Seares: P1 billion more needed to complete CCMC, raising cost of 10-story city hospital building to P3 billion. City Council may create group to oversee still-unfinished, almost 8-year-old project.

SunStar File/Contributed
SunStar File/Contributed

THE Cebu City Council, prodded chiefly by Minority Floor Leader Nestor Archival Sr., has long wanted to know more about the construction of the new building and home of CCMC or Cebu City Medical Center.

A March 8, 2023 executive session was topped with the inquiry on (1) how much is needed to complete the construction and (2) when it would be finished. It would be eight years this July since the contract for phase 1 was awarded.

The new CCMC will have 11 levels, from ground floor to the roof deck. As of now, only three floors can be used and are being used.

Phase 1 constructed structural frames from ground to seventh floor; exterior walls up to the fifth floor, and interior partitions up to the second floor. A City Hall engineer clarified to Councilor Noel Wenceslao the first phase was only the shell of the building ("shell ra ni sa CCMC").

The construction was taking too long. Last November 9, 2022, Mayor Mike Rama lost patience ("enough is enough") and terminated all contracts over CCMC, topped with the contract with M.E. Sicat Construction, the last of a series of contractors handling various stages of the project. The City would take over the construction, Mayor Rama said. Work was on the fourth phase -- eighth floor to 10th floor -- when the last contractor was booted out.

From the March 8 City Council session and other sources, News+One gathered:

(1) THE MONEY FLOW. Engr. Jonathan L. Tumulak Jr. of the city's Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) told the City Council, phase 1 cost P566.085 million (from the original P514.979 million, or a P52 million increase).

Tumulak said the total construction cost should've already reached P2.8 billion, broken down thus: Phase 1, P600 million; Phase 2, P300 million; Phase 3, P100 million, and Phase 4, P1.8 billion.

In 2021, Tumulak said, they needed only P1.8 billion to finish construction ("complete gyud ang CCMC... magamit na gyud ang hospital at that time... hangtod sa roof deck"). Apparently not included in his count was P36.332 million under Phase 1.1 for interior masonry works on fifth and sixth floors, which, Tumulak said, was funded by Department of Health.

But in 2022, Tumulak said, inflation required adjustment of prices as fuel cost went up.

(2) 'P1 BILLION MORE.' So how much would they need, Archival asked. "Nine hundred million, Mr. Chair," Tumulak said.

Pressed by Councilor Archival, however, Tumulak said the P900 million estimated in 2022 would be about P1 billion now. Which would total the construction cost of the new CCMC to about P3 billion.

(3) ARCHIVAL'S GRIPES. Aside from his wish to get specifics on money cost and project completion, Archival's complaints about the CCMC construction included the matter of:

[] PLANS. 'No clear plans of what should be done.' Archival has suspected there's no complete plan that guides the City Government in completing the building. Tumulak said there's a "complete plan" from the start but at the same time, he admits the plan "lacks specific details." The plans were only about "the general structure." Earlier he explained that the details had to come later because it's "a medical structure ('so specialized gyud siya')."

[] ADDITIONS, AWARDS. A big question, Archival said, is "we continue to award, we continue to add, we continue to award, we continue to add..." Apparently, he referred to what Councilor Noel Wenceslao observed: "different contractors, different scopes of work." DEPW's Tumulak responded to the issue of serial contracts: "Yes, Mr. Chair," conceding the work in phases, or "chop-chop" fashion, as one councilor put it.

(4) MAYOR MIKE'S PROMISE/GOAL ON COMPLETION. Councilor Pastor Alcover Jr. said Mayor Rama promised in one of their meetings the CCMC construction "will be finished this year without a single centavo" from the funds of the City Government.

Councilor Dondon Hontiveros, who presided the session, confirmed that the mayor mentioned the promise, "many times," because of the result of his continuous appeals for private support. But that didn't mean that the budget from the City wouldn't be spent for the construction, Hontiveros said.

Councilor Wenceslao also affirmed Hontiveros's explanation about the remaining fund already appropriated. After the appropriated sum is depleted, the City will tap pledges from the private sector, Wenceslao said.

That can mean the City Council doesn't have to appropriate additional funds. Archival said the Sanggunian "already budgeted about P1.9 billion." Would the remaining P1 billion or so to complete the project no longer come then from City Hall coffers?

(5) OVERSEER OF THE PROJECT. Annoyed by the absence of complete plans -- "from mechanical, electrical, structural, plumbing, everything and the colors, none" -- Archival said he'd seek the creation of a body "that will monitor and make the strategic plans" on how to complete the project.

Archival said DEPW alone couldn't do it because of politics ("under man gud mo sa politico").

(6) BUILDING'S INTEGRITY. Engr. Danny Richard Urot, who represented DEPW with Engr. Tumulak, told the City Council there's "a body supervised by Engr. Dakay" that's testing again to confirm the test done by MEC-CAT. The group will report to the mayor, Urot said.

The report may tell whether the building is strong enough to withstand a strong typhoon or earthquake.

(7) THREE FLOORS OPERATIONAL. Dr. Anton Oliver Reposar II, acting chief of CCMC, appointed only last March 13, 2023, told the Sanggunian it is now using three floors of the building: lower ground, upper ground, and the second floor. "We maximized all the available floors."

The hospital is accredited as level 2 with 225 beds capacity, 10 ICU beds, tertiary level on laboratory, secondary level on imaging department, and level 2 on ambulance services.

Reposar said they're still aiming for level 3, "to serve more constituents" and "render more services." Once the 10th story is completed, they'll have more than 600 beds capacity.


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