Council demands transparency on P1B pledges

Council demands transparency on P1B pledges
TRANSPARENCY. Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia was urged to withhold the usage of P700 million in savings for the completion of the Cebu City Medical Center, as the City Council is asking where the P1 billion worth of pledges for the structure is. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

THE Cebu City Council is asking about the whereabouts of the nearly P1 billion pledges for the completion of the Cebu City Medical Center, which suspended Mayor Michael Rama got from his “marketing investments campaign.”

City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, in a privileged speech on Wednesday, June 26, urged Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia to withhold the usage of P700 million savings before bidding for the structure, citing the need for transparency on the funding allocation and lack of concrete planning throughout the years.

The council also decided to have an executive session regarding this matter on July 24, 2024, as it invited all the parties involved, such as the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), CCMC medical director, Cebu Medical Society, and private institutions that pledged to fund the hospital.

In March 2023, Rama reported that four Filipino private companies and a group of Chinese businessmen had pledged nearly P1 billion in funds to complete the construction of the CCMC’s eighth to 10th floors.

The local private companies were SM Group, Ayala Group, Robinsons Group, Filinvest Group, and a group of Chinese businessmen.

‘Not all for hospital’

Peter Mancao, medical director of CCMC, told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, June 27, that the funding was secured and there is already ongoing construction on the hospital’s eighth to 10th floor, which will be financed through private sources.

Mancao clarified that only P200 million was secured and was intended for the hospital’s completion.

He explained that the P1 billion in total pledges was intended not only for the hospital’s completion but also for the construction of the Command Center Complex, Medical Arts Building, and a College of Nursing in the area situated along the Bureau of Fire Protection across the CCMC.

Mancao said the last three floors of the hospital were crucial as it would house additional wards and private rooms to accommodate more patients.

He said the late mayor Edgardo Labella’s administration has decided to halt the CCMC’s completion to only the seventh floor.

This was following the reopening of the hospital’s first three floors to the public on Sept. 18, 2021, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mancao said the direction of the previous administration compelled Rama to source out funding from the private sector for the completion of the eighth to 10th floors.

With Rama’s success in securing funding, Mancao said the funds have already been secured, downloaded to the Cebu Medical Society, and allocated to the completion of the eighth to 10th floors.

The construction of the CCMC’s last three floors was given to Dakay Construction as the project’s contractor, which was selected by the donor in consideration of the recommendation of Rama and the CCMC administration, Mancao said.

He said the contractor has commenced the construction on the eighth to 10th floors, however, he has no definite timeline as to its completion.

Once completed, Dakay Construction will bill the civil works, and in turn, the Cebu Medical Society will pay the contractor.

Mancao said that this setup fast-tracks the project’s completion, in comparison to the project being funded by the city’s coffers.

The CCMC has been a functioning hospital with its first three floors, however, Mancao said the lack of ward rooms and elevators has been a major challenge for the hospital in accommodating more patients and accessibility.

However, Mancao assured that work on the installation of elevators has been ongoing and will open soon.

‘Confusing’

During the June 26 session, de los Santos argued that the source of funding and the contractors for the CCMC were confusing.

She recalled that Rama said on Dec. 18, 2023, that the CCMC would rely on private funding for completion at no cost to the city’s coffers, however, Garcia will use the city’s savings.

She also urged the Budget Office to furnish a detailed financial report to the council, including a breakdown of all expenditures on the CCMC construction from the funds provided by the City Government and the contributions and pledges from the private sector.

The councilor also urged the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) to provide the council with a comprehensive report within 15 days, detailing the project’s completion since 2015.

Mancao clarified that the P700 million in savings from the City’s coffers was intended to finish up the interior portions of the hospital’s fourth to seventh floors, including the division and partitions of various departments and facilities.

He said the fourth floor would house the operating and delivery room, the fifth floor would be the Intensive Care Unit, the sixth floor would be the administration, and the seventh floor would accommodate Operation Smile and an eye center.

This was the result of his meeting with Garcia, in which the latter pushed to expedite CCMC’s completion.

Councilor Jerry Guardo, chairman of the committee on infrastructure, in an interview on the June 24 edition of “Beyond the Headlines,” SunStar Cebu’s news and commentary program, said that the local government will use the savings for the completion of the hospital and expects to start the bidding by next month.

The awarding will be done on the first of August after the Acting Mayor reviews and approves the Program of Work and Estimate of the project.

The savings came from the P1 billion contract for the CCMC completion, which was awarded to the contractor M.E. Sicat Construction during Labella’s administration, but was terminated in 2022 due to delays. / with Elianah Ursal, UP Cebu Intern, Ardeshir Morales, HNU Intern, and Jessa Magbutay, NWSSU Intern

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