2 chiefs collide at Albay PHO
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- Like the brewing eruptive behavior of Mt. Mayon in the background which as of late spewed ash to warn of worse things to come, the two top provincial health officials in the province of Albay are poised to a fiery head-on collision unless the question as to who will head which office is finally resolved. Dr. Antonio Ludevice, concurrent officer in charge and chief of the Josefina Belmonte Duran Memorial District Hospital (JBDMDH) has ordered employees to pack up all belongings of the provincial health office in Legazpi City because they are due to be transferred today (July 5) at the new provincial health office based in Ligao City. But Ludevice’s move was strongly contested by Dr. Nathaniel Rempillo, the chief of the provincial health office. Rempillo told the employees to stay put until an order in black and white that says so has been given by Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara. Rempillo insisted that he is still the provincial health officer under the law and he wants an inventory of all computers, tables and other belongings of the provincial health office before any transfer can be effected. “Don’t move, I’m still the provincial health officer. Any movement will be tantamount to insubordination. If there’s a need to call cops, I will do so. I want that everything is clear and in order before transfer is made,” Rempillo told the employees of the provincial health office here. Rempillo has been reassigned by Gov. Bichara from chief of provincial health to head of the newly created Provincial Health Care Development Committee (PHCDC) for a year while designating Ludevice as his replacement at the Albay provincial office. After the expiration of his one-year reassignment at PHCDC, Rempillo returned to his original post as provincial health officer even though Ludevice has not left his concurrent post. Rempillo claims that his return to his original post is in consonance with civil service rules. Rempillo’s post is under Salary Grade 26 while Ludevice is at Salary Grade 25. Ludevice, for his part, warned those who will not follow his order to be subjected to insubordination as he claimed to have been given the assignment by Gov. Bichara as chief of provincial health office. The move to transfer the provincial health office from the Albay capitol building in Legazpi City to Ligao City has been criticized by those residing in the first and second congressional districts of the province, specifically the island town of Rapu-Rapu including the islands of Cagraray in Bacacay town and San Miguel in Tabaco City who are further away from Ligao City. Ludevice said that the transfer of provincial health office at Josefina Duran Memorial Hospital in Ligao City will be more beneficial to the resident of the city and its surrounding municipalities due to the presence of a hospital that would also be the site of the provincial health office. The bigger Bicol Teaching and Training Hospital, on the other hand, is housed in Legazpi City, that is more accessible to those in the southern districts of the province, including the cities of Tabaco and Legazpi and the island and coastal municipalities in the first and second congressional districts of Albay. But Rempillo said that the move will not only displace the PHO’s 60 employees but may also expose them to disease and other contamination because their office will be housed inside a hospital. Rempillo said that the services to the people of Albay, specifically the residents living in the far-flung areas of the province including the island town of Rapu-Rapu and the three islands of Batan in second district and Cagraray and San Miguel in the first district will be sacrificed, especially the poor who have no means to travel to Ligao City for their medical and health care. Rempillo blames the current impasse at PHO as politically motivated because he was appointed by former governor now Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda while Ludevice is obviously incumbent Gov. Bichara’s anointed one. Rempillo vowed to fight for his right as the duly appointed provincial health office chief in accordance with civil service rules.