(PNA file photo by Robert Alfiler)

SORSOGON CITY – A PHP94.5-million medical oxygen plant will soon rise here to boost the supply in the province and the rest of Bicol, Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Wednesday.

He said the facility would greatly contribute to improving the healthcare system of Sorsogon and boost its fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Escudero said the construction of the plant, the first state-owned oxygen plant in the region, would soon start after the approval of a loan by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in the province.

“I thank the Landbank for the expeditious approval of our loans. Finally, we can now start the construction of our oxygen plant, the first government-owned facility of such in the country,” he said in a statement.

“Malaking bagay ito para mapangalagaan ang kasulugan at mailigtas sa kamatayan ang ating mga kababayan (This will greatly help in taking care of the people's health and save our province mates from death),” he added.

The oxygen plant is targeted for completion in early 2022 as part of the local government’s response to the worsening Covid-19 problem and the rising demand for medical oxygen.

In a statement, LBP president and chief executive officer Cecilia Borromeo said, “Landbank remains committed to serving the nation at the frontlines of our battle against the pandemic. Alongside our LGU (local government unit) partners, we stand ready to service growth and recovery requirements, which include boosting local healthcare services and providing support to medical front-liners and their constituents."

Once the plant becomes operational, oxygen tank refilling will be cheaper at PHP157 each from the current PHP490, the statement added.

To date, Sorsogon relies on just one supplier of oxygen from Camarines Sur. (PNA)