BROOKE’S POINT, Palawan — A child from Bataraza died Friday (April 24) in a hospital in Brooke’s Point, with its mother accusing authorities at a quarantine checkpoint of causing the death by not allowing her to proceed through right away.

The child’s mother, in an interview with Palawan News, accused Bataraza quarantine authorities of being “inconsiderate”, by not allowing her to pass through the checkpoint without a referral from her town’s rural health unit (RHU).

Odessa Ahmal Saylila, the child’s mother, on Saturday said she was held at a checkpoint in Barangay Inugbong, Bataraza with her child whom she was trying to rush to the Berachah Hospital in Brooke’s Point.

Because of the prevailing ban on inter-municipal travel, checkpoint authorities had reportedly required Saylila to first secure a referral from the Bataraza RHU before she could pass through the checkpoint.

Saylila said she pleaded but was not allowed to pass, forcing her to go back to her town and secure the required document.

“Pinabalik kami ng mga bantay sa [checkpoint] para kumuha ng referral sa Bataraza RHU. May BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection) na lumapit sa amin at nagsabi, ‘May referral ba kayo ma’am? Balik muna kayo sa RHU para kumuha ng referral. Parang binabalewala ninyo ang RHU, eh. Parang wala silang silbi’, tapos nagtawanan sila,” she recounted her ordeal.

Saylila said she made it to Brooke’s Point at past 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day but the hospital doctors failed to revive her child.

“Masakit sa akin bilang isang ina na biglaang mawalan ng anak lalo pa na puno’t dulo ng sitwasyon ay ang checkpoint sa pagkamatay niya,” Saylila said crying.

Saylila, a teacher in Sumbiling National High School (SNHS), said her son first had a fever on Wednesday (April 22) which she tried to relieve by administering paracetamol at home due to inter-municipal travel restrictions imposed during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

After two days of continued high fever reaching up to 42 degrees Celsius, she decided to bring the baby to Berachah Hospital in Brooke’s Point, a neighboring town some 30 minutes away.

“Pangalawang araw na ng lagnat ng anak ko nag-desisyon na kaming dalhin agad sa Berachah Hospital kung saan kami regular na nagpapa-check up ng aking mga anak,” she said.

Bataraza authorities present side

Sought by Palawan News to explain its side, the spokesperson of the municipal inter-agency task force (MIATF) Bataraza, insisted that the local officials at the checkpoint, which is usually manned by PNP Bataraza, BFP Bataraza, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and rural healthcare workers, followed the protocol pointing out that the conversation between the family and the law enforcers ensued for only less than 10 minutes.

“Maayos naman ang naging pag-uusap sa checkpoint, less than 10 minutes lang kasi maayos naman daw silang kausap at sumunod naman agad na bumalik sa Bataraza RHU,” Dr. Maria Rebethia Acala said.

Acala also denied the mother’s claim that she was treated harshly at the checkpoint, claiming the conversation that ensued was amicable.

Acala explained that when Saylila arrived at the Bataraza RHU with the child, she was treated like a regular patient because she allegedly did not inform the medical personnel that all she needed was a medical pass.

“Hindi sila agad nagsabi na medical pass lang pala ang kailangan nila kaya ang procedure na ginawa ay regular consultation,” Acala said.

The patient’s samples were drawn for the blood-smearing for malaria parasite (BSMP), complete blood count (CBC) analysis, and NS1 antigen test for dengue.

However, Saylila came late for the baby’s physical examination as the family went out for lunch.

“Halos 2 p.m. na sila nakabalik para sa examination ng doktor. Nakitaan na [ang baby] ng signs of convulsion na hindi rin nasabi ng parents [during the medical interview upon their arrival],” Acala said.

The rural health workers immediately sent the Saylila family to the Berachah Hospital aboard the RHU ambulance.

“Ambulance na ng RHU ang nagdala sa bata and the rural health workers all acted as immediate as we can,” Acala added.

She said they arrived at the emergency room in Berachah Hospital with the baby already in critical condition past 3 p.m.

“3:22 p.m. na kami nakarating ng Brooke’s Point ayon din sa record ng ER ng hospital. Sinabihan kami ng doktor na sana ay maaga pang nadala ang anak ko dahil nag-positive ito sa malaria falciparum. Umabot sa 42 degrees Celsius ang lagnat ng anak ko at hindi niya na ito nakayanan,” the mother added.

However, Acala claimed that the patient died because of other infections according to the attending physician.

“Negative ang bata sa malaria. Ibang sakit o infection ang kinamatay niya,” Acala said.

Acala expressed their condolences to the family and clarified that the incident has nothing to do with the delay at the checkpoint as claimed by Saylila.

“Malungkot at nakikiramay kasi sa nangyari sa bata pero wala namang may gusto ng nangyari. Hindi namatay sa checkpoint sa Bataraza ang baby. Bagamat masakit ang nagyari, hindi rin naman tama na magka-sisihan,” Acala said.

The child was supposed to celebrate his 2nd birthday on May 2.

Saylila said that the family has yet to decide if they would press charges.