By a narrow vote of six in favor with five against, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Oriental last week authorized Gov. Roel Degamo to secure a P350 million loan from the bank to fund the construction of the central block building of the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital.

SP Board members Saleto Erames, Angelo Teves, Rodrigo Alanano, Edmund Dy, Erwin Michael Macias and Fretzie Sanoria favored the move to authorize Degamo, while BMs Arnie Teves, Peve Ligan, Liland Estacion, Georgita Martinez and Jessica Koppin voted against it.

Erames also proposed a compromise resolution, that states that availment of the loan package is subject to review by the Bureau of Local Government of the Department of Finance, and other safeguards provided for by the law.

Erames said local government units should rely on their own resources and not wait for funding from the national government.

The five BMs who voted against the loan said the provincial government can save on funds, including the interest, as the Department of Health had already promised P100 million for the construction of the NOPH building.

But Macias said the promised P100 million is laden with controversy, and the province could not just wait for its release, if ever there will be one.

He cited the case of Dumaguete City, where a P100 million assistance had been assured for the diversion road. Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria himself had seen the allocation with the Department of Budget and Management, and had been personally told the money will be downloaded to the DPWH for implementation. But years have passed, and it never materialized, Macias added.

Estacion, who chairs the SP Committee on Health and the NOPH Health Board, also pointed out the P100 million DOH funding, and Koppin and Arnie Teves said it is unwholesome to borrow a huge amount, since DOH is also extending assistance to the hospital each year.

Sanoria, who took over the position of her late father, said she had visited the hospital several times and witnessed how difficult it is for indigent patients crowding the hallways of NOPH.

She said she does not mind that the government will pay the interest as long as basic health services are readily availed of by the people, especially indigents. (PNA)