Breakdown in services
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.