WHILE still awaiting the results of a thorough review of plans to expand and commercialize the UST Hospital, the University is bent on seeking better terms from a group of banks supposed to finance the expansion, following a directive from the Dominican headquarters in Rome for the hospital to keep its educational character.

Acting Rector Rolando V. de la Rosa, O.P. said the University wants to renegotiate the P3-billion loan from a consortium of banks signed last April to reduce the cost of the hospital redevelopment.

A committee has been studying the redevelopment plan and had submitted a preliminary report last October 8. The committee was due to submit another report last October 15, which will be fine-tuned before the results are disseminated, Father De la Rosa said in an interview.

UST Hospital Inc., the corporation that separated from the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 2004 to undertake the ambitious redevelopment plan, will be dissolved next month.

“The University is applying for the shortening of the lifespan of the corporation from 50 years down until just December of this year.” Father De la Rosa said.

In September, the Dominican Master General, Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, O.P., ordered the dissolution of the new hospital corporation and a review of the expansion plan, as well as the cancellation or renegotiation of the P3-billion loan. This followed the sudden resignations of the top three University officials, Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., Vice Chancellor Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P. who was also head of the Philippine Dominican Province, and Vice Rector Juan Ponce, O.P.

UST honors Nick Joaquin

The resignations brought out in the open an internal rift in the Dominican Order on how to go about the hospital redevelopment. Supporters of the expansion plan had claimed it would lift the hospital from years of losses, but critics said the loan would endanger the Pontifical University’s patrimony.

The Dominican Master cited violations of Canon Law on alienation of Church property, which requires clearance from the Vatican and the Dominican Curia for transactions amounting to $100,000 or more.

Father De la Rosa said he has assumed the position of hospital chief executive officer, while a team of doctors is handling day-to-day operations. With the order to dissolve the hospital corporation, the chief executive officer, Dr. Cenon Alfonso, and the chief operating officer (COO), Dr. William Olalia, tendered their resignations voluntarily, he said.

The functions of the COO have been assumed by Dr. Mateo Bagsic, the medical director; Dr. Rolando Cabatu, ancillary services director; and Dr. Edgardo Orlina, administrative director.

“We call it the HAT or the Hospital Administration Team,” Father De la Rosa said.

Asked whether the construction of the 19-story hospital tower will still push through, the acting rector said he was still awaiting the results of the study on the expansion plan.

“The hospital’s redevelopment plans are being aggressively reviewed,” Father De la Rosa said.

The University is going to honor the soon-to-be-dissolved hospital corporation’s obligations. In doing so, revenues from tuition won’t be touched, he assured.

“Tuition is used to maintain University operations, even past financial reports would show that 80 to 90 per cent of the tuition goes to the employees’ salaries and benefits,” Father De la Rosa said. “We have a ‘special fund’ to manage the hospital’s liabilities.”

Lavish book details La Naval lore and legend

Open letter

A group of doctors opposed to the P3-billion redevelopment plan, meanwhile, has issued an open letter calling on the University administration to let the hospital corporation settle its own debts.

The letter, “Veritas vos liberabit” or “The truth shall set you free: Clinico-Pathological dissection of UST Hospital, Inc.” contained arguments against the redevelopment plan that had found their way into the opinion columns of several newspapers.

It was signed by Doctors Ronaldo Asuncion, Conrado Banzon, Corazon Lim, Artemio Ordinario and, Jesus Perez, and was a response to the lengthy letter by Doctors Cenon Alfonso and William Olalia to medical alumni explaining the hospital controversy.

Doctors Asuncion, Banzon, Lim, Ordinario, and Perez, noted that of the P3-billion loan, only P1.2 billion will be used to fund the hospital and the bigger chunk of P1.8 billion will be for the payment of interests, lawyers, commissions, and others.

This would be “scandalous and grossly disadvantageous to UST,” they said.

“UST Hospital, Inc. should pay its own debts. UST cannot be the golden parachute and safety net that will bail out the mismanagement of USTH, Inc.,” the letter stated. The greater interest of the University and country must prevail over personal relations. Eventually it is the Filipino people who will suffer by this catastrophic misadventure. The blood, sweat and tears of the Filipino people are not the silver thread and golden needle that will mend the blunders of USTH, Inc.! Verily, these liabilities are the silver bullets from a smoking gun.” Hershey D. Homol


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.