‘Build makeshift hospitals’

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BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Bacolod Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. is urging the Bacolod City government to immediately build adequate make-shift hospitals and a negative-pressurized isolation facility using funds from the P800 million budget set aside for the construction of the Bacolod Coliseum.

In a statement released to the media, Gamboa cited the case of a COVID-19 patient who died due to cardiac arrest in his home after no hospital would admit him.

He claimed that the city government is unresponsive of its people’s cry for help.

“The hospitals are refusing admission because their isolation facilities are overwhelmed, healthworkers are exhausted or afraid, therefore they resign,” Gamboa said.

Bacolod has almost 600 confirmed positive cases resulting from the mass testing conducted last week. Mass testing is ineffective in the reduction of cases without adequate and clinically managed isolation facilities to accommodate those confirmed positive, Gamboa said.

“Funds intended for the Bacolod Coliseum or other infrastructure projects , which are not necessary at this time, can be diverted to finance these projects,” he said.

In response, City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said the project for the Bacolod Coliseum and Museum is under the condition of a donated property amounting to P800 million worth of assets of the city.

If they will not push through with the construction of both the Coliseum and the Bacolod South Terminal, the city risks losing the property worth about P800 million, he said.

Bayatan said the project was formulated and consummated to be performed long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gamboa is again exposing his ignorance of the law. He does not know how the budget operates and how appropriations are applied,” Bayatan said.

“If you are going to divert it to another form of expenditure, this is technical malversation of funds and he (Gamboa) is risking a disallowance from the Commission on Audit and an eventual Ombudsman case,” he added.

If Gamboa is willing to take a risk, he should propose a resolution before the Sangguniang Panlungsod and deliberate it on the floor and not go to social media, Bayatan said.

Bacolod has almost 600 confirmed positive cases resulting from the mass testing conducted last week.

Gamboa said mass testing is ineffective in the reduction of cases without adequate and clinically managed isolation facilities to accommodate those confirmed positive for the virus.

He said the city can also do emergency hiring of trained health workers and doctors to serve in the makeshift facilities but back them with adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs), appropriate salary schemes and isolation dormitories for thier board and lodging.

Bayatan said if Gamboa wants to play hero in this time of pandemic he is welcome to volunteer anytime and join the Emergency Operation Committee under the auspices of the Office of the President.

The Bayanihan Act only said they can divert their emergency fund because this is a matter of appropriation to attend to the COVID-19 pandemic but it did not say they have to cancel or lose a very big amount of asset, he said.*

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