This is a timeline of the real and actual narration of events as regards the establishment of the SGH/UVCH, which is currently being utilized as the South Cotabato COVID-19 Hospital/Facility. This timeline is based on the laws, resolutions, ordinances, implementing rules and regulations, memoranda, administrative orders, and other legal and public documents executed for this purpose.
The truth and the real story surrounding the establishment and operation of the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) revolves around the person of then Governor Arthur “Dodo” Y. Pingoy, Jr. It was through his untiring and unselfish efforts to provide the people of South Cotabato quality health services that even in just three (3) years, he was able to construct and establish the UVCH with almost all the funds secured from outside sources.
As a medical doctor by profession and being the Chairman of the Committee on Health of the 14th Congress of the Philippines before his stint as the 5th elected Provincial Governor of the Province of South Cotabato, former Governor Pingoy was able to secure the assistance, support and commitment of the Department of Health (DOH) through the provision of the P28 Million additional funds for the construction of the UVCH. This was on top of the commitment of the P25 Million from the San Miguel Corporation through the Daguma Mineral Resources, Inc. (DAMI).
Thereafter, the construction of the UVCH in Barangay Dajay, Surallah, South Cotabato had ensued. The DOH began its P28 Million construction while the San Miguel Corporation also started its P25 Million building.
Before the end of the term of then Governor Pingoy, the UVCH was successfully established with the benevolent support of the San Miguel Corporation and the DOH. Then, on June 13, 2013, former Governor Pingoy was able to turn over to the next administration of then Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, the 60-Bed Upper Valley Community Hospital.
However, for reasons only known to her, former Governor Avance-Fuentes never utilized and operated the UVCH from June 2013 to January 2017. For three (3) years and seven (7) months, UVCH remained a haunted hospital. This, despite the fact that even the alleys of the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH) were utilized as hospital wards as the same were flooded with patients from all over the province including those from the neighboring provinces like Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
Moreover, the very clear plan of then Governor Pingoy was to decongest the SCPH of patients from the upper valley areas and to improve the health services by expanding and improving their infrastructure and equipment components. Also, to maximize the utilization of its human resources, and being underutilized for many years, the plan was that the personnel of the Lake Sebu Municipal Hospital shall be moved and transferred to the UVCH and the hospital facility shall be converted into a provincial drug rehabilitation center.
Then, after three years and seven months, former Governor Avance-Fuentes in January 2017, decided to operate the UVCH but only as an infirmary… just like a school clinic. Some months thereafter, she began the UVCH operation as a 10-bed hospital only.
Consequently, one day, former Governor Fuentes and Congressman Ferdinand L. Hernandez concocted an idea to turn the “white elephant” project of Governor Pingoy into their notable and commendable project… A REGIONAL HOSPITAL IN SOCCSKSARGEN. Thus, Republic Act (RA) No. 11102, a two-page, five-section law, was enacted on October 26, 2018, the law establishing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital (SGH) in Surallah, South Cotabato. Then, the rest is history.
Below is the detailed timeline of events:
October 17, 2011
Resolution No. 290 or “A Resolution Approving the Governor’s Proposal for the Establishment o0f a Level II Service-Capable Hospital to be known as the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) in Surallah, South Cotabato” is approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of South Cotabato.
The purpose of the establishment of the UVCH, according to the indorsement of the then governor, Arthur “Dodo” Y. Pingoy, Jr., MD, is to decongest the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital (SCPH) of in-patients, thereby improving the health and welfare of the constituents in the catchment areas of the Upper Valley, especially its marginal communities.
Also mentioned in the resolution is the proposed five-hectare lot, which will be donated by the Surallah Municipal Government, that will provide enough space even for future improvements.
December 27, 2011
Resolution No. 366 or “A Resolution Authorizing the Provincial Governor, the Hon. Arthur “Dodo” Y. Pingoy, Jr., M.D, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Daguma Agro-Minerals, Inc., (DAMI) Relative to the Latter’s Financial Assistance to the Province of South Cotabato in the amount of Twenty Five Million Pesos (P25,000,000.00) for the Construction of the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) in the Municipality of Surallah, South Cotabato” is approved by the SP of South Cotabato.
The resolution provides that DAMI is a private corporation that has expressed interest to invest in and to develop the potentials of the province, and that due to the limited resources of the provincial government, the provision of the amount of P25,000,000.00 would put into reality the construction of the UVCH.
By entering into a MOA with the DAMI, the province will be able to provide better health services to its constituents.
