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Hontiveros presses BuCor officials on 'hospital staycation scam'

"Hospitals are not hotels for convicted druglords." Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros took to task officials from the Bureau of Corrections and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for an alleged 'hospital staycation scam' in which convicted druglords would be given hospital passes so they can stay at certain private hospitals for extended periods despite not being ill, turning the hospital into a virtual vacation house. During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the 'ninja cops' issue on Thursday, Hontiveros, quoting a Senate executive session report made public, said that, for a sum of money, Bilibid hospital doctor Ursicio Cenas would give inmates hospital passes that granted extended stay. Reports even surfaced that inmates had personal cooks and watchmen, even nurses, whom some kept as paramours. "Itong hospital staycation scam na ito ay isang malaking kahihiyan, kalokohan at pambabastos sa ating correctional system. The justice system has enough problems, and this drags our system down even further," Hontiveros said. Hontiveros called for the cancellation of Cenas medical license due to unprofessional, unethical conduct of allowing extended hospital stay for drug lords. The senator also shared that the Philippine correctional system has the highest congestion rate in the world at 605%, far exceeding second place Haiti which has a rate of 320%. A report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also revealed that in the Quezon City Male Jail Dorm alone, as many as three to five inmates die every month from treatable conditions due to overcrowding and severe lack of medical care. "A hospital is not a vacation house for convicted drug lords and other unrepentant criminals. While these drug lords enjoy perks and preferential treatment, other inmates die from a lack of medical care which could otherwise be given to them. Instead of making our correctional facilities places for reforming convicts, this system has been turned on its head to satisfy shameless greed," Hontiveros said.