15 Filipino nurses fired for ‘liking’ criticism vs hospital

(PhilStar.com) Fifteen nurses recently terminated from the Taguig-Pateros City District Hospital for “liking” a Facebook post criticizing hospital management are now accusing the city government of refusing to release their certificates of employment.

One of the nurses said their group has repeatedly asked the city government and even sought intervention of various government agencies like the Civil Service Commission and the labor department, but their request has yet to be granted.

“We are no longer contesting our termination, even if they have removed us without any due process at all. All we are asking for is for them to give us our certificate of employment so we could start looking for other jobs,” one of the nurses said in an interview.

The certificate of employment is one of the major requirements Filipino nurses who wish to work abroad must submit. It serves as proof that these nurses have undergone training in the country.

The source-nurse, who requested anonymity, explained that 15 of them have been fired for liking a Facebook status criticizing the purchase of a CT-scan machine last July 13.

Jocelyn Imbao, a consultant at the hospital’s aesthetic and gynecology department, commented on Facebook about the hospital’s priorities in terms of purchasing supplies.

“CT scan???????????? Huh? Sana for free. Kase baka wala maka afford. Besides, ilan ba gagamit na patient? In demand ba? E ang oxygen, meron ba continuous supply? Bili light meron? Simpleng droplight, me bumbilya ba?” read the post. (CT scan? Hopefully for free. Because no one might be able to afford it. Besides, how many patients will use it? Is it in demand? What about oxygen, is there continuous supply? Simple droplight, are there bulbs?)

“Naisip nyo ba ang kuryente na ma consume ng CT scan? Did you know that before you operate the CT scan, you have to start it for a long time? And once on, you can’t turn it off and on and off when not in use?” Imbao, who joined the hospital in 2004, said, worrying about the machine’s electricity consumption.

At least 11 people liked the post, based on the document obtained by The STAR.

On Aug. 13, the nurses received their termination letter. In one sentence, the nurses were informed that they have just lost their jobs effective Aug. 16.

“They did not state any grounds. So we talked to the medical director and we’re told that we were terminated because of Facebook,” the nurse said, who said she recorded the conversation.

Imbao, on the other hand, never received a termination letter but only learned about her dismissal in a bulletin board posting on Aug. 31.

She said she is not contesting the termination because she had lots of connections in other hospitals.

“What I’m fighting for is the rights of the nurses who ‘liked’ my post and lost their jobs in the process,” Imbao said.

Politics caused termination?

In a three-page explanation, the city government claimed that the nurses were disobedient and had sowed intrigues against the administration of Mayor Lani Cayetano.

“Sadly, they have done these things even while they were on duty and supposedly working on official government time,” the letter said.

The document, signed by City Legal officer-in-charge Marianito Miranda, added that the nurses were “consumed” with their “malevolent intent” to discredit Cayetano that they disregarded the administration’s accomplishments.

The nurses, however, said the city government “is only making up stories in order to justify our termination without due process.”

“If the hospital was not really satisfied with my performance why did they put very satisfactory in my evaluation letter? And why didn’t they tell us through the termination letter? Why only now?” one fired nurse said.

Meanwhile, Taguig city administrator Joel Montales, in an official statement, clarified that “Imbao and the nurses were not terminated because they liked (a) Facebook (post).”

“Instead of focusing on their work and cooperating and supporting the TPDH management’s various efforts at improving the hospital’s frontline services, these terminated personnel have manifested blatant disobedience and disregard of authority and protocols, engaged in sowing intrigues and encouraged discontent among the hospital’s staff and personnel.”