Workers picket PPP Center, hit public hospitals’ privatization

WORKERS led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket today in front of the Aquino government’s Public-Private Partnership Center in Quezon City to condemn the privatization of public hospitals, saying the move will increase the burden of workers already suffering from meager wages.

The workers voiced opposition to the first PPP project in the health sector, the creation of a private Philippine Orthopedic Center inside the National Kidney Transplant Institute compound in Quezon City, which will replace the government-run POC in Banawe Street in the same city.

To show their protests, the workers burned a giant image of a dextrose bottle with the words “Health Services for Sale” written across it.

“Workers have been going to government hospitals for much-needed health care. Where will workers and the poor go to when these are privatized?” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“The privatization of health services is a death sentence to workers and the poor. The Aquino government is condemning workers and the poor to big hospital bills, indebtedness, diseases and death,” he added.

“With their meager wages, workers are already finding it hard to meet their family’s basic needs. Hospitalization, which is already a heavy burden for workers and the poor, will become a even heavier,” he said.

The bidding for the 5.6-billion project, in which investors will construct and operate a 700-bed hospital, was started last Sunday when the documents for the bidding were made available to prospective investors.

“Who needs improved facilities and services when these are beyond the reach of workers and the poor? We also fear that the privatization of government hospitals will result in retrenchment of workers and contractualization of work forces in these hospitals,” Soluta said.

“There is only one way for health facilities and services to improve, for hospital employees to enjoy higher salaries, and for the public to enjoy affordable health care. And that is for the government to increase subsidy for health services,” he said.

“The Aquino government is again prioritizing the big capitalists’ profits over the people’s welfare. The PPP program will surely further ignite the poor’s anger at the pro-elite Aquino government,” he added.

KMU vowed to hold bigger protests in the coming weeks and months, saying it will stop only when the privatization of public hospitals is stopped and state subsidy for health services is increased.

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