'Make sure children's hospital gets land title by Christmas'
MANILA, Philippines – Why does a government hospital that serves poor children and sits on government land have to live with threats of eviction?
The Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) doesn't hold a title to its lot in Quezon City because another government agency, the National Housing Authority (NHA), failed to do its part of a land swap in 1992.
According to a PCMC presentation before senators on Tuesday, October 28, the housing agency not only failed to transfer the land title in PCMC's name, it also sold part of the hospital's lot to another government office.
NHA has since asked PCMC to offer to buy the land where its building stands at P32,500 per square meter or a total of P530.465 million.
This prompted Senator Benigno Aquino IV to urge the NHA to make sure the land ownership issue is settled in favor of the hospital – before Christmas.
"Let's make this an early Christmas gift, not just for officials and employees of PCMC, but to all poor Filipino children who enjoy quality free health services," Aquino said at the hearing conducted by the Senate committee on health on Tuesday.
Aquino earlier filed Senate Resolution 266 calling on concerned government agencies to work together to resolve the issue.
“Let us set aside other issues and think of the welfare of thousands of poor Filipinos who rely on PCMC for their children’s health,” the senator said.
No categorical answer
NHA officials, led by general manager Chito Cruz, did not give a categorical yes. They said they would only act on it if the Department of Justice (DOJ) issues a legal opinion that there indeed has been a consummated swap of lands.
Aquino got a commitment from the DOJ to resolve the legal aspect of the issue by November.
Some 70,000 children from poor families are accommodated for consultations at PCMC every year, while around 10,000 are confined at the hospital. PCMC specializes in the following:
- pediatric cancer and blood diseases
- pediatric neurology and neurosurgery
- surgery for congenital syndromes
- orthopedics and bone deformities
- pulmonary including asthma
- nephrology and pediatric dialysis
- cranio-facial syndromes
- adolescent medicine
Based on PCMC's presentation before senators, here is a timeline of the property dispute:
1980 - PCMC starts operating on a 6.4-hectare land, which is part of the Lungsod ng Kabataan
February 4, 1992 – Health Secretary Alfredo Bengzon and NHA General Manager Robert Balao sign a MOA to convey 9 hectares of the DOH’s property in Barangay Sambag 2, Cebu, in exchange for the 6.4 hectares of PCMC
February 2, 2001 – President Gloria Arroyo directs the conveyance of the DOH property in Sambag in favor of NHA, as provided for in the 1992 MOA.
March 31, 1998 – President Fidel Ramos signs Presidential Proclamation 1197, giving 10,000 square meters of PCMC land to the Office of the Ombudsman.
September 7, 2005 – President Arroyo signs Presidential Proclamation No. 915, transferring 6,000 square meters of PCMC lot to the Court of Tax Appeals, further reducing PCMC lot to its current 3.7 hectares.
2010 – Land titles originally in the name of Southern Islands Hospital (now Don Vicente Sotto Medical Center) are cancelled and further subdivided to a total of 1,028 individual occupants. PCMC lots, however, remain in NHA's name.
August 2, 2013 – NHA sells 2,500 square meters from PCMC Lot B to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) for P83 million, which PCMC opposes and wants voided and nullified. – Miriam Grace A. Go/Rappler.com