Senator Franklin Drilon on Tuesday supported proposals to include state-owned regional hospitals and school building projects under the flagship government program private-public partnership (PPP), a move that will improve the condition of hospitals and health services and accommodate more public school students in the Philippines.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, noted that included in next year’s budget is a P3-billion allocation for the Department of Health, which will be used as the government’s share in the rehabilitation of regional hospitals in the country, in partnership with the private sector.

“The regional hospitals are really in a very sorry state, if I may call it. They really need a lot of funding and many are in a state of disrepair,” Drilon said.

“What the PPP program will do is to enter into partnerships with the private sector, rehabilitate these hospitals and enter into operation and maintenance agreements with the private sector. In other words, you allow the private sector to rehabilitate a portion of the hospital and then allow them to operate it and collect fees,” he added.

However, he said that in no way the indigents’ needs be diminished and that services for the poor patients should continue.

As for the school building program, Drilon said the government should tap the private sector in order to augment the classroom shortage of about 30,000 classrooms nationwide, based on two shifts per day.

During Tuesday’s briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee on the proposed P1.816 trillion outlay for 2012, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said that an estimated P10.3 billion in school building fund is available, which Drilon said could be used as a guarantee fund to the private sector.

“This can form as some sort of a guarantee fund which can jumpstart the construction of thousands of school buildings, with the contractors being assured of the payment as it will be deposited in government financial institutions. The private contractors will be paid for advancing money in the school building program. That is why there is so much delay in the implementation of the school building program because the contractors are reluctant to enter into contracts with the government because of the additional costs incurred by the delays in the payment. With this fund that will be deposited in GFIs which will be the source of the payment to the private contractors, there is an assurance of payment and availability of fund,” said Drilon.

For this year, at least 10 projects have been identified under the PPP program.