Expect BOPK noise about CCMC plan

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Friday, December 13, 2013


THE construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) can be considered the biggest and most ambitious project of Michael Rama since he became mayor in 2010. It got conceived because of a need. The old CCMC building was damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu provinces last Oct. 15, 2013 or almost two months ago.

The mayor, we can say, didn’t let a serious crisis go to waste. He used the opportunity to do something we thought he would never dare to do.

(The phrasing of the last two sentences is not mine. I partly borrowed it from the 55th mayor of Chicago, the Jewish Rahm Emmanuel.)

Okay, I read somewhere that the construction of a new CCMC building was not the mayor’s original idea. Meaning, he would have followed what the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) councilors wanted, which was to merely retrofit the old and rickety structure of the hospital.

But his ally, Vice President Jejomar Binay, supposedly floated the idea of a new CCMC to him. And he bought it.

The last we heard is that Rama plans to build the new CCMC in a three-hectare lot inside the South Road Properties (SRP), at the back of the Pedro Calungsod Chapel. That lot is close to the Mambaling area, making it a bit more accessible than the new SM mall farther inside.

A 1,000 bed hospital in a three-hectare lot. Compare that with the old 300-bed CCMC in a cramped 1.2-hectare block along Natalio Bacalso Ave.

That’s a jump, no matter how you look at it. The Rama administration only has to get hold of the P1.5 billion needed to realize the project and the city will have a better public medical facility.

But I say the project is ambitious not only because it is big but also because it will test Rama’s leadership abilities. It looks like he will proceed with the construction of the facility even if the BOPK councilors would block attempts to source part of the P1.5 billion needed for the project from the city’s coffers.

And this is the part where I am worried. Very much worried.

Last month, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said that her department has earmarked P500 million for the construction of the new CCMC. The catch? The financial assistance is still awaiting the signature of President Noynoy Aquino.

I would say P500 million will go a long way in defraying the cost of the construction of the new medical facility. But many things can still happen before PNoy inks his imprimatur. One of those many things is when a powerful figure within the ruling party (Rama is not an ally) is able to find ways to scuttle the DOH plan.

The proposed location of the new facility can also be problematic. Rama does not really have control over SRP affairs. Former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who influences city council moves, has staked a solo claim to the SRP and how it should be developed. Osmeña is blocking attempts of Rama to sell SRP lots. Would he allow him to put up a hospital there?

Now, BOPK councilors are starting to act up. They have scheduled an executive session next week and have asked CCMC officials and SRP Management Office Chief Roberto Vazquez to appear before them. I have an inkling of what kind of noise the BOPK councilors will make about the CCMC project next week. But we will wait for that to unfurl.

What I am saying is that the mayor’s political rivals can still put up major obstacles to the realization of his ambitious project. Will the mayor be able overcome those obstacles?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 14, 2013.

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