The powers that be, has no power

After months of waiting and a mega turnover with much press release, the new 32-bed COVID-19 isolation facility at Brgy. Alijis in Bacolod City remains that – a mere press release.

The light in the minds of the powers that be in City Hall was apparently not powered enough to ensure that power is installed in order to operate the new isolation center.

It was both hilarious and annoying to learn that three weeks post the turnover, the facility stands in the field unused because no one – neither officials nor anyone from the thousands of employees under the city government, ever thought that power is vital for the facility to function.

What irks me is knowing that the facility, as announced, will serve as a recovery center for those who had been hospitalized but have recuperated enough to allow their transfer, in order to decongest our hospitals for more severe cases.

Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia himself said in a release from the city PIO that “the project will save the city a lot of local funds that it can use for other COVID-response expenditures. The City can also accommodate in these facilities more asymptomatic or mild COVID positive cases and free up the hospitals so it can take care of the moderate and critical cases.”

Indeed, the city saved a lot of funds because according to DPWH those facilities cost P25 million. The supposed counterpart of installing power lines may cost not even a million yet it’s something that the city government failed to procure in time for the turnover.

Did the mayor forget that the memorandum of agreement he signed then states that the City will be in charge of the water, electricity and maintenance of the facility?

Councilor Renecito Novero who chairs the Quarantine Center Action team admitted that they are just processing documents now to have their own power installed but said that there is no need yet to use the place and if ever, they can always tap power at the nearby City Agriculture Office.

No need yet? To say that it is not yet needed is an understatement as I personally know a COVID-19 positive patient who was not immediately provided hospitalization because there were no available beds. That friend needed critical care.

Another friend recently had a stroke and it took more than 48 hours to get a vacancy in the hospital.

When do these officials foresee the need? From the information I gathered, it will take about three months to have power lines installed. Novero made mention of the process of procurement, which we all know takes some time unless the powers that be will decide otherwise. If there’s a will, there’s a way is quite elementary, right?

Let’s look back to when this all started. It was announced in July that the DPWH will construct it with a two-month timeline. Mid-August, construction started and two months and a half later, the facility was turned over in the presence of Secretary Vince Dizon.

Dizon said the construction of healthcare facilities is part of the government’s readiness for COVID, but at the same time, he hopes the situation will improve in the coming months. What readiness was he talking about? Yes, the facility is open but without power, it is not at all ready to accept patients.

Perhaps Dizon was alluding to a better situation in the coming months because a vaccine may now be made available. But the facility? If the three months of processing is correct, it will never get to serve its beneficiaries.

This is a slap, not only to our COVID-19 patients, but to the taxpayers who funded this project which is now useless because the city government apparently did nothing in the four months between the signing of the MOA and the turnover.

For Novero to say they can “tap” power further sent a wrong message to the public who are warned that tapping is illegal. Say mo Ceneco?

Remember, each of the 32 rooms has its own air conditioning unit plus the nurses’ stations and medical staff quarters. Can that be supported by tapped power?

In another story, DPWH allocated P4 million to “repurpose” the evacuation center in Brgy. Vista Alegre, into a 45-cubicle isolation facility, again for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients.

In a statement, Mayor Bing said he agreed to the repurposing and the city government will facilitate the provisions for water and power supply to the evacuation center.

Geez! Really? When? After the turnover again?

We have a right to be indignant in this seeming ineptitude from our city officials. Somebody has to tell them that along with a good photo and press release, the purpose of the project must be felt and used by the people.

What is even more ironic is the mayor has again written to DPWH Sec. Mark Villar if they can add another 32-bed isolation facility in the same location at Alijis as there is still enough space available.

Why ask for more when you cannot even operate the existing one already given? Duh!*

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