Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday the department would support the construction of temporary hospitals and other medical facilities on tourism sites, which is necessary to fight the COVID-19 crisis.
Puyat made the statement during Tuesday’s groundbreaking of Manila’s Mega Field Hospital, a temporary facility which will be built at the Burnham Green of Rizal Park.
“The DOT is gratified and honored to be able to use its parks and public spaces in support of the national pandemic response,” said the tourism chief.
Joining Puyat were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, chairman of the National Task Force Against COVID-19; IATF chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.; IATF deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon; Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia; National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) Executive Director Cecille Lorenzana-Romero; Health Assistant Secretary Romeo Ong, and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagaso.
Puyat thanked Domagoso for granting the DOT’s request to make the facilities available to all Filipinos and not just Manileños. She said Domagoso’s proposal to build a temporary hospital in Rizal Park was unanimously approved by the board of the NPDC, an attached agency of the DOT. The temporary hospital can accommodate at least 500 patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
The NPDC Board, chaired by the Tourism Secretary, also approved the proposal to use Quirino Grandstand as the site of a temporary drive-thru vaccination center. Described by Puyat as a “game-changer,” the temporary facility can accommodate 350 to 450 persons per day.
“The City of Manila and the NPDC have taken the first step and we hope to see this replicated by other local government units in other parts of the country,” added Puyat.
The Burnham Green is named after renowned American architect Daniel Burnham, the urban planner who designed Baguio as the country’s summer capital and the city of Chicago. It is the large open space in front of the Quirino Grandstand and is popular among park-goers as a venue for different events like picnics and sports activities. It is the site of the Narra tree planted by Pope Paul VI in 1970 and the bronze statue of San Lorenzo Luis given by Pope John Paul II in 1981.