The Eversley Childs Sanitarium Upshot: The Battle for Equity and Justice
I.The Eversley Childs Sanitarium
The Eversley Childs Sanitarium, situated in a sloping terrrain in Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City, is a government institution for leprosy patients requiring hospitalization, confinement, and rehabilitation.
Spacious and studded with the trees and various plants in a total land area of approximately 52.1387 hectares, the institution was built in 1982 by the Leonard Wood Memorial with most of the funds donated by the late Mr. Eversley Childs, an American philanthropist of New York, U.S.A. On that year, the construction started and finished two years later. It was turned over to the Philippine government on May 30, 1930 with 540 admitted leprosy patients. It is the second largest and oldest sanitarium in the whole country. It originally and exclusively functioned as a leprosarium, but a new and more effective treatment was developed in 1981 (Multi-durg Therapy) which led to the dwindling of the number of the number of cases. Since 2002, it expanded this roleto become a 50-bed secondary hospital offering other non-leprosy services including medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Thus, today, it serves as a regular secondary hospital.
For many centuries now, Eversley Childs Sanitarium has been a home for poor and sickly people- especially leprosy patients. It has furnished these people proper medication, free medicines, enough food and the best attention they needed. It has, too, never omitted to accord its employees the salary, allowances and benefits they procure. These transactions were made feasible under the equitable and genuine management of the Chief of Sanitarium.
With the issuance of the Department of Health (DOH) Department Order no. 72, s. 1994 redirecting the roles and responsibilities of the sanitarium to be not only a lead agency in the National Leprosy Control Program but also to provide emergency in-patient and out-patient treatment for non-leprosy cases from the general populace in its immediate catchment areas, Eversley became a general secondary hospital. It serves more than 3,000 in-patients and almost 20,000 out-patients a year aside from custodial care of about 200 leprosy patients.
II. Chief of Sanitarium (past to present)
Jose N. Rodriguez, M.D. 1930-1937
Jose Tolentino, M.D 1937-1951
Artemio Ruñez, M.D 1951-1954
Antonio Jovellanos, M.D 1954-1967
Antonio Perez, M.D 1967-1977
Cesar J. Viardo, M.D 1978-1986
Conrado C. Pineda, M.D 1986-1991
Ulysses D. Dakay, M.D MHA 1991-2002
Gerardo M. Aquino, Jr., M.D MHA 2002-2006
Primo Joel S. Alvez, M.D, FPSP, MM 2006-present
III.The Eversley Childs Sanitarium Employees Union
It has been almost one and a half years since Eversley Childs Sanitarium suffered tremendous mismanagement problem, abuse of authority, oppression, and even to include inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties. Hospital funds had been wasted. Services continued to deteriorate. As a result, the Eversley Childs Sanitarium employees constructed a union together with community residents in the compound. They bonded themselves together and formed the Eversley Childs Sanitarium Employees Union (EVSEU) in 2008. The union was registered and accredited with the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Its first Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) with the hospital administration was signed and registered with the CSC. The hospital employees have received all benefits due them by law and by virtue of the CNA. For several years, the union has worked harmoniously with the hospital administration in rendering quality health service to its leprosy and non-leprosy patients.
EVERSLEY CHILDS SANITARIUM EMPLOYEES UNION OFFICERS & BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Nancy R. Sabuero
Pythagoras M. Zerna
Leny B. Maramara
Miriam C. Abonales
Elmer S. Inoc
Pyr R. Jakosalem
Felixberto E. Eltanal
Marjorie S. Yaun
Marylou R. Mascariñas
Joel N. Namoca
Leonila G. Baconaje
Celerina L. Arnan
IV.The Beginning of the Struggle
Dr. Primo Joel S. Alvez took over the position of Chief of Sanitarium III from Dr. Gerardo M. Aquino, Jr. in 2006 when the latter assumed the post of Chief of Hospital of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Center (VSMMC) after the retirement of Dr. Filomena delos Santos.
