MANILA - A neurosurgeon at the helm of the country’s largest government hospital said he had only 2 hours to drive to Malacañang one afternoon last March to receive the first of P100-million monthly subsidies from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Since then, the Philippine General Hospital has been able to provide free equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pesos like pacemakers to the poor, who were only assured of free consultation, said PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi.
The subsidy from the President was a boost to Legaspi’s efforts to revitalize the PGH. He has sought peace with the hospital’s labor union as he used P3-billion funding secured by his predecessor to buy new equipment.
Legaspi said when he first took over as PGH president, he applied his “problem-solving” training as a surgeon
“The age old-government culture… The buildings weren’t too maintained. Patients were overwhelming,” Legaspi said in an exclusive interview with ANC’s The Boss.
The unexpected invitation from Malacañang came through a text message from an unknown number, who turned out to be the President’s long-time executive assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go. Legaspi said he immediately called Go.
Legaspi said he told a Palace protocol officer that he did not have enough time to change into formal clothes from his shirt and jeans.
“Okay lang po. Naka-maong din si Presidente. (It’s okay. The President is in jeans too),” Legaspi recalled the protocol officer as telling him.
A photo from Duterte's office showed that he was just as casually dressed as the PGH chief. The President wore white-soled black sneakers and his barong sleeves were rolled up.
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