By Ali G. Macabalang
Cotabato City – A 20-year old banana farm worker, who was caught in the crossfire and badly wounded during a skirmish between government forces and lawless elements in Maguindanao, is appealing for financial assistance since his hospital bill in Davao city has already exceeded P800,000.
Rusmi Hussien Sangkad Panangulon has already slipped out of comatose and could now move his arms and legs.
“Our problem now is his mounting bills at San Pedro Hospital in Davao City,” rued Merinisa Ibrahim, the patient’s mother, in the vernacular in the presence of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu.
In between sobs, the mother sought out Mangudadatu to appeal for help.
“We have mortgaged almost all our belongings…My daughters working as domestic helpers abroad sent us all their wages earned in several months, but all was insufficient for our huge bills,” Ibrahim lamented.
Ibrahim brought a photo of her son lying in a ward bed as well as documents from San Pedro Hospital indicating their latest bills amounting to P827,534.00 less P390,722 already paid by the family.
She said the hospital management has recommended the transfer of the patient to a government facility, notably the Mindanao Medical Center in Davao City for state-sponsorship of his continued confinement.
But such transfer would happen only upon payment of the bills incurred at San Pedro hospital, a private facility, said Ibrahim.
Verifications showed that Panangulon, who stopped schooling to work as banana farm laborer in favor of his younger brother, a high school student, was wounded in the face and head by stray bullets at the height of firefight between Army troops and guerrillas of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at barangay Sambolawan in Salibo, Maguindanao on December 14, 2016.
Panagulon was immediately brought to the Regional Medical Center here, but resident physicians endorsed him to the better – equipped hospital in Davao City.