MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the government to file a comment on the petition to scrap the new measure that criminalizes hospitals requiring deposits or advance payments before treating patients.

The high court specifically directed the Palace and the Department of Health to submit its comment to the petition file recently by Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi).

The SC gave the respondents a non-extendible period of 10 days to comply with the order.

PHAPi filed the petition seeking the revocation of Republic Act No. 10932 or the Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law rendering hospitals and medical facilities refusing to conduct treatment and procedures with tougher penalties.

In their appeal, the petitioners claimed that the measure imposed unto them as “unreasonable” and “amounts to denial of due process.”

Fines and penalties which could reach a million pesos are considered “unjust, excessive and oppressive, and thus amounts to denial of due process” by the petitioners.

"The act or omission being penalized by the questioned law is simply the failure on the part of a health care provider to render medical help in an emergency or serious situation or the making of that help conditional upon the payment of a deposit which help he/she/it is expected to willingly oblige without delay." stated by PHAPi in their petition.

PHAPi also argued that the law's presumption of liability clause "is repugnant to the constitutional presumption of innocence,” and “essentially reverses the presumption of innocence.” Section 5 (presumption of liability) of the law holds accountable the hospital, clinic, and attending medical practitioner or staff liable in the event of death, permanent disability, serious impairment, or in the case of a pregnant woman, permanent injury or loss of her unborn child, stemming from denial of admission to a health facility.

Petitioners also slammed Section 7 of the law, which directs PhilHealth to reimburse the cost of basic emergency care given to “poor and indigent patients,” and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to provide medical assistance to the same, for being violative of the equal protection clause; and Section 8, which grants tax deductions to hospitals and medical clinics that incur other expenses surrounding emergency care to “poor and indigent patients” which are not reimbursed by PhilHealth.

On August 3, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10392 into law. (with Paolo Cruz-OJT/ PNA)