Friday, September 12, 2008 [ sunstar.com.ph ]
By Debra M. Estero & Linette C. Ramos
Of Sun.Star Cebu
BUSINESS tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan made a quick unscheduled visit at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) yesterday, after expressing interest in acquiring a hospital in Cebu.
“If it needs to be enhanced and invested in, then we’ll take a look at it,” said Pangilinan during a news conference. He serves as chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and its mother company First Pacific Company Ltd.
Pangilinan said the company is still looking for a hospital to acquire in Cebu, because “it’s an area where we need to make an investment in.”
At present, MPIC operates three tertiary hospitals—the Makati Medical Center, Cardinal Santos Medical Center and the Davao Doctors’ Hospital—with a total of 1,100 beds.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he was of the impression that Pangilinan is the one behind the University of San Carlos’ (USC) plan to buy the 47-year-old government hospital.
“To my understanding, that’s his money. He’s the one helping USC to buy it,” the mayor told a news conference.
The mayor also said he had lunch with Pangilinan last month but the possible purchase of CCMC by USC was not discussed.
Pangilinan made his unscheduled visit to the hospital yesterday afternoon after formally opening the Asia Carrier Conference in Shangri-la’s Mactan Island Resort.
He is also interested in CCMC’s nursing school since the Davao-based hospital that MPIC operates also has a similar operation.
MPIC plans to run “spa-hospitals” in support of the country’s medical tourism industry, and aims to cater to the tourists from countries like Japan, Korea, China and the United States.
Under tight security, Pangilinan went to the CCMC past 2 p.m. for a visit that lasted only three minutes, but abruptly left when members of the media approached him for an interview.
He had just entered the hospital when his security noticed the reporters waiting for him. Without seeing any of the rooms or hospital officials, he left the building. No one from his party was willing to comment on the purpose of the visit.
“Anyway, whatever it is, whatever their offer is, it’s not binding. We’ll just see what we can do with the offer and we will study it... In all my years as mayor, I tried to be as predictable as possible. When I say this is it, this is it. I don’t play games, it’s just not my style,” Osmeña said.
Unlike what some officials think, Osmeña said he is serious about selling the city hospital.
The mayor reacted to comments made during the City Council session last Wednesday that talks on the sale of the hospital surfaced just to challenge the hospital personnel to perform better.
“We don’t want to have a potential buyer feel that they are being used to make the people improve. It’s a good objective but I don’t do that to people. It’s not fair to USC, who is already doing all the studies,” he said.
Whatever the offer and options available, the mayor assured that CCMC will not be sold overnight since it will require a thorough evaluation of the offers, to find out if it will translate to better services than what CCMC provides at present.
Osmeña also said that he will not approve the request to make CCMC Acting Chief Myrna Go permanent, saying that she still has not earned the promotion.
He said that he is not satisfied with the performance of Dr. Go. Instead, he offered the post to his consultant, Dr. Rodolfo Bigornia.
“Dr. Bigornia is a good doctor. If he wants to be chief of CCMC, I’ll put him there,” the mayor said.
Depending on Bigornia’s willingness to take over and what he can offer to improve the services of CCMC, Osmeña said there might be a possibility that he will give the hospital management another chance to improve.
As for complaints on the lack of funds for capital outlay, the mayor said he never received any request or accomplishment report from CCMC.
“If they didn’t ask for any budget when they need it and if they don’t give me an accomplishment report, what does that say of the management?” the mayor asked.