Former President and now Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga is seeking autonomy for and protection of assets of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) from being sold or related actions.
Arroyo made the proposal under her House Bill 1240, which gives the VMMC greater flexibility and autonomy in serving the medical needs of Filipino veterans and retired soldiers and their dependents by making it a corporate entity.
Under a corporation, the medical center will be governed by a Board of Trustees that will have the authority to set rules and regulations for the administration and operation of the hospital, as well as enter into agreements deemed desirable for the purpose of promoting its purposes and objectives.
Section 16 of Arroyo’s bill provides that assets of the VMMC cannot be “sold, transferred, ceded, conveyed, assigned and encumbered.”
“Recognizing the invaluable sacrifices and services of our veterans and military retirees, it is only imperative that a medical facility dedicated to serve their medical needs as well as their dependents must be provided stability, viability and ample resources to ensure that they receive quality medical and health services,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
“All existing assets of the VMMC must be under the control and supervision of the hospital, with the issuance of all the corresponding certificates of landholding in its favor,” according to Arroyo, who was under hospital arrest in the VMMC from 2011 to 2016 for charges of electoral sabotage, graft and plunder.
Since then, courts have cleared the former president of all the charges.
“While the board may approve the implementation of contracts, mechanisms and financial instruments to give the hospital the flexibility to generate revenues and other resources from land grants and other [pieces of property], such arrangements should sustain and protect the hospital in accordance with law and be exclusive of the medical core zone of the hospital,” Arroyo said.
The VMMC is currently under the control and supervision of the Department of National Defense, and its budget only accounts for one percent of the Defense’s department’s annual budget.
But unlike other government hospitals such as the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center, Philippine General Hospital and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, it does not have its own charter and has no other source of income to support the free care and treatment of veterans and retirees and their dependents.
The 55-hectare VMMC was earlier reported to have been the focus of a development plan by the Ayala group as a possible location of the North Integrated Transport System terminal.
The Defense department, on the other hand, is also contemplating selling or leasing the golf course in the medical center.
“The preservation of the value of the assets of the hospital shall be of primordial consideration,” Arroyo said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI