Martial law in Mindanao: DOH hospitals 'fully operational'
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, May 25, said all its DOH-retained hospitals in Mindanao will remain fully operational following President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law.
"We are confident that our hospital personnel possess the necessary competence to carry out immediate measures, facilitate recovery efforts, and reduce the impact of any emergency event that may arise," Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a statement.
The DOH said it stands by the provisions of the 4th treaty of the Geneva Convention, which outlines standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict areas:
Article 16. The wounded and sick, as well as the infirm, and expectant mothers, shall be the object of particular protection and respect.
Article 18. Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
The department also urged "concerned sectors" to comply with the provisions of the Convention that require all armed combatants to "respect the nature of healthcare workers as non-combatants."
Upholding the rights and protection of hospitals, healthcare workers, and patients, according to the DOH, is key to minimizing harm against civilians.
Ubial assured the public that the DOH will not discriminate against any sector in the performance of its duty, "whether the patients be on the government side or otherwise, especially when it comes to health-related emergencies."
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday, May 23, following clashes between the military and the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. (READ: TIMELINE: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao)
Based on the President's proclamation, martial law in Mindanao should not exceed 60 days. Any extension has to be approved by Congress.
Up to 78 civilians were held captive by Maute members inside the government-run Amai Pakpak Medical Center on Tuesday. The military announced on Wednesday, May 24, that all civilians had been rescued and the hospital was already "cleared of Maute presence."