Duterte said he will turn the 'Presidential yacht' into floating Hospital
Faced with complications in his plan to sell the presidential yacht, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte announced Sunday that he will just turn the historic asset into a floating hospital.
Duterte earlier said he will be selling the BRP Ang Pangulo and use the proceeds to compensate war veterans, improve hospital facilities, and raise salaries for doctors so they would not have seek higher-paying jobs abroad.
However, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Duterte's plan has to follow procedures for the disposal of government and military assets.
An evaluation committee would also be created to determine if such a sale is necessary, Padilla added.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Duterte said he acknowledges that his plan needs to undergo the procedure prescribed by law.
"Sabi ni Padilla, hindi raw maipagbili iyung 'Pangulo' kasi may proseso pa raw daanan. Natural, ano 'yan, maruya na sabihin mong 'pabili nga,'" he quipped.
But since the process may take until 2015, Duterte said he will just order the BRP Ang Pangulo to be used as a floating hospital for conflict-torn areas.
"Gagawin ko na lang 'yang hospital so kung saan 'yung conflict areas, whether it is a war or whatever, i-parking ko 'yan doon," he said.
The incoming President said the yacht has some 20 cabins that can be refurbished with medical equipment for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other procedures.
According to the Palace website, after President Corazon Aquino took over in 1986, she put up the BRP Ang Pangulo "for sale for US$5.5 million, but it was not sold." She had "tried to do away with all the lavishness and extravagance" of the Marcos administration, noting that it was "costing the government P400,000 a month simply to maintain" the presidential yacht.
When President Estrada assumed office in 1998, the BRP Ang Pangulo was "extensively furnished." Malacanang said, "The ship served as a venue for presidential events and as a mobile office for the president," such as during Estrada's trips to Mindanao.
In 2006, the BRP Ang Pangulo caught fire while it was undergoing repairs. After refurbishing and repair, President Arroyo renamed the yacht BRP Pag-Asa.
President Benigno Aquino III restored the name of presidential yacht to BRP Ang Pangulo. He also ordered that the ship "augment the capabilities of the Philippine Navy."
Source: ABS-CBN news