IATF clarifies no takeover of private hospitals, other establishments under national emergency
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease clarified on Wednesday there will be no takeover of private hospitals and other establishments under the new law granting President Rodrigo Duterte necessary powers to address national emergency due to coronavirus disease pandemic.
In a press briefing, IATF Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that under Republic Act No. 11469 or the "Bayanihan to Heal as One," there was no word as "takeover."
He said what is stated in the law was just a directive.
"Consistent with Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution, when the public interest to requires, direct the operation of any privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities including passenger vessels and, other establishments, to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, quarantine centers, medical relief and aid distribution locations, or other temporary medical facilities; and public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel and other persons," the new law read.
It said that the management and operation of the enterprises shall be retained by the owners, who shall render a full accounting to the President or his duly authorized representatives of the operations of the utility or business as basis for appropriate compensation.
The Act also assured "reasonable compensation" to the owner or possessor of the property if damage is incurred in complying with the directive after the situation has stabilized or at the soonest time practicable.
However, if the enterprises unjustifiably refuse or signify that they are no longer capable of operating their establishments for the purpose stated in the law, the "President may takeover their operations subject to the limits and safeguards enshrined in the Constitution," RA 11469 said.
Nograles said the government needs all the resources that it could get.
He assured that when time comes that the government would need the help of the private establishments, it would coordinate with them.
"We are here to help. So, I don't think there will be a problem," he said.
Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosita Vergeire, in the same press briefing, said the government might tap the help of the private hospitals when there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
But she encouraged COVID-19 patients to go to the government hospitals as they are "equally capable."
She reiterated that COVID-19 referral hospitals are the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, which allotted 130 beds; and the Philippine Lung Center, which initially dedicated 40 beds.
She said the DOH is also fast-tracking the Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium, previously known as the Tala Leprosarium, to become a referral hospital for COVID-19 patients.
"We are also looking at other hospitals now, especially in other regions of the country," Vergeire added. Celerina Monte/DMS