Court orders hospital to release contract

A regional trial court judge has ordered the head of a government hospital to make available to a dialysis patient a copy of a contract involving two suppliers of hemodialysis equipment.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bohol, 7th Judicial Region, Branch 47 Presiding Judge Suceso Arcamo ordered Dr. Jose Teofilo Arcay, Director of the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) to “furnish and provide” Nonito Magsayo, a dialysis patient with a copy of the service contract of Fresenius Company and Toray Medical Company.

The order issued on July 19, 2016 cited the advocacy for transparency and accountability of President Rodrigo Duterte and the “Freedom of Information” as the basis for the sixteen page order.

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EXECUTIVE ORDER

Arcamo stressed that all government agencies under the executive department should set an example to “furnish, publish and provide the public of copies of government contracts, projects and other business transactions as a matter of transparency and accountability in public service”.

Arcamo quoted in his order Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on June 30, 2016 “I abhor secrecy and instead advocate transparency in all government contracts, projects and business transactions from submissions or proposals to negotiation, to perfection, and finally to consummation”.

Magsayo filed a civil case for Injunction, Preliminary, Mandatory and Prohibitory Injunction, Temporary Restraining Order and Damages against GCGMH represented by Arcay for their failure to provide copies of the service contract between the two hemodialysis equipment suppliers.

The petition also included issues that involved alleged administrative lapses in the implementation of policies, guidelines, rules and regulations in the hemodialysis section of GCGMH.

Arcamo gave due course to the demand of Magsayo for a copy of the service contract “as a matter of right as guaranteed under section 7, article lll of the 1987 Constitution”.

However, the order dismissed the petition on alleged mismanagement of the hemodialysis section of GCGMH on the grounds that “there is actually no urgent need for judicial intervention” and petitioner went to court “without exhausting the administrative remedies available to him”.

SET AN EXAMPLE

Arcay refused to provide copies of the contract to Magsayo because these were private matters/transactions between the hospital and the supplier.

According to Arcay, “under the law, only those who are parties to the contract and have direct legal interest thereto have access to the same”.

The court emphasized that the refusal of Arcay to provide Magsayo a copy of the contract as it is a private transaction “is not a valid justification” since it does not involve the security of the state.

Arcamo exhorted the respondents that the executive department should set an example and not serve as a hindrance to the noble objective

The copy of the service contract, as ordered by the court, should be given to Magsayo within fifteen days from receipt of the order. (Chito M. Visarra)



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