August 7, 2012
A Deed of Donation is made and executed by and between the Municipality of Surallah, as represented by its Municipal Mayor, Romulo O. Solivio, referred to as the donor, and the Province of South Cotabato, as represented by its Provincial Governor, Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr. referred to as the donee, pertaining to the two (2) parcels of land, both situated at Barangay Dajay, Municipality of Surallah, South Cotabato.
The first parcel of land consists of 47, 988 square meters, more or less, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T- 109827, while the second parcel of land consists of 4,008 square meters, more or less, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-109828.
The contract provides that as an act of liberality and generosity, the donor hereby cedes, transfers, and conveys unto the donee, his heirs and assigns, the above-described real property with all the buildings and improvements thereon, to become effective upon the immediate execution of the contract.
Prior to this, the Municipal Mayor of Surallah, Romulo O. Solivio, was authorized by Resolution No. 298, Series of 2011 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Surallah to sign for and in behalf of the Municipality of Surallah for the purpose of executing the said contract. In the same way, on April 11, 2012, the Provincial Governor of South Cotabato, Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr, was also authorized by Resolution No. 117, Series of 2012, of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of South Cotabato to sign for and in behalf of the Province of South Cotabato for the purpose of executing the said contract.
October 26, 2018
Republic Act No. 11102 or “An Act Establishing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital in the Municipality of Surallah, Province of South Cotabato, and Appropriating Funds Therefor” is signed and approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
This Act was passed by the Senate of the Philippines as Senate Bill No. 1586 on July 24, 2018 and adopted by the House of Representatives as an amendment to House Bill No. 5881 on September 10, 2018.
Sections one and two of this law provide that there shall be established a general hospital in the Municipality of Surallah, Province of South Cotabato, to be known as the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital, and that the Department of Health (DOH), in consultation and coordination with local government officials concerned, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for its effective implementation.
Section three further states that the provincial government of South Cotabato shall provide funding for the establishment of the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital which must be situated at the Municipality of Surallah, South Cotabato.
June 24, 2019
Resolution No. 163 or “A Resolution Enacting Ordinance No. 14, Series of 2019, Authorizing the Provincial Governor, the Honorable Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Health – Central Office relative to the Reintegration of the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) as the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital with the Department of Health (DOH) in the Period of Three (3) Years is approved by the SP of South Cotabato.
Stated in the resolution is the approval of RA No. 11102 or “An Act Establishing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital in the Municipality of Surallah, Province of South Cotabato, and Appropriating Funds Therefor” and the renaming of the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) to SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital (SGH) to properly reflect the hospital’s true and correct name to avoid confusion and to be consistent with Secrion 1 of the RA No. 11102, Series of 2018.
Also mentioned in the resolution is Section 3 of the said Act, which states that the Provincial Government of South Cotabato (PGSC) shall provide funding for the establishment of the SGH. It also says that in the MOA, the transition period for the re-integration of the SGH with the DOH is for a period of three (3) years.
“WHEREAS, among others, the following are the respective responsibilities of the contracting parties:
- the PGSC, shall continue to administer and supervise the SGH until its turn-over and re-integration with DOH and continue providing the financial requirement for Personal Services (PS) and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of SGH until such time that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released to DOH the necessary funds for this purpose;
- the DOH CHD Regional Office XII shall endeavor to provide the necessary funding for PS, MOOE, and necessary Capital Outlay (CO) for SGH under the DOH Budget in the year 2020, or 2021, subject to availability of funds and/or its inclusion in the General Appropriation Act. xxx”
June 25, 2019
A Memorandum with the subject requesting for the clearance of the attached Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Province of South Cotabato is issued by Dr. Ma. Theresa G. Vera, Director IV of the DOH Health Facility Development Bureau to Atty. Charade B. Mercado-Grande, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Chief of Staff and Health Regulation Team.
The MOA shall adhere to the provision of R.A No. 11102 or “An Act Establishing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital in the Municipality of Surallah, Province of South Cotabato, and Appropriating Funds Therefor,” wherein the hospital property presently owned and managed by the Province of South Cotabato shall be transferred, operated, and managed by the Department of Health.
This is in relation to the request of the Province of South Cotabato addressed to the Office of the Secretary, expressing that the MOA should be signed in the soonest possible time as the incumbent Governor ends her term on June 30, 2019.
The MOA attached is made and entered into by and between the First Party, the Department of Health – Central Office, represented by its Secretary of Health, Fransisco T. Duque III, MD, MSc, referred to as the “DOH CHD Regional Office XII,” and the Second Party, the Provincial Government of South Cotabato, represented by the Honorable Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes, in her capacity as Provincial Governor, referred to as “LGU.”
