Marcos wants PH Heart Center annex at Clark
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the establishment of a Philippine Heart Center (PHC) annex at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga to bring the services of the specialty hospital currently based in Quezon City to more Filipinos.
Under Executive Order No. 19 signed on March 8, the President said having a PHC at the “gateway to Central Luzon” would be feasible, citing the “world-class highways and an international airport” marking the location.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Marcos said cardiovascular diseases had become the leading cause of death in the country as of October 2022.
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But he noted that most Filipinos suffering from cardiovascular disorders still have to travel to Metro Manila to obtain specialized services at the PHC, one of the major medical facilities built during the presidency of his father. The Quezon City hospital has been in operation since 1975.
The President said the amount needed for the construction and operation of PHC Clark would be charged against the available appropriations of the Department of Health (DOH) or the annual corporate operating budget of the PHC main.
“Additional funding may likewise be sourced from agreements that the PHC may enter into with other government agencies for the purpose of establishing and operating the PHC Clark,” the EO read.
Marcos said the PHC and the DOH should coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management to ensure that the subsequent funding requirements were included in the government’s annual national budget.
The PHC may request any government department, including government-owned and or -controlled corporations, state universities and colleges and local government units to “render full assistance and cooperation” for its operation, he added.
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Inaugurated on February 14, 1975, during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the PHC is mandated to provide comprehensive cardiovascular care “that is accessible to all.”
In his first State of the Nation Address in July last year, President Marcos pushed for the creation of more specialty hospitals, particularly outside Metro Manila, to make it “easier for the sick to get treatment without having to travel far.”
PHC Clark is one of the major health infrastructure projects lined up by the Marcos administration.
Reducing infra backlog
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) earlier said it had approved 194 projects on physical and digital connectivity, water resources, health, power, energy and agriculture worth around P9 trillion, to be funded through official development assistance, general appropriations and public-private partnerships (PPP).
On Friday, Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto suggested that the government come up with a “fiscal scorecard” for each of the 194 projects in the pipeline.
Recto said having “multi-year, multi-administration” flagship projects is the “forward thinking needed to erase the infrastructure backlog.”
“That is the grand vision on the infrastructure side that the nation needs. This is a departure from the tendency that projects must bear ‘best before election’ completion dates, so when inaugurated, they can be milked for reelection purposes,” he said.
Recto said the administration should make the fiscal scorecard public, and that it should include funding sources and tax incentives granted per project.
“Will these be funded through loans or from internal revenues through the national budget? What’s the debt component of each project? Is it official development assistance or a commercial loan?” he asked. “If it is any of the accepted PPP modes, what would be the government guarantee and the contingent liability?”
Recto stressed that “hidden fiscal risks, this part of the debt iceberg that is underwater, should be subjected to prudential limits.”
“For joint venture projects, there should be end-user affordability consultations. If the fee or toll or fare being charged is too expensive, people won’t use it and the government will shoulder the shortage in guaranteed ridership, for example,” he said.
“There is nothing wrong in seeking financing for projects. Debt for projects is not a bad thing because our current resources cannot finance growth. To be timid in seeking financing is a formula for stagnation,” Recto said.
But succeeding administrations and future generations “should not be saddled with debts due to contracts skewed in favor of private parties,” he added.
Government debt has reached P 13.14 trillion as of end-2022.
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