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Duterte signs EO creating already half-completed OFW Hospital

08 December 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The OFW hospital in Pampanga has been under construction for more than a year

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order hastening the establishment of the 100-bed Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital, which will cater to the health-care needs of OFWs and their families, Malacañang said.

Construction of the facility was underway long before Duterte signed on Tuesday Executive Order No. 154, which called for setting up the hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga.

Officials now say the target date of completion for the hospital is just before the presidential election in May next year. It is still not clear if OFWs can get treated there for free, or with a special discount.


An OFW leader in Hong Kong welcomed the project but said the facility should not be run like a private hospital that charges migrant workers and their families exorbitant fees.

“Ang problema talaga ay hindi kaya ng mga OFW at mga pamilya nila ang magpagamot sa mga ospital dahil sa taas ng singil ng mga ito. Sa dami ng binabayaran mula sa sahod nila, tulad ng mandatory membership sa PhilHealth, ay wala nang natitira para sa pagpapagamot,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong.

(The real problem is OFWs and their families can’t afford to go to the hospitals for medical treatment due to the high charges. With lots of fees they are paying out of their low salary, such as the mandatory PhilHealth membership, nothing is left for their medical needs.)


Pelaez also said more OFW hospitals should be set up around the country, instead of just one place, because migrant workers and other poor families cannot afford the fees at existing hospitals.

EO 154 describes OFWs as “unsung modern-day heroes of the Philippines as they brave living and working in a foreign land to support their families back home and their regular remittances have contributed to the stability and growth of the Philippine economy.”

“The establishment of a specialty government hospital primarily devoted to OFWs will recognize the valuable contribution of Filipino migrant workers and alleviate their health problems and concerns,” EO 154 reads.


The executive order also creates the Inter-Agency Committee on the OFW Hospital, which will help establish and operate the health institution. The ICOH will be headed by the secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment and co-chaired by the Secretary of Health.

Members include the administrators of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and two representatives of land-based and sea-based OFWs.

Funding for the establishment and initial operation of the OFW Hospital will be charged against available appropriations of the DOLE, the executive order states.

Pindutin para sa detalye

The ICOH or the Board of Trustees will coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management to ensure that subsequent funding requirements of the hospital will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

Labor, Malacanang and Pagcor officials launched the hospital construction in Nov last year

A DOLE official said earlier that work on the OFW Hospital is already 49% done and the facility can be completed before the national elections next May. It was initially set to be inaugurated this quarter.

Labor Undersecretary Renato Ebarle had said the EO would address the delay in the opening of the OFW Hospital, as the bidding process for the supply of medical equipment could not start immediately.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Ebarle said a Php200 million donation from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for buying the medical equipment could not be touched due to legal concerns.

Cabinet secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement the facility aims to cater to the health-care needs of OFWs and their qualified dependents.

It also seeks to promote and publish scientific research on the occupational diseases common to OFWs, as well as assist universities and other institutions in their studies on the workers’ health-related concerns, he said.

Duterte had previously pushed for the establishment of a Department of OFWs, which would also be headed concurrently by the DOLE secretary. However, no new updates have been issued concerning the project.

A kickoff ceremony was held on Nov 20 last year to officially mark the construction of the OFW hospital on a two-hectare land donated by the provincial government of Pampanga.

The construction was funded by a P500 million donation from Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Inc., a unit set up by the operator of Solaire Resort and Casino.

But legal hurdles appear to have arisen from Pagcor’s pledge to buy state-of-the-art medical equipment for the hospital.


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