THE P3 billion UST Hospital (USTH) expansion building will begin in May, UST Hospital CEO Dr. Cenon Alfonso said.

“There is no significant stoppage or slippage in the project as scheduled,” Alfonso said in a letter to the Varsitarian. “Phase 2 of the development project is on going.”

The annex became the subject of a column in the Business Mirror last March that alleged the Vatican had issued an order to halt its construction.

According to the article, “The Vatican Steps In,” of Business Mirror’s March 23-24 issue, “the construction of the P3.5 billion UST Hospital annex has been stopped by the Vatican-based Holy See.”

The rest of the article read:

“Here’s the problem. The annex is being constructed on property owned by the University of Santo Tomas, which is in turn, owned by the Dominican religious order. However, the hospital is no longer an arm of the University but a separate corporate entity, some of whose incorporators just happen to be Dominican friars in their individual capacities.”

Alfonso denied the report and challenged the BM to show proof.

“Since it was the Business Mirror that published the article, let it be their burden to show proof of their allegations,” Alfonso said in his letter.

UST Rector Fr. Ernesto M. Arceo, O.P., also said there was no order from the Vatican to stop the construction.

The Varsitarian, through e-mail, asked the Business Mirror for their sources. However, they failed to disclose names.

Former UST Rector Rev. Fr. Tamerlane Lana, O.P., agreed with Fr. Arceo.

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“What I know is that the construction (of the hospital annex) will begin very soon,” Lana said.

Lana also emphasized that the USTH is still a part of the University.

“Since the hospital is on UST grounds, it is still an arm of the University. When it became a separate institution, there was only a change in management and not ownership,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr. Salve Olalia, UST Student Health Services directress and wife of USTH Chief Operating Officer Dr. William Olalia, said the reports were clearly baseless.

“I really don’t know where they got that information. These are merely detractors of the UST hospital,” Olalia said. “There was no order to stop the construction of the annex.” with reports from Verity Ayrah B. Cabigao

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