By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate has commended the government for showing “charity and compassion” to overseas Filipino workers by thinking of putting up a hospital for them.
“That is a very commendable and caring gesture, a showcase of charity and compassion on the part of the government for [the] well-being and welfare of OFWs,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said in an interview.
“We are grateful and appreciative for kind gestures of government officials,” he added.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People said the gesture will further inspire and encourage OFWs to be more “honest, hardworking and honourable.”
Earlier, the Labor department announced the groundbreaking on May 1 of a hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, which will provide free services to OFWs.
An initiative of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the hospital aims to provide various free services for migrant workers, as well as their families and dependents, in grateful recognition of their contribution to the growth of the economy.
“This is the concept of our Secretary Bello…This will provide our OFWs and their dependents free hospital and other medical services,” Labor Undersecretary Ana Dione said.
“The hospital will be exclusively for OFWs and their dependents. The plan is to provide them with free services when securing their medical certificates, covering laboratory exams and other basic requirements for their overseas deployment. We hope that this will also be honored by the host countries so we expect a quite extensive negotiation on this,” she added.
The hospital will be financed by donations and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), with support from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Construction is expected to be completed in one and a half to two years, following the requisite documentation.
The property where the hospital will rise is a donation from the provincial government of Pampanga.