Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) expressed support to the planned nationwide walkout in government hospitals against corporatization and public-private partnership (PPP). The group also hit the Aquino administration for acting like an agent for big business and giving them lucrative contracts to run essential services at the expense of the people.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Health Alliance for Democracy (Head) and other groups in the public health sector are staging a nationally-coordinated walkout today. They are protesting the corporatization of 26 government hospitals and the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) and others through PPP.
Bayan noted that aside from hospitals, the Aquino administration is also pushing for the privatization of the LRT and MRT system, generation of electricity, provision of water services, construction of public school buildings, construction and operation of toll roads, etc.
These plans lead to higher user fees for essential public services. For instance, a ₱10-fare hike in MRT and LRT looms next year as government bids out PPP contracts for expansion, operation and maintenance. In Mindanao, President Aquino wanted to privatize the hydropower plants and declared that the people have to shoulder higher power rates to supposedly address the energy shortage. This despite the fact that electricity rates in Mindanao are already higher than Hong Kong and other major Asian cities. Government also allowed major increases in toll rates, with more hikes expected next year.
While the people are saddled by exorbitant user fees, big business interests with close ties to Aquino are further consolidating and expanding their monopoly over essential public services. Tycoon Manny Pangilinan, for example, is among the interested investors in the ₱5.6-billion POC contract as well as in the ₱60-billion LRT 1 project. Pangilinan, together with San Miguel Corp. of presidential uncle Danding Cojuangco, and long-time family friend the Ayalas and Lopezes, among others have positioned themselves to bag profitable contracts in government’s PPP program.
Bayan vowed to oppose the privatization and corporatization of government hospitals and other key services and infrastructure. It said that experience in the past three decades clearly shows that such corporate takeover only hurts the poor and further enriches the rich. There is also no guarantee of less financial burden for government or more reliable services. ###