CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The signing of the usufruct agreement between the provincial government here and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the use of the very first overseas Filipino workers (OFW) hospital in the Philippines was held here on Friday.
The signing was preceded by the kick-off ceremony for the construction of the P1-billion OFW hospital on a 2-hectare lot at the Provincial Engineering Compound along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Sindalan.
The usufruct deed was signed by Vice Gov. Lilia “Nanay” Pineda for the provincial government and DOLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said the government owned and controlled corporation will infuse an additional P300 million for the hospital’s facilities.
She also said the lot for the hospital facility, valued at P500 million, was donated by the provincial government, while Bloomberry Resorts Corp. will donate P500 million for the building.
It was highly bruited that the 100-bed OFW hospital is slated to be finished before the end of the Duterte administration in May next year and will be the country’s first dedicated hospital and diagnostic center for OFWs.
In his speech, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the OFW hospital reflects the Duterte administration’s determination to give Filipinos free medical services and medicine.
Also present in the ceremony were Bloomberry’s Atty. Ellan Mark Pailan, Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Lilibeth David, and Pampanga Board Members Cherry Manalo, Fritzie David-Dizon and Pol Balingit and other provincial officials.
It can be recalled that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led the hospital’s groundbreaking on Labor Day last year with then-Gov. Lilia G. Pineda.
In a news statement, Secretary Bello said that due to the community quarantine caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the expected opening of the OFW hospital was pushed back to December 2021.
Bello said the work stoppages caused by the pandemic delayed the completion of the project, which was originally slated on April next year.
The P1.3-billion medical facility in San Fernando, Pampanga will have available 200 beds and expected to have state-of-the-art medical equipment to provide free health care to OFWs.
“It will render free services when OFWs are securing medical certificates covering laboratory exams and other requirements for their overseas deployment,” Bello said.
In an online press briefing, DOLE-Region 3 Director Zenaida Campita disclosed they have already signed the usufruct agreement with the provincial government of Pampanga to allow DOLE to make use of its 1.5 hectare land, where the OFW hospital will be built.
She noted they partnered with the DOH to operate the facility to ensure it operations will be sustainable and well-funded.
“If DOH is the one running it [OFW hospital], there is an assurance that it will get annual appropriations,” Campita said.