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MARAMAG, Bukidnon, Philippines--The stinking smell was made worse by the cramped and dilapidated room, where newly born babies, together with their mothers, share whatever space there is with other patients lying on old mattresses covered with pieces of carton.

The parents and their babies were supposed to have gone home but the Bukidnon Provincial Annex Hospital here has been holding them because they cannot pay their medical bills.

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has called on lawmakers to scrap the price control provision of the Cheaper Medicines Bill and avoid giving drug companies another excuse to delay the passage of the bill, which she has certified as urgent. The President also reminded Congress to buckle down to work on important legislative pieces instead of pursuing rehashed investigations.

Mrs. Arroyo said an “acceptable minimum” must be reached to ensure the early passage of the bill. “During the last Congress, it was passed but it did not reach the bicameral panel. Now, there is a bone of contention as to price control and maybe we can remove some controversial provisions so an acceptable minimum can be reached,” the President said in an interview after inaugurating the P289-million Zamboanga del Norte Medical Center yesterday.

Last week, the Senate committee on trade and commerce said that it was planning to create a regulatory board that would set a ceiling on prices of drugs.

In spite of the recent enactment of RA 9439 or the Hospital Detention Law, patients are still being detained in the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in Maramag for failure to settle their Hospital bills.

Resembling an unsanitized evacuation area, 18 patients lay in makeshift carton mats in the hospital’s abandoned out-patient department. A newly born baby who was previously diagnosed with Pneumonia, was again afflicted by the said disease due to the cramped and unsanitary conditions of the detention room. Some patients have been languishing in the dilapidated ward for almost three months amidst their willingness to sign promisory notes.

“With their present state of vulnerability, every day of the patients’ detention exposes them to infections and other hospital acquired diseases. The Health Workers of Bukidnon Provincial Hospital should know better than detain patients for an extended period in spite of any remaining hospital fees,” Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG) said.

“The Hospital Holiday threat posed by the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP) reduced private hospitals and doctors into mere businessmen who put profit first before public health forgetting their sworn oath to save and protect their patient’s lives from harm and injustice. The statement is a clear indication that private hospitals have become profit oriented – standing to gain from the ailments of its patients.” Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group (MAG) said.

In protest of Republic Act 9439 of the Hospital Detention Law, PHAP threatened to conduct a Hospital Holiday in which hospitals, except the Emergency ward will temporarily close down from once to three times each month until December should the private hospitals negotiation with the Department of Health failed. The Law seeks to ban hospitals from releasing patients on the grounds of non-payment of hospital bills.

"Suffering from paranoia and illusions of grandeur, the Medical Action Group recommends President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s immediate resignation and continuous bed rest.” Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director of Medical Action Group said.

The Medical Action Group, Inc. (MAG) declared its diagnosis of Pres. Arroyo’s state of mental health, claiming that aside from GMA’s poor health condition, She is apparently suffering from mental instability which renders her unfit and incapable of continuing the duty of running the nation.