Charges readied vs persons behind underground Pampanga hospital

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos, Aaron Recuenco, and Jeffrey Damicog

Malacañang assured the public that the Chinese nationals behind the underground health facility discovered in Clark, Pampanga, will be charged over their illegal operations.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the authorities arrested Hu Ling, 45, the alleged owner of the facility; and alleged pharmacist Lee SeungHyun, 38, for running the underground hospital inside the Fontana Leisure Park to treat their fellow Chinese affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Both were arrested on May 19 by joint elements of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection GroupRegional Field Unit (PNP-CIDGRFU), PNP Region 3, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) who stormed a villa where the illegal facility.

Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento, CIDG deputy director for administration, said they found three plastic bags containing used syringes and used testing kits apparently for coronavirus during the raid. This bolstered suspicion that the hospital was catering to patients showing signs of COVID19.

Police also found out that most of the medicines confiscated inside the raided establishment are all related to respiratory diseases. There were also testing kits found.

The Chinese patient whom the cops chanced upon in the area during the raid complained of headache and sore throat.

In his Thursday presser, Roque said that the Palace was alarmed by the incident.

“The Palace is alarmed. We have a law that says only qualified doctors can practice medicine in our country,” he said.

“Imprisonment also awaits those practicing medicine without a license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission,” he added.

Roque said the medicine being used in hospitals should also be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We will file a case against the arrested individuals because they were practicing medicine without a license and using drugs not approved by the FDA,” he said.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has been directed to track down foreigners who have been seeking treatment for COVID19 in the illegal facility.

“I have instructed the BI to coordinate with the PNP/LGUs (PNP/local government units) in tracking down these Chinese and other nationals who sought treatment from this unauthorized medical facility in Pampanga and who could still be dangerously roaming around,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Wednesday.

“If found, they will be brought to legitimate hospitals or quarantine facilities for proper treatment, without prejudice to charging those responsible for this illegal operation,” he said.

Police are now preparing a massive contact-tracing for possible COVID-19 infection of all the foreign patients who availed themselves of the services of the underground hospital.

But Armamento said they may start with the contact tracing based on the two arrested Chinese nationals.

“We are just waiting for the results of their tests (for coronavirus) and if they tested positive, then we will start the contact-tracing for all the people whom they had close contact with,” Armamento told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.

This was not the first time an illegal medical facility operated by a Chinese national was busted. Last month, Parañaque City filed four criminal complaints against a certain Yumei Liang for running his clinic without the necessary permits.

Yumei also reportedly violated the Sanitation Code, Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 2009; and the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.

Authorities were able to seize 470 boxes of Chinese medicine believed to be unregistered medicine for COVID-19 and HIV inside his clinic.

Meanwhile, Roque said President Duterte has ordered the FDA to act on drug applications, including traditional Chinese medicines, within 48 hours as the situation badly requires a cure for COVID19.

“During this time of the pandemic, if there is really an available cure, then we should act fast,” he said.