No one deserves to be deprived of their basic needs.
This has been the thinking and policy being implemented by outgoing Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso in the nation’s capital – the City of Manila. As the chief local executive, and someone who came from the slums of Tondo, Domagoso personally knows the plight of the poor. He knows and once saw the struggle of the social discrimination on medical treatment between the lower class, middle class, and the high class. This pushed Domagoso to apply an inclusive approach across all borders.
For Domagoso, medical services must be given equally to the public regardless of their social status. He firmly believes that what the rich can experience in a hospital, the poor deserves to be treated the same way. Domagoso has been like that in all its programs and policies. It was a breath of fresh air to Manilenos to have a leader that treats each one equally. Like his vision in life, “lahat ng buhay mahalaga. Mahirap, middle class, mayaman, lahat ay pantay-pantay.”
The concept on the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila started as one of the campaign promises of Domagoso when he was running for the mayoral race back in 2019. It was part of the 10-year infrastructure plan together with Vice Mayor Honey-Lacuna Pangan under the banner of the Asenso Manileno, Domagoso’s local political party. The plan was to expand the city’s health services to further cater the needs of the public. The plan is to make Manila as a reimagined city, a city of hope, a city that regained its old glory.
“A new Ospital ng Maynila building will be constructed adjacent to the current building. It will be a huge fully air-conditioned public hospital for all Manileños to enjoy the city’s public health services,” he said during his campaign trail before. As politicians and during campaign period, it was normal to hear highfalutin promises in order to gain the trust and votes from the public. Some, if not most, hold on to this promise of Domagoso. The then mayoral candidate knew that only some believed that he could make this dream possible, but his vision for the city was crystal clear.
May 15, 2019 came and Domagoso was formally proclaimed as the new mayor of the City of Manila after defeating former Manila mayors president Joseph Estrada and Alfredo Lim. Domagoso had a landslide victory with 357,925 votes gained from the six districts of the nation’s capital. His win may be the start for a new Manila, but it was also the beginning of expectations on his campaign promises. It was also the start where he became the darling of the press.
Barely two weeks after his inauguration as the new mayor, Domagoso reiterated his promise on building a new Ospital ng Maynila. In a press conference held on July 16, 2019, the newly elected mayor said that it would be nice for a public hospital to have glass windows facing the sunset of Manila Bay as he eyed to make the facility to have top quality services. The dream was to build it in a matter of two years “if constructed properly and with proper timeline,” Domagoso said.
As such, last June 24, 2020, roughly three months since the pandemic started, the Manila city government had its groundbreaking ceremony for the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila located on Quirino Avenue. The event further marked the beginning of the city’s 449th founding anniversary and the end of the first year of the Domagoso administration. Joining Domagoso during the event was incoming Manila Mayor Doktora Honey Lacuna-Pangan who echoed the sentiment of the 47-year-old mayor on the importance of strengthening the healthcare facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Domagoso, construction should not be hampered, and medical services should be improved in order to support the needs of the public. “No matter how good our healthcare workers are, if they have limited tools na hindi naaayon sa hamon ng panahon, mahihirapan po sila. I won’t mind investing billions for their equipment,” Domagoso said during the groundbreaking ceremony. As how he leads the whole city, it is when at the worst situation, if not worse, should the people feel the government. The government cannot stop at any point because the public depends on its government at times of adversity. This has been the policy being implemented by his administration: be there for the people, listen to their needs, and that no one should be left behind. This has been the statement echoing in the four corners of the Manila City Hall during meetings amid the pandemic. “Tao muna.”
Thus, during the planning on the construction of the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila, it was a strict directive to City Engineer Armand Andres to ensure that the new facility should have high standards. Domagoso once said: Kapag ang Bagong Ospital ng Maynila na itatayo natin ay hindi naging mas maganda kaysa sa St. Luke’s, hindi papasa sa’kin. He even joked in front of the students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila that if this would not be fulfilled, he would ask the contractor to give back the payment of the city.
He said that not because a hospital is a district or public hospital, it could not provide what a private hospital could provide. For the mayor, a hospital should function as a hospital regardless if this is a private hospital or not. “Dapat kahit public facility, first class service ang ibibigay sa tao. Kung ano ang nabibigay ng private hospital kaya rin dapat ng isang public hospital,” he said. “Hindi porke’t public hospital, hindi na pwedeng makamit ng ating mahihirap na kababayan ang serbisyong natatanggap ng mayayaman.”
Under the plan, the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila will be a 10-story fully-airconditioned hospital that will be built adjacent to its current building. It will have six operating rooms, 11 beds for pre/post operation, 12 beds for its neonatal intensive care unit, 25 beds for its intensive care units, 19 private rooms, 52 ward rooms, one room each for MRI and CT Scan, two service elevators and escalators, four bed elevators, and a helipad. Domagoso highlighted the importance of having a helipad as some emergency cases are from outside Manila or vice-versa. He said that one cannot fully depend on ambulances as situations can arise anytime.
