DoLE seeking P178 million a year to pay for OFW hospital staff

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is asking for over P178 million a year from the Department of Budget and Management to staff the hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In a briefing Wednesday, Labor Undersecretary Renato L. Ebarle said the department will need P178 million a year to pay 293 employees of the OFW Hospital, to be established in Pampanga.

“We are proposing to the budget department to fund about 293 medical personnel for this hospital with an estimate cost of P178 million per annum… for the salaries and wages,” he said.

Mr. Ebarle said the construction of the OFW Hospital is currently ongoing and projected for a 2022 opening, with work going on round the clock following delays caused by the pandemic. Completion as of May 6 was 15.7%, ahead of schedule.

Mr. Ebarle said the DoLE hopes the hospital will admit its first patient by June 2022.

He added that DoLE is currently working with the Department of Health on the procurement of hospital equipment, and needs to wrap up the process by the third quarter to ensure delivery by the end of 2021.

On Sunday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III asked the establishment of the Committee on the Construction of the OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center Project, which is chaired by Mr. Ebarle and Labor Undersecretary Ana C. Dione, to fast-track the construction of the Hospital.

A law is required to authorize DoLE to manage the hospital. Mr. Ebarle said the department is currently in talks with legislators to expedite such a measure. — Gillian M. Cortez

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