Tension over land for government health facility in Iloilo escalates

ILOILO CITY – Tension has escalated over the land for a government health facility in San Joaquin town, Iloilo province.


VILMA Santacruz-Getuya (center) argues with former DOH Secretary now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin (left) at the main entrance of the original site of the San Joaquin Hospital in San Joaquin town, Iloilo province on Monday, June 10.  Getuya wants to revoke the land donation she made for the site of the government hospital.  Looking on is Iloilo Provincial Board Member Val Serag.  (Tara Yap)

Vilma Santacruz-Getuya has put up a “No Entry. Private Property” signage and cordoned off the original site of an extension hospital of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), which is under the Department of Health (DOH), on May 18.  

Getuya, the mother of San Joaquin Vice Mayor Marvigrace Getuya-Lago, is seeking to reclaim the land she allegedly donated to the WVMC.  

But the local government unit (LGU) of San Joaquin claimed it was Joaquin Santacruz, the father of Getuya, who actually donated the parcel of land for the San Joaquin Hospital.

Getuya claimed that she has the right to physically possess both the land and the building because it has been abandoned and in violation of the deed of donation.

“It has to be for the court to decide,” said Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a former DOH Secretary, said.

Garin emphasized that a private person cannot just declare a government health facility as hers or physically take it over even if she allegedly donated the land.

Getuya tried to block Garin from entering the health facility on Monday, June 10, when Garin inspected the area to check the remaining medical equipment inside.

While Garin was able to go inside and check the remaining medical equipment, men working for Getuya were able to again put up fencing wires in an attempt to reclaim the area.

At least five families linked to Getuya are allegedly temporarily living inside the facility.

Jinky Jalandoni-Cope, WVMC legal counsel, said that no actual legal document has been issued showing that Getuya has revoked the deed of donation.

Hospital management has not even met or spoke to Getuya but only received a letter from her legal counsel informing them that she wanted to revoke the donation.

“This matter could be discussed and resolved if we sit down,” Cope said on Tuesday, June 11.


A ‘No Entry. Private Property’ sign is placed at the original site of the San Joaquin Hospital in San Joaquin town, Iloilo province.  The alleged land donor wants to revoke her donation and physically take over the government health facility.  (Tara Yap)

The hospital formerly managed by the WVMC has been incorporated into the San Joaquin Mother and Child Hospital located across the original site. It is currently managed by the Iloilo provincial government.

The WVMC said that the building for the original hospital site is not abandoned as claimed by Getuya.

The WVMC, in collaboration with the San Joaquin LGU, has earmarked funding to make it as a primary health care facility. But the implementation suffered a setback because of the pandemic.

The WVMC is planning to use the site for the Bagong Urgent Center Care and Ambulatory Services (BUCAS) Center, a new program of the DOH.

Garin called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help secure the government health facility.

She said the San Joaquin Municipal Police Station is not willing to be deployed to the area as it is allegedly afraid of being taken into court by Getuya.