The daughter of a fallen frontliner has filed raps against the chief of the Cainta Municipal Hospital (CMH) in Cainta, Rizal before the Office of the Ombudsman for his refusal to conduct COVID-19 tests on staff even after they have been exposed to patients who are positive of the disease.
Mary Joie Cruz, represented by lawyers from Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS) Inc., filed the complaint against Dr. Antonio Jayson Sierra for Gross Neglect of Duty and Conduct Unbecoming of a Public Officer and asked that he be removed or suspended from service.
Joie’s mother, Ma. Theresa Cruz, was a nurse at CMH and she was one of the many frontliners who lost their lives because of COVID-19.
When she investigated her mother’s case, Joie was dismayed over the “backwards and underdeveloped” system her mother and several other frontliners had to endure.
Joie’s mother requested Sierra to conduct COVID-19 tests on three separate occasions after she was exposed to a positive patient. The nurse reported that she already had a fever and loss of taste, but Sierra’s attitude was “dismissive.”
Sierra also chastised Joie’s mother when she expressed her concerns about the COVID-19 situation in the hospital. Later on, he offered to give her a rapid test, which was contrary to the guidelines of the Department of Health (DoH) on frontliners.
Joie sadly learned that her mother had to buy her own personal protective equipment because the hospital was unable to provide her with a suit that would fit her large frame.
A month after her mother passed away, Joie was even informed by the DoH that her mother’s death was not reported to the Epidemiology Bureau.
Joie said that Sierra failed her mother in a time that was most critical to frontliners. “As a holder of a public office, Dr. Sierra has an obligation aside from ensuring that a good health care service is given to public constituents of Cainta but also to ensure that the health workers under his supervision are given fair treatment in the workplace, just compensation, special risk allowance, and safe working conditions most especially in this time of pandemic,” she said.
Joie added in her complaint that her mother’s story is not an isolated case, and even before the pandemic broke out, the health care system of the country was already rotten and corrupt because of nepotism, maltreatment, and corruption. If anything, Joie said that the pandemic only amplified the long-existing issues.
Dada Grifon, media officer of IDEALS, hopes this complaint will serve as a wake-up call for government leaders to effectively respond to the pandemic because so many frontliners have already died in service.
“Our organization’s call is for the government to prioritize the protection and rights of all the Filipino frontliners who are risking their lives in this fight,” said Grifon.