The MOA states the following:
“A. GENERAL PROVISIONS:
- The scope of this Agreement shall govern the transition period for the re-integration of the UVCH as SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital with DOH which shall have a period of three (3) years.
- All function, services, and programs performed and provided by the SGH shall continue to be carried out and discharged by UVCH even during the implementation of this Agreement.
- The LGU shall continue providing the financial requirements for personal services (PS) and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of SGH until such time that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released to DOH the necessary funds for this purpose.
- Should the LGU expended amounts for PS and MOOE which subsequently were funded by DBM, upon its release therefore and its receipt by SGH, the latter shall immediately reimburse the LGU with such corresponding amount. xxx”
The responsibilities of the LGU include the following:
- Continue to administer and supervise the SGH until its turn-over and re-integration with DOH.
- Ensure that the health services provided by the SGH shall continue to be carried out without interruption or with minimal disruption.
- Continue providing the financial requirements for PS and MOOE of SGH until such time that the DBM has released to DOH the necessary funds for this pupose.
- Turn-over the direct administration and supervision of SGH to DOH through DOH CHD Regional Office XII or or before January 15, 2020, subject to approval of funding requirements. Turn-over may be extended within a period mutually beneficial and practicable for all parties concerned.
- Conduct an inventory of all hospital equipment and other assets of SGH.
- Execute a Usufruct Agreement with DOH CHD Regional Office XII to lay the basis for the transfer of possession of the real estate, hospital equipment, and other essential assets of SGH in favor of DOH. The Usufruct Agreement shall become effective upon the turn-over of SGH to DOH CHD Regional Office XII. The Agreement shall have a consideration of One-Peso per year and shall have a minimum period of Fifty (50) years.
Moreover, the abovementioned agreement shall take effect immediately upon the signing of the parties and shall be effective for three (3) years, unless sooner terminated by the parties by virtue of an earlier full re-integration of SGH with DOH.
June 27, 2019
Ordinance No. 14 or “An Ordinance Authorizing then Provincial Governor, Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Health – Central Office relative to the Reintegration of the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH) as the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital with the Department of Health (DOH) in the Period of Three (3) Years is signed and approved by the then provincial governor, Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes.
On the same day, the MOA made and entered into by and between the Department of Health – Central Office, represented by its Secretary of Health, Francisco T. Duque, MD, referred to as “DOH CHD Regional Office XII” and the Provincial Government of South Cotabato, represented by the Hororable Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes, referred to as “LGU” is signed by both parties, in the presence of the authorized representatives of the DOH Regional Office XII and the Provincial Government of South Cotabato.
September 16, 2019
Administrative Order (AO) No. 2019-0037 with the subject “Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 11102 or An Act Establishing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital in the Municipality of Surallah, Province of South Cotabato, and Appropriating Funds Therefor” is issued by the Secretary of Health, Francisco T. Duque III, MD, MSc.
The General Policies include the following:
“The SGH shall strengthen its existing basic and specialty services, and aim for the improvement of its service capability and capacity while continually serving as end-referral hospital in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region, or the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City and other cities, and adjacent areas in Maguindanao province, complementing local health systems and providers in these areas… xxx”
The implementation of the Act shall be supported by the following guidelines:
- Change in Name – from “Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH)” to “SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital (SGH),” with an official address at Barangay Dajay, Surallah, South Cotabato;
- Expansion of Services – the SGH shall develop and submit its Hospital Development Plan (HDP) to the Health Facility Development Bureau (HFDB) through the SOCCSKSARGEN Center for Health Development (CHD);
- Health Human Resources – the SGH shall honor the positions, security of tenure, and other rights of its human resource complement. The Hospital shall evaluate the existing human resource complement, re-classify and/or propose upgrading of positions, promote professional development and hire additional staff to comply and conform to the Civil Service Commission and DOH standards and intent of the Act;
- Assets and Liabilities – all movable and immovable assets and records of the SGH, as well as its liabilities and obligations shall be properly documented and be accounted for in accordance with existing policies and guidelines.
- Equipment – the SGH shall make an inventory of the existing hospital equipment and undertake upgrading to conform to the DOH standards of a Level 3 General Hospital as provided for under AO No. 2012-0012. Additional equipment and facilities shall be provided to complement the expansion of services consistent with the approved HDP;
- Infrastructure – the SGH shall implement and seek the support of the DOH for the construction, repair, and/or renovation of its physical infrastructure, consistent with the approved HDP;
- Systems Development;
- Quality Management; and
- Transition Committee and Plan – a Transition Committee shall be created to develop a transition plan to implement the transfer of operations, management and assets of the former UVCH, which include, but not limited to, qualified, competent existing human resources for health, equipment, and lot. The Committee shall be composed of the DOH, Government of South Cotabato, and others included upon recommendations of the SOCCSKSARGEN CHD Director. The Committee shall be headed by the CHD Director, and shall be terminated upon completion of the tasks.
