Hontiveros renews call for stiffer penalties vs. hospital detention

By Wilnard Bacelonia

April 4, 2024, 6:39 pm

<p>Senator Risa Hontiveros <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Senator Risa Hontiveros (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday called anew for the immediate passage of a bill increasing punishment for hospital detention, following reports of patients being barred from leaving a Valenzuela City hospital over unpaid medical expenses.

In a statement, Hontiveros denounced the practice as an abusive "palit-ulo” (ransom) scheme, and urged the Department of Health to take immediate action.

"If true, these hospitals are brazenly committing crimes in broad daylight. Klaro sa batas na bawal ang hospital detention at pwedeng makulong at pagmultahin ang sinumang lumabag dito (It is clearly stated in the law that hospital detention is prohibited, which can send violators to jail or fined). The Department of Health must take immediate action on this and make sure incidents like these do not happen again,” she said.

Hontiveros noted that the current anti-hospital detention law was passed way back in 2007.

“Talagang napapanahon nang i-update ito at lagyan ng mas matalas na pangil para matuldukan na ang ‘di makataong pag-detain sa mga pasyente pati na rin sa mga kapamilya nila (It is high time to update this and put sharper fangs on it to put an end to this inhumane detention of patients and their families),” she said.

In 2022, Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 140 to increase the jail time for officers or employees of health facilities who block the release of patients to six months and one day, to up to two years and four months, while the fine will be increased from PHP100,000 to PHP300,000.

Senate Bill No. 140 shall allow guarantee letters from institutions like the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, and PhilHealth, as well as the establishment of a PHP100 million Anti-Hospital Detention Assistance Fund to assist poor patients with unpaid bills. (PNA)