Press Release
November 7, 2017

Hontiveros seeks probe of Cebu hospital accused of asking deposit before treating wounded cop

The principal author of the recently passed Enhanced Anti-Hospital Deposit Law is asking the Department of Health (DoH) to investigate an incident involving a Cebu-based private hospital which was accused of asking for deposit before treating a wounded police officer.

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is in Cebu on Tuesday to attend a Youth Conference on Family Planning where she is one of the main speakers, expressed concern regarding a report that Chong Hua Hospital allegedly asked for a deposit before treating Police Officer 3 David Naraja Jr., who was hit in the face after he was shot by a gun-for-hire during a police operation last October 16.

Chong Hua Hospital denied the accusation saying that the family of Naraja merely "misinterpreted" the hospital's partial billing amount quoted by its staff as a demand for deposit.

Naraja was later transferred to the Cebu Doctors' Hospital where his hospital expenses were covered by the hospital management.

"Zero tolerance"

"This is no way to treat our selfless police personnel who are risking life and limb to keep us all safe. Whether this incident was intentional or not, this must not be tolerated. There should be zero tolerance for cases such as this," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros, who is also the Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said that she has already requested a dialogue with Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 and the DoH Regional Office. The Senator said that her office will also talk to the private hospital to get its side.

"Through these dialogues, I hope to get to the bottom of this issue and for the appropriate authorities, especially the DoH, to find ways of being more proactive in responding to reports such as this, and properly implementing the Enhanced Anti-Hospital Deposit Law. The policy of asking for any deposit as a prerequisite for confinement or medical treatment of a patient must become a thing of the past. It has no space in any democratic society," Hontiveros said.

Under Hontiveros' law, stricter penalties would be served on hospitals that would demand any deposit or other forms of advance payment in exchange for medical treatment of an emergency patient. Penalties now include imprisonment of up to four to six years and fines ranging from P 100,000 to P 1,000,000. The measure also gives authority to the DoH to revoke the license of a health facility after three repeated violations.

It was reported that Chong Hua Hospital already issued a written apology to Naraja and PRO 7. However, Espino said that the hospital's letter of apology will be referred to Camp Crame's legal office for resolution.

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