By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has signed a law mandating the operational and physical expansion of the state-run Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) in this war-ravaged city.
The President signed Republic Act 111031 last October 30, and stakeholders and officials have lauded the enactment of the measure, citing the essence of the APMC, being the lone medical center in Muslim Mindanao.
“We are thankful to the President and our lawmakers,” said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman.
The enabling bill was initiated in the lower Congress by Lanao del Sur (1st District) Rep. Ansaruddin “Hooky” Adiong, who once served as elected member the ARMM legislative assembly, regional vice governor and acting governor.
R.A. 111031 provides for the increase in bed capacity of APMC from the current 200 to 400; the hiring of additional medical manpower; and construction of corresponding physical structures.
It states that enabling efforts “shall be implemented incrementally for a period of not more than two years from (its) approval.”
The APMC was established in 1903 by the United States Army’s Second Infantry Cavalry Division as a 25-bed capacity hospital on the 20-hectare area here known then as Camp Keithly. It evolved into Lanao General Hospital in 1984 with increased number of patients’ beds. It was later renamed after Amai Pakpak, a legendary Maranao warrior who led the armed resistance movements against foreign colonizers.
The health facility was transformed into 200-bed capacity Amai Pakpak Medical Center in 1995 under R.A. 7943, a law authored in the lower Congress by the late Congressman Mamintal Adiong Sr. On Oct. 16, 2013, large parts of the AMPC were gutted down by a fire of still unknown origin. The hospital resumed operations years later.
The APMC operations were interrupted anew during the May 23, 2017 bloody siege here of combined militants of Daesh-inspired Abu Sayyaf and Dawla Islamiya (Maute) groups.
Government forces wounded in the initial firefight were brought to the APMC for treatment, prompting the enemies to attack and control the hospital operations for several days. Some hospital workers were held hostage in the initial days of the ensuing six-month fighting.
Under the new law, the Department of Health will be mandated to oversee and supervise the improvements that will be made at APMC.