P53M for construction of South Cotabato provincial hospital

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – The provincial government of South Cotabato has so far secured some P53 million worth of funding commitments for the planned construction of the provincial hospital’s extension facility early next year.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said Friday the local government has received an additional pledge of P10 million from business conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC), bringing the firm’s promised funding for the project to P25 million.

He said the Department of Health has earlier allocated P28 million under its health facilities enhancement program for the provincial hospital annex, which will be built in a 4.8-hectare lot in Surallah town.

“SMC’s pledge will be utilized for the construction of the initial buildings and facilities. We have requested them to handle the construction of the building instead of the provincial government,” the governor said in a report from the South Cotabato Information Office.

SMC has been building up its presence in the province following its acquisition last year of a major coal mining project in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town.

Sultan Energy Philippines Corp. sold its coal mine project in Lake Sebu in June last year to SMC, which also holds the coal operating contract of Daguma Agro Minerals Inc. in the same area.

Studies said the coal mining area, which is part of the mineral-rich Daguma Mountain Range, contains 426 million metric tons of coal deposits. Initial exploration and drilling results have blocked 55 million metric tons of reserves that can be mined in 526 hectares of the mountain range.

Pingoy said that aside from the P53 million pledges, the local government is currently negotiating with various government and non-government entities for additional contributions for the project, which was estimated to cost P145 million when finally completed.

He said they were also coordinating with officials of the six municipalities within the province’s upper valley area to help look for additional funds for the project.

The upper valley area, which is the main beneficiary of the project, covers the municipalities of Surallah, Banga, T’boli, Lake Sebu, Norala and Sto. Nino.

“We have not allocated definite funds for the project but we’re hoping that more donors will pour in their share in the coming months. So the project will be constructed progressively as the funds come in,” he said.

Pingoy said they expect the project’s construction to begin within the first quarter of 2012 and would be completed before yearend.

The governor said the hospital annex was planned to operate as a Level 2 facility with an initial capacity of 25 beds.

Based on the DOH’s hospital classification criteria, a Level 2 facility is mainly a “non-departmentalized hospital that provides clinical care and management on the prevalent diseases in the locality.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)