By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order to hasten the completion of a hospital that will cater primarily to the health care needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and qualified dependents, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order No. 154 today, December 7, 2021, directing the establishment of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital,” Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a press statement.
“We consider the establishment of this specialty hospital devoted to OFWs as a long overdue recognition of the valuable contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the economy and to the nation,” he added.
EO No. 154, signed by Duterte on Tuesday, describes OFWs as “unsung modern-day heroes of the Philippines as they brave living and working in a foreign land to support their families back home and their regular remittances have contributed to the stability and growth of the Philippine economy.”
“The establishment of a specialty government hospital primarily devoted to OFWs will recognize the valuable contribution of Filipino migrant workers, and alleviate their health problems and concerns,” EO No. 154 read.
EO No. 154 creates the Inter-Agency Committee on the OFW Hospital (ICOH) chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment and co-chaired by the Secretary of Health.
ICOH is in charge of determining and undertaking, in coordination with the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and –Controlled Corporations, the appropriate steps for the formal establishment and/or incorporation of the OFW Hospital in accordance with RA No. 10149 or the “GOCC Governance Act of 2011” and assuming, performing, and carrying out functions and responsibilities of its Board of Trustees.
Funding for the establishment and initial operation of the OFW Hospital shall be charged against available appropriations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Afterwards, the ICOH or the Board of Trustees shall coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management to ensure that the subsequent funding requirements, as may be necessary, for the implementation of this Order, shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act, subject to the usual budget process.
The ICOH or the Board of Trustees shall submit to the President, through the Executive Secretary, an annual report on the implementation of this Order.
Earlier, Labor Undersecretary Renato Ebarle said the EO is expected to address the delay in the construction of the OFW Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga.
He said they were not able to immediately start the bidding process for the medical equipment using the PHP200 million donation from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for the said purpose due to legal issues.
Currently, he said the construction of the six-story hospital is only 49 percent complete due to the deferred procurement.
The OFW Hospital was initially set to be inaugurated by the last quarter of the year, but Ebarle said they are now targeting to complete it before the 2022 elections. (PNA)