Furthermore, the same AO provides that the amounts necessary to carry out the provisions of RA No. 11102 shall be sourced out accordingly:
- Capital investments for infrastructure and equipment shall be sourced out from DOH appropriations under the General Appropriations Act (GAA), hospital income including PhilHealth payments, public-private partnership, and/or other financing modes or schemes subject to prevailing government rules and regulations;
- The additional Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) resulting from the hospital expansion shall be sourced out from the GAA, hospital income including PhilHealth payments, public-private partnerships, and/or other financing modes or schemes;
- Personal Services (PS) to carry out the full implementation of the staffing pattern following the DOH-DBM Joint Circular No. 2012-01, and other related issuances shall be sourced out from the GAA and other sources; and
- Release of funds from the DOH shall be approved by the appropriate authority.
September 20, 2019
Dr. Ma. Theresa G. Vera, Director IV of the Health Facility Development Bureau (HFDB) writes a letter to Dr. Aristides C. Tan, Director IV of the DOH Center for Health Development – SOCCSKSARGEN informing the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital that the DOH Administrative Order No. 2019-0037, or the IRR for RA No. 11102 was already approved and signed by the Secretary of Health and posted on the DOH’s Intranet on September 18, 2019.
Director Vera recommends that the said IRR be published in a newspaper of general circulation, in pursuance of Section V of the said AO.
February 19-21, 2020
The Technical Working Group for the Formulation of UVCH-SGH Transition Plan plans and formulates a Transition Plan for 2020-2022 at the Venue 88, General Santos City, funded and sponsored by the DOH.
The committee, headed by the CHD Director, is composed of the DOH, the Provincial Government of South Cotabato, and others included upon the recommendation of the SOCCSKSARGEN CHD Director.
The Transition Plan “will serve as a guide that details the framework and implementation strategies and activities that will be conducted to ensure that smooth and efficient integration of the existing UVCH into a SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital that will serve the entire population of Region XII.” It is composed of the following:
- Policies and Guidelines;
- Integration Framework Plan;
- Implementation Plan;
- Social Preparation/Communication Plan; and
- Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
The General Provisions under the Policies and Guidelines are as follows:
- This plan shall govern the transition period for UVCH-SGH integration for a period of three (3) years beginning January 1, 2020.
- The Provincial Government of South Cotabato (PGSC) shall continue to administer and supervise UVCH/SGH Operations during the transition period.
- The UVCH/SGH shall continue to uphold the Free Hospitalization Program of the PGSC during the transition period. After the transition period, the PGSC shall allocate a subsidy to SGH for the continuity of the Free Hospitalization Program, which can be availed only by bonafide residents of the Province of South Cotabato.
- The future direction of development and operation of SGH shall be consistent with and compliant to the national policy and ISO certification standards of service.
Part IV: Implementation Plan of the said Transition Plan provides that “the transition period for the integration of UVCH as SGH shall have a period of three (3) years that will commence on January 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2022. However, the final turn-over is scheduled to take place sometime in June 2022 to coincide with the three-year period since the signing of the MOA by both parties in June 2019. The activities were basically divided according to the transition plan focus areas, with additional items for the preparation of the transition plan and the formal turn-over activity. The five (5) focus areas are: a) Health Human Resource Management, b) Financial Management, c) Infrastructure and Health Facilities Development, d) Property, Equipment, Records and Supply Management, and e) Operations, Systems Development and Quality Management.”
However, before the activities outlined in the Transition Plan could be conducted and implemented, COVID-19 started to wreak havoc. Following the issuance of Proclamation No. 922 on March 8, 2020 that places the entire country under the State of Public Health Emergency, the entire province was also placed under a total lockdown. The SGH Transition Committee schedule of activities and meetings were indefinitely postponed and halted.
But let it be known however that the passage of RA 11102 does not automatically vest the Department of Health (DOH) title over the Upper Valley Community Hospital (UVCH), which is still owned and operated by the province. The land, (5-hectare lot) is titled in the name of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato. The facilities and equipment are still owned by the province. Hence, there is a need to execute a Usufruct Agreement with the DOH over the 5-hectare real property where the UVCH is established and to turn over whatever equipment the province wants to, and to administer the hospital until such time that the same is fully and completely handed to the DOH.