As for the part of the old building of the Ospital ng Maynila, Domagoso said that it will be converted into the new College of Medicine building for the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) – one of the cities state colleges located inside the walls of Intramuros. According to PLM President Emmanuel Leyco, this development would help in the improvement of quality education and training for its students. Leyco said that once finished, the old hospital building will become the PLM Allied Health Sciences Campus.
It was a bold statement for a first term Mayor to declare such words. Hopes are getting high, and expectations are being set. Could he fulfill these words? Those who do not know the ins and outs of the Domagoso administration may look at it as outrageous promise against him; however, those part of Domagoso’s inner circle would know that he’s not taking the job as the chief executive lightly. He knows what he wants, but not for personal gain, but always for the people.
It doesn’t matter for Domagoso if it will take him until the late hours to inspect the ongoing construction of the Bagong Ospital of Maynila – may be alone or with other city government officials. He was known for that. The regular 8pm to 5pm government hours do not exist in the mind of Domagoso. Once, he had an inspection at the said hospital at 9pm to see for himself the development being done not only for the people of Manila but for the public. Indeed, the slogan of Bagong Maynila was evidently seen under his helm.
Staying true to his words during the groundbreaking ceremony, construction and inspection were continuously made for the part of the construction workers and government officials. Domagoso knows that pandemic became a challenge in every aspect to the lives of the public, but he knows as well that medical services should be constantly provided. He knows that every lives is at stake in every tick of the clock; that no time should be wasted; that the government should act fast and provide solutions two steps ahead of the possible problem.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic did not become a hindrance to fulfill the promise of Domagoso for the Manilenos who gambled on him. Record from the Department of Engineering and Public Works showed that during the last quarter of the year 2021, the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila was 70 percent complete “The Filipino people deserve better from their government. While it is true that we are challenged nowadays, utilization of funds for public purposes can be directed to priorities,” the mayor said. “This one was designed as a long-term solution: better healthcare facility, better services, fully equipped, enough medical professionals,” he added.
Fast forward to January of the current year, the Manila city government temporarily opened the entrance of the hospital for the vaccination of the public utility drivers and for the general population of minors aged 5-17 years old. It was only halted as medical equipment from abroad started to arrive and for the finishing touches of the construction. According to Domagoso, this move was made to show to the public that the opening of the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila is on the tip of their fingertips already.
It was on June 6 when Domagoso had its final inspection at the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila before its formal inauguration. In his regular The Capital Report, the mayor said that a healing garden, an atrium, and an esplanade were also constructed within the vicinity of the hospital. Equipment for MRI, CT Scan, beds for the rooms have also put into to its respective areas. These, Domagoso said, would make the people feel that they are treated in a private hospital. Little by little, the dream is becoming a reality.
“Ngayon yung nakukuha niyong serbisyo sa St. Lukes, yung nakukuha niyong serbisyo sa Makati Medical Center, makukuha niyo niyo sa pampublikong ospital na ang tawag ay Bagong Ospital ng Maynila,” he said. “Gusto ko yung masasarap, dekalikdad na gamit para sa inyo. I always wanted the best.” As per the inspection, the equipment that are arriving are from countries such as Germany and the United States.
Today, exactly two years after its groundbreaking, the people of Manila will witness the fulfillment of the campaign promise that once said by a boy from Tondo; the promise to Manilenos that a private looking public hospital will be built in two years came true; the promise to PLM became a reality; hopes were not broken, expectations were met. On the afternoon of June 24, 2022, the city government of Manila will formally inaugurate the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila – a state of the art public hospital in the nation’s capital.
True enough, all that has been said back in the 2019 during the mayoral race was put into action – the two- year target, the 10-story fully-airconditioned hospital, the high-technology equipment, the private-looking public hospital, and the promise to PLM on having its own building for its College of Medicine. The dream of the Tondo boy for the Manilenos were put into reality. Just what the mayor has always been saying “Tupad laway na tayo.”
A deed of donation for the old structure of Ospital ng Maynila has already been signed between the city government of Manila and the PLM administration last June 20, marking the beginning of the weeklong celebration of the city’s 451st founding anniversary. Domagoso said during his speech during the ceremonial turnover of the old Ospital ng Maynila to PLM that it targets to accommodate more students in the future.
Domagoso then thanked all of those involved in the construction of the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila for all their effort and sacrifices. For Domagoso, he would not have fulfilled his promise to the public without the help of each and every one – from the construction workers, engineers, electricians, and the rest of the team who made the dream possible.
Indeed, the construction of the Bagong Ospital ng Maynila was in line with the aspiration and vision of Domagoso in giving an equal treatment when it comes to medical services. Finally, those belonging in the lower class can experience what the middle- and high-class individuals are experiencing in the private hospital without having spend millions of pesos. The Ospital ng Maynila has truly become the face of the Bagong Maynila is all about – an inclusive approach to the public. All thanks to the leadership of outgoing Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.