Dr. Joanari T. Riveral also became the assistant Chief of Sanitarium after he was transferred from the Department of Health (DOH)-Center for Health Development (CHD)- Central Visayas where he worked as regional coordinator of the leprosy program.
The conflict between the union and Dr. Alvez and Dr. Riveral started when Dr. Alvez, as the Chief of Sanitarium representing the leprosarium, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the 8990 Housing Development Corporation, a private entity, for easement, to allow the latter to connect the drainage system of its proposed subdivision, the Deca Homes-Mandaue Prime, to an existing drainage system within the leprosarium. Dr. Riveral and Dr. Alvez signed the MOA.
Mr. Felixberto Eltanal, Supervising Administrative Officer, wrote an open letter on April 30, 2009 and another letter on June 3, 2009 to Dr. Alvez pointing out the latter was not authorized to sign the MOA. State Auditor Ms. Avelina Ang of the Commission on Audit also said in a meeting on May 29, 2009 with him, Dr. Alvez and Dr. Riveral that the MOA was null and construction of the drainage should be stopped.
On May 4, 2009, the union had a general assembly and passed a resolution which in essence agreed and supported the statements of Mr. Eltanal in his April 30 letter to Dr. Alvez. On May 18, 2009, the president of the union, Ms. Nancy R. Sabuero, sent a letter to DOH Regional Director Dr. Susana K. Madarieta informing her that the open letter of Mr. Eltanal remained unresolved. Another letter, May 28, 2009, to Dr. Madarieta reiterated the concern of the union on the issue. Feeling all exhausted, the union, through its president, again sent other letters on June 8, 2009 and on January 8, 2010 after there was no response from her.
The ECSEU supported Mr. Eltanal’s opposition to the MOA, saying that it violated DOH no. Administrative Order no. 2006-0034 that agencies under the DOH (leprosarium) are not authorized to enter into agreement with private persons binding government real property in any contract of easements. The union vigorously opposed it to be detrimental, disadvantageous and onerous to the interest to the hospital, and claimed it adversely affected the community residing within the area. The Jagobiao Urban Poor Association (JUPO) Incorporated, submitted a Letter of Appeal to Sec. Francisco Duque on June 1, 2009 opposing the MOA.
Engr. Miguel T. Gerson of the DOH also pointed out in a memorandum to Dr. Madarieta that Dr. Alvez had signed the MOA without any authority as it was beyond his functions and duty as Chief of Hospital.
Despite the opposition, Alvez pursued with the implementation of the agreement and the drainage system was constructed.
On January 7, 2010, Ms. Avelina Ang issued an audit observation memorandum (AOM) to Dr. Alvez declaring the MOA as a violation of the said DOH administrative order. The union, on February 8, 2010, gave a copy of the AOM to Dr. Madarieta.
V.ECSEU Passes its Grievances
On January 20, 2010, the ECSEU formally filed a joint-affidavit administrative complaint against Dr. Alvez and Dr. Riveral for abuse of authority, mismanagement, gross neglect of duty, and other violations of the pertinent Civil Service Rules.
The complaint includes the following:
1. Abuse of authority in entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the 8990 Housing Corporation.
2. Reassignment by Dr. Alvez of a security guard for the sole purpose of having his own personal guard in his quarters.
3. Violation of the directives to adopt cost cutting measures and conservation especially in electric consumption. Dr. Alvez had caused the installation of excessive and unnecessary lighting materials in his quarters, thereby increasing the electric consumption and electric bills of the sanitarium. A report on asessment of the electric consumption by Dr. Alvez in his quarters was prepared by Mr. Mario Lendio and Engr. Namoca, hospital electrician and OIC-Maintenance Unit.
4. Untimely expansion of hospital services despite the fact that the sanitarium could not cope with the needed financial requirements, causing a delay of salaries of the employees and personnel due to lack of funds which adversely affected the delivery of basic services to the patients especially those with leprosy.
