By Zorayda Tecson
SAN FERNANDO City, Pampanga – The construction of the first-ever overseas Filipino workers (OFW) hospital has finally started here after having been delayed due to quarantine measures triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During its Friday the kick-off rites, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Pampanga provincial government signed the deed of usufruct for the two-hectare lot at the Provincial Engineering Compound along the MacArthur Highway in Barangay Sindalan here where construction of the 100-bed capacity hospital has commenced.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda, representing the provincial government signed the usufruct deed. The hospital lot, valued at P500 million, was donated by the Pampanga provincial government, while Bloomberry Resorts Corp. will donate P500 million for the building.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), on the other hand, will infuse an additional P300 million for the procurement of hospital equipment.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who was one of the special guests, said the OFW hospital is one of the national government’s commitment to provide Filipinos free medical services.
Roque said the construction of the P1.3-billion hospital also reflects President Duterte’s recognition of the sacrifices of the OFWs. “This is a little recognition of the sacrifices of OFWs, but the Duterte administration will not stop and will continue to pursue projects to recognize that OFWs are the only new heroes,” he added.
Bello said hospital construction remains on track despite the delays due to quarantine measures. “The hospital will render free services when OFWs secure medical laboratory certificates as requirements for their overseas deployment,” he added.
Pineda, for her part, thanked the national government and other stakeholders for the construction of the OFW hospital. “Finally, it is now here,” she said on the OFW hospital that is expected to be finished in December 2021.
Likewise present during the rites were Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Lilibeth David, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, PAGCOR chief executive officer Andrea Domingo, and other provincial officials.