The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has approved a resolution requesting the Department of Health (DOH) to take over two district hospitals currently being operated by the provincial government, in line with the pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to declare five island destinations as key areas for multi-specialty hospitals.

The five areas included are Coron and El Nido in the province of Palawan, and Siargao, Panglao, and Boracay.

During the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Tuesday, Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez raised a concern, stating that Coron and El Nido already have existing hospitals, making it impractical to establish another one operated by the government.

He noted that the two towns are among the areas targeted for improvement by the DOH and the Department of Tourism (DOT) as tourism destinations.

“Establishing new hospitals will take time, and it would be better if they instead take over the existing hospitals in the two municipalities and infuse additional funds for their improvement,” Alvarez said in his privilege speech.

“So what we are proposing is to nationalize these two hospitals and turn the management over to the DOH to fast-track the improvements and upgrades and whatever is needed. As we all know, the provincial government is operating 16 hospitals and our budget is being stretched,” he added.

Board Member Ryan Maminta, meanwhile, said that aside from proposing the nationalization of the two hospitals, he is also exploring the possibility of having DOH presence in the southern part of the province.

“There should also be a DOH presence in southern Palawan as part of their operation in some hospitals to be offered by the provincial government,” Maminta said.

Board Member Marivic Roxas, on the other hand, mentioned that while the proposal requires careful study, it will certainly ease the burden on the provincial government.

“I would also suggest that we include the San Vicente hospital because it is also a tourism destination, and it is our dream for these three hospitals to become tourism hospitals,” Roxas said.

“Perhaps it’s about time for us to seek assistance from DOH and DOT for the improvement of these hospitals,” she added.