THE start of the construction of the first hospital for the country’s overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their dependents should be welcomed by all sectors of Philippine society.
Rightly so because the remittances of our still growing “army” of OFWs, acknowledged as “modern-day heroes,” continue to help prop up the struggling domestic economy.
The kick-off ceremony was attended by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, Health Undersecretary Lilibeth David, PAGCOR Chief Andrea Domingo, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and Pampanga Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda.
“Ang pagpapatayo po ng ‘OFW Hospital’ ay isang katuparan sa polisiya ng gobyerno na dapat ang lahat ng Pilipino ay mabigyan ng libreng medical services at libreng gamot,” said Roque.
Construction of the “ OFW Hospital” started 114 years after 15 sacadas (seasonal farm workers) were recruited from the Philippines by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) to work on the sugar plantations in the then United States Territory of Hawaii.
Records show that it was in 1906 when the 15 sacadas – composed of Tagalogs – left the Philippines for Hawaii. By 1909, the HSPA undertook large-scale importation of Filipino workers, mostly Ilocanos and Visayans.
In fact, the HSPA set up recruitment centers in Manila, Vigan (Ilocos Sur) and Cebu in the Visayas.
The P1.3-billion, 100-bed capacity “OFW Hospital” is being constructed at a two-hectare lot along MacArthur Highway in San Fernando City in Pampanga, which has produced two Philippine presidents – Diosdado Macapagal and Gloria M. Macapagal-Arroyo.
Valued at P500 million, the lot was donated by the provincial government of Pampanga, while Bloomberry Resorts Corporation will donate P500 million for the building. PAGCOR, on the other hand, will chip in P300 million for the purchaseof hospital equipment.
Construction of the ultra modern “OFW Hospital” is expected to be completed by the end of December 2021, a good six months before President Duterte leaves Malacanang at 12 noon on June 30, 2022.