5. That leprosy patients in the sanitarium complained about the delay of their services, their supplements, medicines and daily allowance for their food consumption.
6. Illegal, unreasonable discharge and dismissal of gratuity workers and ex-para trooper janitorial services in the sanitarium.
Letters from the leprosy patients and the gratuity workers of the leprosarium written on January 9, 2010 and January 10, 2010, respectively, were attached to the complaint.
On January 29, 2010, Atty. Jeffrey G. Doyongan.OIC of the legal Section of the DOH-Regional Office issued a memorandum to Dr.Alves and Dr.Rivera to require them to submit their counter affidavit lor comment under oath within three days of receipt of the administrative compliant filed by union. Dr. Alves wrote a letter to Atty. Doyogan on February 2 , 2010 acknowledging the latter’s memorandum and signifying that his lawyer would submit his counter affidavit in due time.
However.Dr. Alves’s lawyer, Atty.Geovanni S. Omega filed a motion for extension of time to file the counter-affidavit on February 18, 2010, saying that his services were engaged by Dr. Alves on February 18, 2010 and he needed until February 28, 2010 to file his counter-affidavit. Atty.Doyogan granted the motion.
VI.Preliminary investigation report of the DOH
Last March 12, 2010, Atty. Doyangan issued a prreliminary investigation report, pointing out the following items, namely:
1. That the MOA was signed without legal authority and without prior permission from the DOH Regional Director and the Secretary of Health. This act violated the law and disregard of established rule. (Grave Misconduct)
2. That Dr. Alvez failed to present any support to his claim that the reassignment of the security guard to the vicinity of his staff house was to monitor the peace and order situation in the area. Such support could be police reports that crimes were committed. Assignment of a security guard as his personal guard in his quarters is an act showing domination or excessive use of authority. (Oppression)
3. Dr. Alvez failed to reason out the cause of the increase of the electric consumption from year 2008 average monthly consumption of 19,680 kwhr/month to 21,720 kwhr/month in 2009. (Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations- Austerity measures in DOH DM No. 2005-0141) and (Inefficiency and Incompetence in Performance of Official Duties in implementing the said DM).
4. Dr. Alvez failed to refute the reason why the salaries of employees were delayed and the deliveries of basic services to the patients were affected. (Inefficiency and Incompetence in Performance of Official Duties).
5. Dr. Alvez failed to present supporting documents that the employment of the janitors terminated was based on contract and that their dismissal was with a cause. The janitors had worked for 14 years. Dismissing employees without justifiable reasons and considerations simply because they supported the clamor for a change of management is an act of oppression.
The same investigation report recommended the filing of formal charges against Dr. Alvez and Dr. Riveral which was approved by Dr. Madarieta.
Last March 17, 2010, Dr. Madarieta issued a memo to Dr. Alvez, notifying him that the DOH has filed charges against him with the administrative offenses of the following, namely:
1. Grave Misconduct
2. Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations
3. Inefficiency and Incompetence in Performance of Official Duties
VII.Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations
The sanitarium has allotted a budget of P450, 000 for the salary of job-order workers. The maximum number of job-order workers to be hired should not exceed 50. However, Dr. Alvez hired 150 J.O workers outnumbering the regular employees.
According to the ECSEU, these workers were hired by Dr. Alvez in his own personal choice. They were directly assigned by him to any departments/areas without considering the opinions and advices coming from the committee or OIC’s in every department. Even if a certain area has enough workers, Alvez insisted his decisions. As what the regular workers have observed and conversed with the J.O workers, they don’t talk much and they don’t show any actions against the management. The regular workers believed that these people come from distant places. As to their performance in duties, the regular employees rate them 20 out of a 100% compared to the gratuity workers before. They seem to be not qualified to the jobs they are working for.
