Department of Health

DOH vows to improve conditions at National Center for Mental Health

Ryan Macasero

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DOH vows to improve conditions at National Center for Mental Health
Senator Raffy Tulfo files a resolution seeking to investigate the poor conditions in the country's largest mental health facility and alleged corruption by its management

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health vowed to improve conditions in the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) complex in Mandaluyong after Senator Raffy Tulfo said there were areas in the facility which smelled worse than a pig sty.

“We are open to the investigation, and we are trying to improve the situation and, of course, the convenience of our patients there,” said DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire during a press conference on Tuesday, April 4.

A press statement from Tulfo on Monday, April 4, said he filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 562 directing the Committee on Health to conduct an inquiry on the condition of the facilities in the NCMH.

Tulfo filed the resolution following his surprise ocular inspection at the NCMH after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen, who pointed out the current squalid conditions of the facilities.

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But even as Tulfo was disgusted by the squalor of the government facility for mental health patients, Vergeire said the NCMH’s current state was still better than what it previously was.

Kapag tinignan ang National Center for Mental Health, comparing it to before, malaki na po ang naging improvement ng NCMH, dahil tayo naman unti unti through the years nakapag-invest na tayo sa ospital na ito,” Vergeire said. 

(If you take a look at the National Center for Mental Health, comparing it to before, there has been significant improvement in NCMH, because, little by little through the years, we have been able to invest in this hospital.)

Tulfo specifically visited pavilion 4, or the ward housing patients with pending criminal cases. He said that the pavilion was cramped with patients and had no ventilation.

The senator was also looking into possible corruption in the management of the country’s largest mental health institution.

Nakakalungkot na makita ang kalunos-lunos na kalagayan ng ilang mga pasyente sa NCMH sa Mandaluyong. Kung mahina ang iyong sikmura, tiyak na masusuka ka sa sobrang baho ng kanilang ward. Daig pa ang amoy ng kulungan ng baboy,” Tulfo said.

(The state of the NCMH in Mandaluyong is depressing and the welfare of the patients is tragic. If you have a weak stomach, you would surely vomit at the foul odor of the ward. It smells worse than a pig sty.)

Sa sahig sila natutulog at walang banig, kumot o unan. Nagsisiksikan na parang mga sardinas at sobrang init na mistulang pugon dahil walang ventilation at kulang sa electric fan,” he added. (They sleep on the floors without mats, or blankets and pillows. They are cramped together like sardines and it’s hot without ventilation or enough electric fans.)

Vergerie said the pavilion was built to accommodate 300 patients, but currently housed 600.

The DOH officer-in-charge said that the main reason for the overflow was that patients who were already cleared for transfer often have to wait for months before they are picked up by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). 

Nakikipagugnayan na kami sa Department of Justice (we are communicating with the DOJ) so we can decongest this pavillion,” she said.

But even before that, the DOH said they have already started construction of another pavilion to build more room for patients from this pavilion. Phase 1 was expected to open in April. 

With Tulfo’s call to investigate the facility for possible corruption, Vergeire said the DOH will fully cooperate.

“We would be open to that, we have our records, our transmittances, lahat naman kumpleto diyan, at sasagutin natin (we are complete and will answer everything),” she said. –

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at