Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into six hospitals' alleged rejection of a senior citizen who had difficulty breathing and later died at home.
"The DOJ has already directed the NBI to investigate the incident," Guevarra said in a message to reporters on Wednesday.
Guevarra said he instructed the NBI to submit a report within 10 days.
"The DOJ will also act promptly on any similar complaints for alleged violation of the law penalizing hospitals for refusing to administer initial medical treatment in emergency cases," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte cited this incident when he warned officials of government hospitals of dismissal or suspension if they are found to have rejected any patient.
Ladislao Cabling, 65, died in his home in Nueva Ecija after six hospitals refused to admit him when he was suffering from difficulty in breathing.
His daughter, Girlie, said the hospitals claimed they no longer had a vacant intensive care unit (ICU) room for her father, who had asthma. He was not even given first aid, she said.
"Wala na po kaming nagawa. Sabi niya, umuwi na lang ika tayo. Wala pong araw, oras po [namaalam na siya]... Naawa po siguro siya sa sarili niya," she said Tuesday.
In one of the hospitals, a nurse told her sibling their father was positive for COVID-19 even without performing any test, Girlie recounted.
Duterte said hospitals that refuse patients will face charges.
“Alam ninyo mali ‘yan, so ‘pag totoo ‘yan, I will really ask the government prosecutors to prosecute you. Alam nyo na hindi pwede ‘yan,” the president said.
He ordered government hospitals to provide a makeshift room for the sick.
“Lahat ng magkasakit – heart attack, appendicitis, pumutok ang utak – especially government hospital, my order is must accept admission. You fail on that, I will relieve all of you in the hospital and you consider yourselves suspended because the written order will follow," Duterte said. --KBK, GMA News