NEW UST RECTOR Fr. Ernesto Arceo O.P. defended the decision of the University Board of Trustees (BOT) to separate the UST Hospital (USTH) from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in the face of allegations by the UST Medical Alumni Association of Southern California (USTMAASC) that the separation was done in bad faith.

“They have convicted us without giving us a day in court,” Arceo told the Varsitarian. “They should have verified first the truth regarding the hospital’s separation before they made such harsh accusations and pronounced us guilty.”

Last October, USTMAASC president Carmelita Co-Casquejo sent a letter to the rector, informing him of the alumni association’s temporary withdrawal of donations because “the ownership of the hospital has been changed and transferred to private individuals without the mandate of the Dominican Master General under very questionable circumstances.”

“We are saddened by the scrupulous and improper dealings of UST,” Co-Casquejo said in the letter.

Former UST Rector Tamerlane Lana O.P., along with the rest of the BOT, authorized USTH in 2005 to become a private corporation that is distinct and separate from the University after the USTH incurred P57.4 million in financial losses in 2004.

The increasing debt of the USTH had also prompted Lana and the BOT to sign a long-term lease of all the clinical facilities and equipment of Medicine.

Arceo maintained that the University’s move was legal and reasonable since the separation has enabled the USTH to develop and improve its services. “Before, the major projects in the hospital had to go through the Economic Council, Council of Regents, and, finally, the Board of Trustees before being approved. After its separation from Medicine, the USTH was able to expand and establish the Benavides Cancer Institute,” Arceo said.

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In a letter of response, Arceo asked for an apology from USTMAASC, claiming that allegations were “baseless and unfair.”

“We thanked the USTMAASC for their concern to the Medicine and USTH. However, the letter they sent to us was judgmental and condemnatory,” he said.

As of press time, the UST Medical Alumni Association of America has not yet released any statement regarding the issue. Leonard James D. Postrado

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