Leaders seek reopening of mothballed Lanao hospital

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KIDAPAWAN CITY: A simmering squabble between local leaders has mothballed for six years a hospital in Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte—but other officials are pushing for the reopening of the idled facility to provide health services to about 27,858 local residents.

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After the hospital’s closure, patients have to travel 32 kilometers over rough roads for medical treatment in Iligan City, Mayor Hadja Eleanor Dimaporo-Lantud told reporters on Wednesday by phone.

The necessity of “free access to health and medical services” has been deprived from the residents since after the provincial council ordered the district hospital’s closure in April 2006 through a resolution, she said.

The resolution cited the facility’s alleged failure to generate revenue as a reason for the closure of the hospital—that operated with one physician, four nurses, four midwives and utility people, Mayor Lantud said.

She said the real reason for the facility’s closure was the shift to the Liberal Party of most elected officials in Pantao Ragat in the past five elections that allegedly caught the ire of the ruling Dimaporo clan of Lakas-Kampi party.

The mayor also belongs to the Dimaporo clan. But her family’s affiliation with the Liberal Party made her an estranged relative, she said.

The mayor recalled that in 2011, she approached Gov. Khalid Dimaporo and Rep. Aliah Dima-poro to help reopen the district hospital for the sake of the town’s impoverished people.

But the two officials said that their parents—now incumbent House Reps. Imelda and Abdullah Dimaporo—were opposed to reopening the facility, she said.

A group of journalists tried to get the reaction of Dimaporo on Thursday but his mobile phone kept ringing without a reply.

Lantud sought the intercession of higher authorities like Malacañang as well as the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a letter dated September 5, Lantud appealed to DOH Secretary Enrique Ona and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to “reopen our hospital” for humanitarian sake and in pursuit of the Aquino administration’s program on “universal medical and health care.

“We are clinging to hope that our constituents could gain justice under President Aquino’s tuwid na daan policy . . . not only because we belong to the Liberal Party but due to the dictate of straightforward governance,” Mayor Lantud said in vernacular.

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