Arroyo files bill protecting VMMC, her home for 4 years in detention
Former President now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill seeking to strengthen and protect the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), her home for four years when she was detained for plunder.
Now a deputy speaker, Arroyo filed House Bill 1240 seeking to give the VMMC its juridical personality, modernize it and protect it from any sale or disposition.
In the bill, Arroyo seeks to give VMMC its own juridical personality and give it greater flexibility and autonomy in its operations.
“Recognizing the invaluable sacrifices and services of our veterans and military retirees, it is only imperative that a medical facility dedicated to serve their medical needs as well as their dependents must provided stability, viability and ample resources to ensure that they receive quality medical and health services,” Arroyo said.
Under the control and supervision of the Department of National Defense (DND), the VMMC receives a measly one percent of the DND’s annual budget.
The VMMC does not have its own charter unlike the other government hospitals such as the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center, Philippine General Hospital and Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The VMMC also has no other source of income to support the free care and treatment of veterans, retirees and their dependents.
Under the bill, the VMMC will have its corporate entity governed by a Board of Trustees chaired by the DND Secretary and vice-chaired by the hospital’s medical director. Other members of the board are the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Defense and Security; Chairperson of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare; Secretary of Health; Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office; Chairman of the Philippine Veterans Bank; President of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines; and three (3) appointive members who are distinguished veterans in their professions.
The board will have the power to set rules and regulations to govern the administration and operation of the hospital as well as enter into agreements for the purpose of promoting its purposes and objectives.
The bill also sought to protect the VMMC from any sale or disposition of its assets.
Under Section 16 of the bill, the VMMC “shall not be sold, transferred, ceded, conveyed, assigned and encumbered.”
“The preservation of the value of the assets of the hospital shall be of primordial consideration,” Arroyo said in her bill.
Arroyo’s bill thus sought to protect the hospital from talks of sale, as the 55-hectare property was being eyed as part of the development plan by the Ayala group as location of the North Integrated Transport System terminal, as well as being eyed for possible lease or sale of its golf course by the DND.
Arroyo said all existing assets of the VMMC must be under the control and supervision of the hospital with the issuance of all the corresponding certificates of landholding in its favor.
While the board may approve the implementation of contracts, mechanisms and financial instruments to give the hospital the flexibility to generate revenues and other resources from land grants and other properties, these arrangements should sustain and protect the hospital in accordance with law and be exclusive of the medical core zone of the hospital.
“(Any) mechanism and arrangements shall not conflict with the medical or health services and academic mission of the hospital; and any plan to generate revenues and other sources from land grants and other real properties entrusted to the hospital shall be consistent with the hospital mission and orientation as a vehicle to extend health services to veterans and their dependents,” Arroyo said in her bill.
Arroyo walked free last July after the Supreme Court dismissed for insufficient evidence her plunder case involving the raid of P366-million state lottery funds at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from 2008 to 2010.
Two months later, she was cleared by the Sandiganbayan of charges of graft and breach of ethical conduct when the court granted her demurrer to evidence in the allegedly overpriced National Broadband Network deal with Chinese firm ZTE.
After her release from detention, Arroyo returned to Congress to serve her third and last term and was chosen as deputy speaker. RAM
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