Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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The construction of the first-ever overseas Filipino workers (OFW) hospital finally started on Friday after having been delayed due to quarantine measures brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

During the kick-off ceremony, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the provincial government of Pampanga signed the deed of usufruct for the two-hectare lot at the Provincial Engineering Compound along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Sindalan here where the 100-bed capacity hospital started to be constructed.

The usufruct deed was signed by DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Vice Governor Lilia Pineda for the provincial government of Pampanga.

The lot for the hospital facility valued at PHP500 million was donated by the provincial government of Pampanga while Bloomberry Resorts Corp. will donate PHP500 million for the building.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), on the other hand, will infuse an additional PHP300 million for the procurement of some hospital equipment.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who served as one of the special guests, said the OFW hospital is one of the national government’s commitment to provide Filipinos free medical services.

“Ang pagpapatayo po ng OFW Hospital ay isang katuparan sa polisiya ng gobyerno na dapat ang lahat ng Pilipino ay mabigyan ng libreng medical service at libreng gamot (The construction of the OFW Hospital is a fulfillment of the government’s policy that all Filipinos should be provided with free medical services and free medicines.

Roque said the construction of the PHP1.3-billion hospital is President Rodrigo Duterte’s recognition of the sacrifices of the OFWs.

“Ito po ay maliit na pagkilala sa mga sakripisyo ng mga OFWs. Pero hindi po titigil ang administrasyong Duterte at patuloy ang kanyang paggawa ng proyekto para kilalanin na ang OFWs ay tanging bagong bayani (This is a little recognition of the sacrifices of OFWs. But, the Duterte administration will not stop and will continue to work on projects to recognize that OFWs are the only new heroes),” he added.

Bello said the construction of the hospital is still on track amid the delays due to quarantine measures.

“The hospital will render free services when OFWs are securing medical certificates covering laboratory requirements for their overseas deployment,” he said.

For her part, Pineda thanked the government and other stakeholders for the construction of the OFW hospital.

“Sa wakas po, siguradong sigurado na dahil may hukay na at may mga equipment na at narito na po ang contractor (Finally, it is now sure because there is already a pit and there are equipment in place and the contractor is here),” Pineda said.

The OFW hospital is expected to be finished by December 2021.

Also present in the event were Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Lilibeth David, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chief executive officer Andrea Domingo, and other provincial officials. (PNA)

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