyon ng korte suprema na ipatupad na ang Reproductive Health law ay nababalasubas sa kabikabilang pagsasapribado ng mga ospital, lying in at iba pa. Sa katotohanan napakaliit na ng serbisyong natatamasa ng ating kababaihan, at tuluyan pang mawawala dahil sa pribatisasyon.

The World Health Organization recommends that we allocate 5% of our Gross Domestic product to health care spending. Yet we have been allocating less and less for public healthcare.

Mr. Speaker, colleagues, as we commemorate the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, I enjoin each one of us in this chamber to make the commitment against the privatization of government hospitals. I enjoin each one of us to ensure the allocation of sufficient funding for the creation of infrastructure, facilities and the remuneration for healthcare professionals.

Thank you and good afternoon.


– 2014 budget: P87.1 billion has been allocated to the DOH, almost 50% higher than their 2013 allocation but more than 40% of this is allocated to Philhealth

– Philippines currently spends about 2 – 2.5 percent of GDP on the country’s health needs.

– DOH, the DOF, DBM, and NEDA signed Circular 2013-1 that hastens the privatization of more than 26 other government hospitals, including Fabella Hospital.

– On POC Privatization: The new hospital facility will be built and maintained under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) arrangement. The proposed hospital will be called the “Center for Bone and Joint Diseases, Trauma and Rehabilitation Medicine” capable of providing international quality orthopedic and trauma care according to DOH.

The P5.7 billion-project was approved by President Aquino on September 8, 2012 and involved a 25-year contract for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 700-bed hospital inside the National Kidney and Transplant Institute compound in Quezon City.