QUESTIONS arise on the construction of an extension building for the Western Visayas Sanitarium (WVS) in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo that was funded by the Department of Health (DOH).

This as the current design, if bidded and will be allowed, has its façade or main entrance facing the "exit" of the main hospital building.

As such, it would be “back to the future” for the P25-million DOH project that has now stirred the Office of Second District Representative Arcadio Gorriceta.

The multi-million annex building is set to be constructed near the current main building of the WVS. Gorriceta pointed out that the problem is the orientation of the existing one that faces a barangay road.

To note, a provincial road has since been in existence along the WVS lot with ongoing road improvement by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). This year alone, a P137-million road concreting works was opened, making the WVS area along the major access road leading to the Iloilo International Airport among other major routes.

With the lowest bidder undergoing post-qualification process, the multi-million project is expected to be awarded by January 17th. For Representative Gorriceta, it is not too late just as yet to "reconsider" the said design, particularly since further developments in the area are in the offing.

For one, WVS is located a stone's throw away from the prime property now set to be developed by Megaworld Corporation. Also, the road network is the same stretch of the provincial road for motorists of Alimodian, Leon and San Miguel (Aleosan) and other towns to and from Southern Iloilo.

"Since the construction has not yet started, as the Notice of Award is not signed yet, we believe it is not too late to reconsider our observations and construct the building with its façade facing the Sta. Barbara - San Miguel main road," Gorriceta said. "In this way, the new multi-storey building will make an impressive effect on the area and create a positive image for Western Visayas Sanitarium."

Gorriceta, in an official letter sent to WVS chief Dr. Annabel De Guzman, has since voiced out his concern, stating that "based on the plans, the orientation of the new building is somewhat appropriate...."

For De Guzman though, it is up to the DOH hierarchy even as she expressed support to Gorriceta's stance.

"In as much as we understand the validity and benefits of your recommendation, we will still need to refer this matter to DOH Assistant Secretary Roland Cortez, chairman of the Hospital Facility Enhancement Program (HFEP) and Architect Rebecca Penafiel, Director III of HFEP, who approved and designed the said project," excerpts of De Guzman's letter-reply to Gorriceta went.

De Guzman’s position was stated in a January 3 letter to the lawmaker, but it was only received by Gorriceta after the personal delivery made in the morning of January 8th.

In an interview, Dr. Elvira Sinoro, of WVS Bids and Awards and Committee (BAC), confirmed the post-qualification process, adding that no awarding of the project has been made.

Sinoro also disclosed the recent visit of Architect Penafiel, while adding that Penafiel made an offhand comment "to go ahead with the project as designed."

"The final decision is with the Central Office and we already forwarded the letter of Representative Gorriceta there. But as of now, we are still evaluating the documents of the lowest bidder and if we find these unresponsive to the requirements, then we can still consider the next lowest bidder," she explained.

"But yes, Architect Penafiel told us to go ahead with the project with the same orientation (facing the barangay road)," she added.

The P25-million WVS project first came to view when in September 2013, Gorriceta wrote to DOH Secretary Enrique Ona about the need to put up a two-storey building in the city.

By October, Assistant Secretary Cortez wrote to Gorriceta relaying that a P27-million funding was approved.

"All I want is for the WVS P25-million project to be constructed properly. It is after all, the people's money and we want it to be right today yet more so, for the future," Gorriceta said. (Florence F. Hibionada)