Juridical personality for VMMC proposed

MANILA, (PNA) — Lawmakers have proposed the grant of juridical personality or charter to the historic Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) to preserve its viability and existence.

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo filed House Bill 307 or The Veterans Memorial Medical Center Charter Center of 2013 to protect VMMC, a landmark institution and monument to the bravery and nationalism of Filipino soldiers.

“The VMMC is both a historical monument which reflects the vibrancy of Philippine heritage and culture and a patrimony of our nation that should be conserved and protected,” the Arroyos said.

“This measure will vest the VMMC with the power to own real and personal properties, and shall have a governing body that will direct the accomplishment of its mission as defined and delineated by the proposed charter,” the Arroyos added.

According to the younger Arroyo, the VMMC, which was officially inaugurated on November 20, 1955 by President Ramon Magsaysay, is mandated to serve Filipino veterans and their dependents, but it may not be able to carry out this service to the fullest because of the severe financial limitations.

“The VMMC budget is a measly 1% of the Department of National Defense’s annual budget. It has no other source of income to support the free care and treatment of the veterans, the retirees and their dependents, except the very limited number of paying patients admitted on the availability of bed space,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo said the VMMC is unlike the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center, Philippine General Hospital and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, which enjoy autonomous and corporate identities having their own charters. Also, these centers charge fees for their use and services although they are government medical institutions.

“The VMMC, a tertiary hospital that has served the country for 53 years, does not have its own charter. This measure seeks to provide the hospital with a juridical or corporate personality to preserve its viability and existence,” Arroyo said.

The hospital was constructed by virtue of Public Law 965 signed by then President Harry S. Truman which appropriated funds for the construction of a veterans hospital in the Philippines.

As Philippine counterpart to the appropriation of US Congress, President Elpidio Quirino issued Proclamation 169, reserving a parcel of land with an area of 54.9 hectares located in the District of Diliman, Quezon City, for the now VMMC, the former president said.

“The VMMC has emerged as one of the leading state hospitals in the country, equipped with excellent facilities and competent staffing. During the administration of the undersigned, President George W. Bush initiated a program of providing $USD 500,000.00 annually for the hospital,” she said.

Various medical universities and colleges became affiliates of the Veterans Hospital. However, Arroyo explained that the hospital’s capacity to provide continuing quality service and develop itself into a medical institution of prestige and excellence is greatly challenged.

“With the enactment of R.A. 6948, which standardized and upgraded the benefits for military veterans and their dependents, the medical center’s patient clientele has expanded to include retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their dependents,” Arroyo said.