DOLE doing all it can to finish OFW hospital before Duterte's term ends

Published May 12, 2021, 6:32 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is racing to finish the OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center–the first ever hospital in the country that’s dedicated to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)–before President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office next year.

(Screengrab from DOLE Facebook live)

“Ang schedule talaga is first or second quarter of next year (Based on the supposed schedule, it will be finished either first or second quarter of next year). But all the equipment will have to be in place by the last quarter of this year,” DOLE Undersecretary Renato Ebarle said during a virtual press briefing Wednesday, May 12.

“Ang paki-usap kasi, ang instruction ng ating Pangulo, lahat ng mga proyektong mauumpisahan during his time, kailangan talaga matapos before he leaves office (The President’s request and instruction is to have all the projects started during his time to be finished before he leaves office),” he said.

President Duterte will leave Malacañang on June 30, 2022 following the end of his six-year term as chief executive. The election for his successor will have taken place the previous month.

(Screengrab from DOLE Facebook live)

Ebarle, a co-chair of the Committee on the Construction of the OFW hosptial, said that the four-story, level 2 medical facility was 15 percent complete as of May 6.

He said construction works are now practically 24/7 at the P550-million, 100-bed capacity hospital. It is being built on a commercial land in San Fernando, Pampanga that’s owned by the provincial government.

He said DOLE had asked the contractor to speed up works to allow for a “soft opening” of the hospital in October 2021, but it didn’t seem possible given the constraints, “Ang construction, hopefully this will be finished by December of 2021,” the undersecretary said. The procurement or hospital equipment and hiring of the nearly 300 personnel will also be carried out that month.

Despite the completion target, Ebarle said it would take another six months before the OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center would start taking in patients.

(Screengrab from DOLE Facebook live)

“Ang target natin ang first patient admission natin ay magiging June of 2022…marami pang aasikasuhin na final touches (Our target for the first patient admission is June 2022…a lot of finishing touches still need to be done),” the DOLE official said.

Ebarle said the construction of the hospital was delayed by the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. “Ganunpaman, masabi natin na mabilis pa rin ang takbo ng construction (Despite this, we can say that the construction is quite fast).” It was only last May 9 when DOLE said that it was moving forward with the hospital’s construction.