THE alarming number of dengue cases in the province has prompted the Provincial Government to provide a lot for the construction of a new blood bank in addition to that of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said that the new blood bank will be located at the building to be vacated by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

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BFAR will relocate to Baragany 39. The said structure is at the back of the National Food Authority building.

The existing building, the governor said, will be remodeled and configured to suit the needs of the blood bank.

The putting up of a blood bank had been the request of several local government units (LGUs) in the province, especially on the alarming cases of dengue in the province.

From January to July 3, the Provincial Health Office monitored a total of 834 dengue cases. Compared to only 329 dengue cases registered during the same period in 2009, the number of dengue cases up July 3 represents a staggering 153 percent increase.

With the additional blood bank, it will be easier for persons who need blood transfusions to gain access to the much-needed blood.

Dr. Ernell Tumimbang, Provincial Health Officer-in-Charge, was tasked by the governor to facilitate the setting up of the new blood bank.

Meanwhile, Marañon said that the Provincial Government's vacant properties located at the back of the Provincial Capitol building and the lot formerly occupied by the Provincial Agriculture Office up to the side of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) facing the provincial lagoon are open to interested investors.

The property within the PNB block includes the building formerly occupied by Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA). The structure is already dilapidated, Marañon said. OPA's office is now located at the second floor of the Provincial Administration Center.

Marañon said that the Provincial Government will not sell the said properties.

"We would be more amenable to a joint venture between the province and the investor. Or the investor can lease the property," Marañon said.

The property beside the PNB building is about half a hectare. It was given back by PNB to the Provincial Government after a review was made on its long term lease agreement. The review revealed that, for the whole lot that PNP was occupying, the bank was paying only a nominal amount of P1.50 per year. At the time the lease agreement was signed, PNB was still entirely owned by the National Government. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)