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Bidding for Fabella hospital canceled

/ 05:20 AM February 18, 2014

Newly born babies are breastfed by their mothers in a ward at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila in this photo taken on Aug. 5, 2013, during the world celebration of Breastfeeding Week. The bidding for the project to design and build the Fabella hospital has been canceled for lack of a go-signal from the National Economic and Development Authority, health officials announced on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines—The bidding for the project to design and build a new government-run Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital has been canceled for lack of a go-signal from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), health officials announced on Monday.

Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said Health Secretary Enrique Ona had ordered the bidding canceled after the Department of Health (DOH) was told that the approval of the Neda Investment Coordination Committee was needed for projects that cost upwards of P1 billion.

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Herbosa said the budget allotted for the transfer and modernization of the state-run tertiary maternity hospital to its new site in Sta. Cruz, Manila, was pegged at P1.5 billion, which made it necessary for the agency to seek Neda approval.

In a memorandum circular dated Dec. 23, 2013, the Department of Budget and Management announced that the scope of the Investment Coordination Committee and the Neda Committee on Infrastructure will cover major capital projects costing P1 billion and above, instead of the P500 million project floor cost.

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The winning bidder in the Fabella project, J. D. Legaspi Construction (JDLC), had submitted a bid of P742,888,888.88 to the DOH bids committee during the June 26 bidding. It later filed a case in the Makati Regional Trial Court to compel the DOH to honor the deal.

Herbosa said the DOH was back to doing a feasibility study on the project before it could submit a new proposal to the Neda.

“We were able to get the nod of the Neda technical board. At the Cabinet committee level, there was a suggestion that we pattern the project after the government’s classroom projects. The facility will be built by the private sector then we will pay them over time in tranches,” he explained.

Once the Neda, which is headed by President Aquino, gives the green light to the project, the DOH will start a new bidding process for the Fabella hospital, the third time it is doing so.

Asked to comment on the 13-page JDLC petition, Herbosa said: “They should compel Neda, not us.”

He added: “The secretary or the head of the procuring agency has the right to cancel the bidding for any purpose he sees fit.”

The aging Fabella Hospital, sometimes described as a “baby factory” for the sheer number of infants born there, is set to be transferred from the old Bilibid compound on Lope de Vega Street to the DOH’s San Lazaro compound on Rizal Avenue, Manila.

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When the hospital is rebuilt under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement, it will no doubt provide modern delivery services to its mostly indigent patients, a prospect that would also jack up fees,  according to some groups.

“Experience tells us that PPP projects are bound to make the cost of public services higher, further disenfranchising the poor,” said Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela, the militant party-list women’s group.

Fabella has always been the go-to maternity hospital for the poor. PhilHealth members do not have to pay a centavo, except in instances that exceed the agency’s case rate allocation. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office has an office there to help indigents. Social welfare assistance is also available.

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TAGS: baby factory, bidding, Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital, hospitals, Philippines - Metro, public-private partnership (PPP)
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