February 3, 2013-Women workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with militant women’s group Gabriela and Ms. Monique Wilson, danced this morning in front of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Sta. Cruz Manila to protest the hospital’s privatization. As part of the One Billion Rising for Justice campaign against violence against women and girls, the workers, who carried placards that read “Save our mothers and babies!” condemned the privatization of the maternity hospital. “Everybody knows that Fabella is the go-to maternity hospital for poor women, including women workers. We are revolted that the Aquino government is planning to privatize this hospital, which could only result in higher fees,” said Nenita Gonzaga, KMU vice-chairperson for women’s affairs.
It was reported one week ago that the maternity hospital will transfer to a new building which was constructed by J. D. Construction in a P743-million deal under the Aquino government’s Public-Private Partnership program. “The government considers this hospital a burden that has to be done away with, not a service which should be improved. We are not sure if Fabella’s privatization will improve the service it provides to mothers and babies but we are sure that payment for it will be too much for poor mothers to bear,” Gonzaga said. The labor leader also condemned officials of the Department of Health for refusing to call the move “privatization” and saying that what’s being done is merely “partnership with the private sector.”
“The government may continue to claim partial ownership of Fabella, but the profit motive in the hospital’s operations is already being introduced and patients’ fees are sure to increase. Health Department officials want to the policy but not its name,” Gonzaga said. She called on Filipinos to voice out opposition to the privatization of Fabella, as well as of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and other public hospitals, through street protests and in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.“Filipinos who have at least an ounce of concern for the poor should protest Fabella’s privatization. Let us make our voices heard on this important issue,” Gonzaga said.