Privatization-promoting, red-tagging new health secretary ‘big insult’ to health workers

A group of health workers are opposing Teodoro Herbosa’s appointment as Department of Health (DOH) secretary, calling the development a “big insult” to the service.

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ignored their call that his administration’s health chief must have an excellent track record on good governance, accountability, integrity and not involved in any anomalous transactions in the government.

The group added in a June 8, 2022 statement that the new health secretary must be pro-people, pro-health workers and audient and responsive to the legitimate issues and concerns of the health workers for safety, protection, rights and welfare as well as the health of the people.

“Obviously, [Marcos’] appointment of Herbosa is a clear manifestation of the President’s extreme lack of concern for the lives, health, and welfare of the health workers and the people,” the AHW said in response to Malacanang’s announcement of Herbosa’s appointment last Monday.

“Herbosa’s appointment is a big insult to health workers and indigent patients who rely on free and quality health services in public hospitals and other health facilities,” AHW added.

‘Business mad red-tagger’

Health workers have not forgotten that as DOH undersecretary from 2010-2015, Herbosa promoted the sale of the Philippine Orthopedic Center, abolition of Fabella Hospital and privatizing to some extent the operations of government hospitals, AHW said.

Herbosa previously chaired the DOH Central Office’s Bids and Awards Committee and cluster head of Metro Manila and Southern Luzon Public-Private Partnership Projects, the group revealed.

“Privatization of public hospitals and other public health services will result to higher income generation by collecting higher fees from the patients while health workers will be subjected to more inhumane working conditions,” AHW said.

At the height of COVID-19 pandemic, Herbosa was appointed as an adviser of Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and must be among those who must be blamed for the “inefficiency, criminal negligence and failure of government’s COVID-19 response, the group added.

AHW said the government still does not have a comprehensive plan on how to eliminate the virulent disease.

AHW also complained that the new DOH chief is an “ardent red-tagger” who targeted health workers who demanded for their much-deserved COVID-19 benefits, protection and welfare especially during the surge of pandemic.

In a Tweet, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan president Renato Reyes Jr. also recalled Herbosa’s controversial October 2020 statement branding demands for justice for Baby River Nasino’s early death as “cadaver politics.”

“Appointing him will surely fatten the bellies of corrupt officials, and will further worsen the dismal condition of health workers and the people, the AHW said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)