‘ALL IS WELL’: Iloilo City lawmaker clears air on city hospital row

Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda on Monday evening clarified that House Bill No. 10464 which seeks to establish the Iloilo City Hospital is well on its way for approval by the House of Representatives next Monday, Dec 13, 2021.

This, after Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas earlier ranted at how AAMBIS-OWA Partylist Rep. Sharon Garin purportedly blocked the bill’s supposed third reading in the House plenary.

Garin told media that while she supported the construction of a hospital in the city to help with medical and healthcare needs of its residents, she opposed the use of the word “Uswag” in the hospital’s name.

The bill’s original text, as approved on first reading, indicated that the planned hospital was to be named Uswag Iloilo City Hospital.

Garin had said that Uswag could be identified with the local Uswag Ilonggo party which Treñas founded. The party is fielding a partylist and City Hall candidates in the 2022 elections.

Baronda told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo that she met with Garin at the office of House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco to eke out the issues hounding the bill’s passage.

“We had a closed-door meeting at the office of the Speaker and address whatever was lacking in passing [HB No. 10464]. We are looking forward that it would be up for nominal voting on the House floor. It’s been calendared for business, so hopefully we can tackle it any time,” Baronda said.

She also explained that Garin and other partylist representatives merely raised their concerns to remove the word “Uswag”, which she acceded to.

“To be fair to the other partylists, who have also suggested to us, we took down ‘Uswag’ and instead named it Iloilo City Hospital. We put ‘Uswag’ in good faith because it meant progressive,” she explained.

As to the row between Treñas and Garin, she did not explain as much but only said that both sides have already communicated Tuesday afternoon.

She added that Garin assured her support to the bill, which no longer contains the word “Uswag”.

“[Treñas] was expecting that it would be voted upon [on Tuesday] but unfortunately, there were things revealed, but what we just want to say is that all is well, both camps have spoken, and we have let the mayor understand. We hope that by Monday [December 13], we could pass [the bill] on third reading,” she shared.

The approved 2022 budget of the Iloilo City includes a P17.4-million appropriation for the construction of a craneway to the city hospital’s proposed location in Brgy. San Pedro in Molo district.

The Senate’s version of HB No. 10464, Senate Bill No. 2457, was also filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri last Dec. 1.

Zubiri also sponsored the Senate bill of the Bacolod City General Hospital bill which Congress already passed, and later signed into law in June 2021 by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.