The construction of the long overdue four-storey Central Block building at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital complex is expected to commence soon after Capitol finally inked an agreement for a P350-million loan to fund the project.

Gov. Roel Degamo, representing the provincial government, signed a memorandum of agreement with the Development Bank of the Philippines on Thursday for the implementation of the project which was conceptualized and started during the time of the late and then Gov. Emilio Macias II.

Others who signed the agreement were Provincial Treasurer Danilo Mendez, DBP Assistant Vice President Ma. Ofelia Tesorio, also acting head of DBP’s Regional Marketing Center-Negros, and Arlyn Navarra, branch head of the DBP Dumaguete.

Degamo’s administration in previous years saw rough sailing after many members of the Provincial Board bucked the proposal for Capitol to secure a loan to complete the project.

The Central Block building is aimed at decongesting the Provincial Hospital, which is overflowing with patients and has exceeded its bed capacity.

According to Governor Degamo, the NOPH currently has a 280-bed capacity, but patients reach to as many as 400 or more each day.

The Governor said that following the approval of the bank loan, he asked the Provincial Engineer’s Office to work double time, possibly during day and night time, to fast track the completion of the Central Block building.

The building is designed to provide additional beds, as well as to house two operating rooms.

Initially, the pillars of the building had been built at the time of the late Governor Macias’ term, but the project was stalled after Degamo took over as provincial governor.

Degamo has expressed gratitude for the loan, saying that it will finally pave the way for Capitol to resume the Central Block building project to cater to its clients.

Meanwhile, Tesorio reiterated the commitment of DBP to the Province, as in the past, “to support the infrastructure requirements of Negros Oriental”.

Under the agreement, the P350 million loan is payable in 15 years, inclusive of two years grace period on principal payment. It is payable in 156 equal monthly amortizations to reckon at the end of the 25th month from initial drawdown.

Governor Degamo said the release of the loan will be in tranches and thus, the program of work will also rely on the available funding. He assured that the Central Block building shall hopefully be partly operational by the end of this year.

Provincial treasurer Mendez disclosed that the provincial government is allowed to borrow up to P1.3 billion based on the certification by the Department of Finance.

The Province also has a maximum paying capacity of more than P200 million, which means that Capitol can still borrow more if needed to complete the Central Block building, he added.

Degamo has vowed that he will no longer rely on the national government to provide financial aid for local projects, after his administration had experienced at least two national funding withdrawals which he describes as politically- motivated. (PNA)