In Dr. Alvez’ actions and decisions made, the regular employees are greatly affected. Committees are now unable to function because the chief took over their positions taking away their rights and responsibilities including their benefits. They do not have any problem with the salary they receive because it is sufficed by the government. They appeal regarding their benefits because since Alvez took the chief position, they have not received their benefits until now. Later then, they discovered that what they were supposed to receive were given to the exceeding number of job-order workers since the hospital’s budget has been greatly destroyed.
VIII. Inefficiency and Incompetence in Performance of Official Duties
Dr. Alvez abused his power through the different efficiencies that he committed. The root of complains and reason why the flame became bigger is because of the untimely expansion of hospital services. Because of this, it has wasted a lot of funds and affects the monthly regular budget for MOOE.
The hospital was known to cure the leprosy patients and was about to help them in a way that they will recruit them to have a job and give them hope to continue their lives but unfortunately, Dr. Alvez fired them and gave much attention and opportunity to their relatives and to the people whom they don’t even know the backgrounds and the worst part was they don’t ask for any application forms and hired them directly without the consent of the other officials of the said hospital.
Conducting a meeting without the awareness of the regular workers is a big slap in their faces for Alvez made them feel useless and worthless in a way that they can’t do their jobs as what they used to deal with it because of the over recruitment of the job order workers.
Leprosy patients are their priorities. But today, they only gave cash ration to the patients instead of the usual and practiced food ration. As a result of this, it makes the health of the patients more risky.
a.Dismissal of Employees
In the time under the past chiefs of ECS, gratuity workers were hired in the sanitarium. These persons were affected by leprosy who have been treated. They work as nursing aides, janitors, or utility workers, receiving a gratuity compensation of P450 a month for four-hour job daily aside from the food allowances. They were 52 and 14 of them were hired by the Paratroopers Agency and received P1,653 a month as compensation and increased between the year 2002-2006 to P4,600 a month for an 8-hour daily job.
By the time of Dr. Alvez, all those 14 employees were fired without any valid reasons. Two of them became gratuity worker again but received a monthly compensation of P450 instead of P4,600 a month they used to received as part of the agency.
In dismissing the employees, Dr. Alvez reasoned out that the workers’ contracts in the agency were already expired. Workers made a letter and based on it, they had worked for fourteen years. Dr. Alvez, failed to present any document that their employment are based on contracts and that considered to be dismissed.
Another order was implemented by Dr. Alvez, that all the gratuity workers should have a signing of contract of work every 3 months as renewal. Workers find it unfavorable that they may not last as gratuity or lose their work if they are not asked to sign the contract of work again.
b. Reassignment of Security Guard
There were reports of incidents happened within the sanitarium compound. Some of the incidents were cases of thefts, countless waterpipes at the hospital were stolen, drug addiction became common and cellphones were stolen from the staff house.
Record show that by the time, there is already an assigned security guard on duty round the clock to do roving in the entire sanitarium, and that reassigning of security guard into his quarters for the sole purpose of having his own personal guard is an extra.
During the group’s appointments with the union’s officers, there was an easy access to documents and press statements about the issue. These workers were very open for interviews regarding their side on the matter. As a matter of fact, the group was able to gather enough data and interview reliable sources for the compliance of the investigation. These were the subjects of the interview- Ms. Nancy Sabuero, Mrs. Estrella G. Alegre, and Mrs. Marylou R. Mascariñas, who are officers of the ECSEU.
On the other hand, an appointment with Dr. Alvez and Dr. Riveral was a failure due to certain instances wherein they kept on disregarding on giving their side about the case. Attached with these papers is the Counter-affidavit filed by Alvez and Riveral containing their official statement on the complaints against them.
The case is on-going.
Preliminary hearing last September 28, 2010 was rescheduled to October 28, 2010.
Fernandez, Rodah Mae
Yurag, Rowella Mae
Ampo-on, Ma. Queenie Snooky
Llegunas, Irish Joan
Solon, Sheila Marie