Moreover, the management, operation and supervision of the hospital must be sustained by the province until the same is fully turned over to the DOH because the medical staff and personnel serving the UVCH are integral component of the total human resources of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato. As agreed and stipulated in the duly signed MOA, personnel of the UVCH shall be given priority to be hired and integrated as part of the DOH personnel who shall operate and serve the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital. Hence, there is a proper protocol and process to be legally followed before the management and supervision of the UVCH is fully given to the SGH and the DOH.
Similarly, turning over the UVCH to the DOH at this precarious time of our country will not necessarily mean that the SGH is now a tertiary and end-referral hospital of SOCCSKSARGEN Region (Region XII). Again, the UVCH started its operation as an infirmary in January 2017 and as a 10-bed primary hospital a few months thereafter. Hence, there is an imperative need for the formulation, adoption and implementation of a transition plan as clearly indicated in the IRR and the MOA before the eventual full operation of the SGH. We must not give false hopes and enchanted aspirations to the people of South Cotabato and the entire Region XII. SGH cannot operate as a functional tertiary and end-referral hospital overnight. But it is not because of the perceived delay of its turn over to the DOH.
However, by reason of the COVID-19 pandemic, as early as April 2020, the Provincial Government of South Cotabato has already utilized and designated the UVCH or SGH in Surallah, South Cotabato as the COVID-19 Center for the entire province of South Cotabato. Executive Order No. 19 was issued to this effect. With the assistance and support of the South Cotabato Medical Society, PPEs, ventilators and volunteer medical personnel were provided to serve the COVID-19 patients free of charge. So contrary to the report of some media outlets, the COVID-19 Center in SGH has greatly helped the delivery of health services in the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital and its component municipal hospitals in Polomolok and Norala as these hospitals will no longer be catering COVID-19 patients, since they are now being catered and served at the COVID-19 Center in Surallah.
Moreover, the province is the first in the country to have established a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center (DAPPMC) in Koronadal City which began its testing activities in the first week of June 2020.
Furthermore, the province is also among the first in the country to have implemented a local contact tracing for Covid-19, the South Cotabato COVID-19 Contact Tracing System (SC-CCTS) which is now being adopted by the entire Region XII (SOCCSKSARGEN) and adopted by the neighboring provinces and municipalities in Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental and other LGUS in Mindanao and Visayas. In fact, the province’s SC-CCTS has been featured in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) just last September 24, 2020 as one of the great examples of cross-sector collaboration and thorough consultation and which successfully targeted and included the most vulnerable sectors of the sector of the society who do not have access to technology in the fight against COVID-19.
It must be emphasized that the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City is the official end-referral hospital of all the government hospitals in the region – from Sarangani, South Cotabato, General Santos, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato Province. Established a long time ago and equipped with the necessary facilities, equipment and medical support personnel, the CRMC must and should have been prepared and ready as a COVID-19 referral hospital to cater not only COVID-19 patients from South Cotabato but also from the entire Region XII.
As to the allegations that the P200 Million building construction at the UVCH could not be possibly pursued and the withdrawal of the P45 Million MOOE of the DOH because of the alleged delay to turn over the UVCH to the DOH, the same are pure lies. While there was suspension of work during the months of March, April and May because of the pandemic, the construction of the said P200 Million hospital is now ongoing at the UVCH (SGH). The DOH has also provided funds for the medicines and medical supplies as well as ten (10) job order (JO) health personnel to support the operation of the UVCH despite the pendency of the turn-over.
As already outlined in the Transition Plan, there should have been a hiring of 144 plantilla positions for the SGH this year. However because of COVID-19, the posting of the positions and the screening of interested applicants have been stalled. In fact, the Transition Team has yet to meet again to discuss the implementation of the activities identified in the Transition Plan.
Truth be told, in the fight against COVID-19, Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr never thinks of politics in every program and project that he is actively pursuing and implementing. The only thing that he thinks of is the protection and welfare of every South Cotabateño.
But we do not know of the other political leaders in the province these days. One thing is clearly shown though, there are politicians who strongly opposed when the UVCH (SGH) was declared and designated as COVID-19 Center for the province. The same politicians also vigorously opposed the development and use of South Cotabato COVID-9 Contact Tracing System (SC-CCTS) which is now being adopted by the region and several LGUs in Mindanao and the Visayas. They also vehemently resisted the establishment of COVID-19 testing laboratory in DAPPMC through Public-Private Partnership. All the 3Ts (Test Treat and Trace) being actively implemented by the DOH and the National IATF-EID, the Governor has also faithfully implemented. But these politicians have orchestrated all the schemes that they can imagine to frustrate the programs and activities which are designed to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
I fervently hope and pray that my modest explanation and discussion of these pressing and evolving issues of the SGH have enlightened you.