Duterte signs order to speed up OFW hospital construction

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2021 09:01 PM

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrive Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrive at the lobby of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on July 1, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday signed an executive order to fast-track the construction of a hospital dedicated to overseas Filipino workers. 

The EO would pave the way for the bidding of medical equipment for the first OFW hospital, located in San Fernando City, Pampanga, which is about halfway finished. Legal issues previously delayed the bidding, the labor department was recently quoted as having said in a media report. 

Duterte signed Executive Order 154 "directing the establishment of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital," said Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles.

He said the order also creates an inter-agency committee focusing on the establishment of the hospital, to be chaired by the secretaries of labor and health. 

"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," Nograles said in a statement. 

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The OFW Hospital aims to offer free hospitalization, medical certificates, laboratory exams, and other necessities for migrant workers. 

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who chairs the chamber's committee on health and demography, said the facility, which will have a 100-bed capacity, will also cater to dependents of OFWs.

"In addition to providing medical care, it will also conduct research on the prevention, care and treatment of occupational diseases common among OFWs as well as train health workers on the implementation of OFW-specific occupational health services," according to a statement from Go's office.

"Through OWWA, a referral system will be created to ensure the efficient delivery of medical and healthcare services, including the conduct of pre-employment medical examinations of departing OFWs," it added.

In 2019, there were about 2.2 million Filipino migrant workers, whose remittances back home serve as lifeblood to the Philippine economy, according to government data. 

The government initially aimed to finish the hospital's construction by May this year. It started last January, and is now expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to Go's statement.

The cost of the initial construction phase, amounting to P521.8 million, was funded by the Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc., the statement added.

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