ZAMBOANGA CITY – No one is interested in buying the presidential yacht since it is way too old and lacks power, according to President Duterte.
Faced with this dilemma, the President is mulling on an alternative plan – converting the 57-year-old BRP Pangulo, previously known as BRP Pag-asa, into a hospital to be deployed in conflict-torn areas in the country.
Duterte initially planned to sell the yacht and use the proceeds to upgrade the country’s hospital facilities and improve the welfare of war veterans.
“Sana nga noon, ipagbili ko ‘yung Pag-asa to rebuild ‘yung V. Luna pero sabi nila, nobody’s – no takers ‘yan kasi luma na, mahina. I will either convert it into a hospital, tingnan ko lang kung how much I would spend,” Duterte told government troops at the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command headquarters here Thursday night.
“Gagawin ko ‘yang hospital, ilalagay ko sa… well, wherever the fighting is, sirain ko lang yung loob, lagyan ko lang ng mga operating rooms, para iyan ang gawin ko. Walang silbi yan barko na ‘yan eh so pakinabangan na lang natin,” he added.
The 77.33-meter long, 2,200-ton ship was given to the administration of Carlos P. Garcia in 1959 as part of the war reparations by Japan. It went through many name changes and has been used for various purposes, including relief, emergency transport, and other support for the Philippine Navy.
Duterte, however, has not yet ruled out the sale of the presidential yacht. He shared anew his plans to improve the facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center, also known as V. Luna General Hospital in Quezon City.
“If somebody’s willing to sell it, pag ang kita niyan, maaasahan ninyo, diretso, I will rebuild the V. Luna. I will complete it,” he said. “I will add another building, maybe, a new one, and you will have the operative best medical treatment. It will have everything,” he added. (GENALYN D. KABILING)