Break­down in ser­vices

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION -

When a nurse em­ployed at a gov­ern­men­trun hospi­tal has to post pho­tos on Face­book to call for help from con­cerned govern­ment agen­cies, it tells Filipinos just how dis­mally un­re­spon­sive and help­less their em­ployer — in this case, the Toledo City govern­ment — is to­wards their plight.

And the Toledo City Hospi­tal’s op­er­a­tions didn’t take a mas­sive hit be­cause of a nat­u­ral calamity like an earthquake or su­per typhoon just like what hap­pened to the Cebu City Med­i­cal Cen­ter back in 2013 when it had to re­duce its op­er­a­tions af­ter the build­ing sus­tained dam­age courtesy of a 7.2-mag­ni­tude earthquake.

No, the hospi­tal lost its 120 job or­der em­ploy­ees that con­sisted of nurses, doc­tors and staff due to the Toledo City govern­ment’s fail­ure to en­act a bud­get that would have al­lo­cated at least P2 mil­lion for the hospi­tal’s salaries alone.

Un­der the law, in the event that a lo­cal govern­ment fails to pass a bud­get for a cer­tain fis­cal year, it is as­sumed that they would op­er­ate on a reen­acted bud­get from the pre­vi­ous year.

Sur­pris­ingly that wasn’t the case with Toledo City Hall which even failed to en­act last year’s bud­get in time in or­der to en­sure that op­er­a­tions like those of the Toledo City Hospi­tal will con­tinue un­ham­pered.

That was the point made by sus­pended Toledo City Mayor Sonny Os­meña when he re­it­er­ated that act­ing Mayor An­to­nio Yapha could have fa­cil­i­tated the pas­sage of last year’s bud­get in or­der to avoid sit­u­a­tions like what hap­pened to the Toledo City Hospi­tal.

Owing to public up­roar, the Toledo City Coun­cil had to scram­ble and pass this year’s bud­get which they failed to do three months af­ter the mayor was sus­pended last Septem­ber.

Their fail­ure to pass the bud­get on time stemmed from a com­mit­tee re­or­ga­ni­za­tion with the ap­pro­pri­a­tions com­mit­tee as­signed to one councilor only last Jan­uary.

But the of­fi­cial rea­sons given merely mask the ugly specter of po­lit­i­cal ri­valry which is far more avoid­able but just as if not more dam­ag­ing than a nat­u­ral calamity.

In fact, the hospi­tal’s chief, Dr. Bonito Zano­ria, only re­al­ized the full im­pact of the March 5 memo he re­ceived from the mayor’s of­fice when he saw the hospi­tal hall­way turn into a ghost town, with only 19 or 20 em­ploy­ees in­clud­ing him­self avail­able to ser­vice the pa­tients, scores of whom had to be turned away and trans­ferred to the Balam­ban provin­cial hospi­tal lo­cated 20 kilo­me­ters away.

The Toledo City hospi­tal’s plight doesn’t only re­flect badly on the Toledo City govern­ment but also on the Capi­tol which pri­or­i­tized the mod­ern­iza­tion and up­grad­ing of hospi­tal ser­vices in the prov­ince in its agenda.

With hospi­tal op­er­a­tions ex­pected to nor­mal­ize in the next few days, Toledo City res­i­dents will have to as­sess what hap­pened and de­cide in next year’s elec­tions — pro­vided there is one — if their in­cum­bent of­fi­cials are worth vot­ing for again.

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