THIRTEEN bills aimed at improving, developing, and establishing public hospitals in different parts of the country have passed second reading in the Senate on May 25 and 26. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, sponsored these bills recognizing the urgent need to upgrade health facilities throughout the country. This need has been highlighted by the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“Pinaghirapan nating maipasa ito para sa kapakanan ng mahihirap nating mga kababayan,” Go said.
These measures include bills increasing the bed capacity of Lying-in Clinic in Rizal Palawan; Naguilian District Hospital in Naguilian, La Union; Rosario District Hospital in Rosario, La Union; Sinait District Hospital in Sinait, Ilocos Sur; East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City; and the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center in Misamis Occidental.
Other bills that passed second reading include measures establishing the Bacolod City General Hospital in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; Eastern Pangasinan Regional Medical and Trauma Center in Rosales, Pangasinan; Davao Occidental General Hospital in Malita, Davao Occidental; and the Neptali Gonzales Hospital in Mandaluyong City.
Bills converting the Medina Extension Hospital in Medina, Misamis Oriental into a general hospital; and the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital into the Governor Benjamin T. Romualdez General Hospital also passed second reading.
Another bill increasing the bed capacity of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City also hurdled the second reading in the Senate plenary.
In a sponsorship speech for the measures on May 17, Go said that the COVID-19 pandemic has made government more cognizant of the need to capacitate and improve our public health facilities.
“Lalo na po sa mga probinsya na talagang kulang na kulang ang mga health facilities. Sa pag-iikot ko po sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa, nakita ko po mismo ang kakulangan natin sa hospital beds at equipment. Minsan po ang mga pasyente sa hospital corridor na nakaratay. Kawawa po ang ating mga kababayan,” Go said.
He also noted that the need to increase hospital bed capacity of most public hospitals has been a challenge during the public health crisis, prompting authorities to establish modular hospitals.
“Ngayong pandemya, problema natin ang kakulangan natin sa hospital beds, particularly ICU beds. Kinakailangan po nating mag-impose ng mas mahigpit na community quarantine restrictions para makahinga ang ating health system,” he said.
“Kinailangan rin po natin magtayo ng temporary facilities and modular hospitals for COVID-19 cases. Ayaw na po natin maulit na darating tayo sa punto na wala nang kama na available para sa may sakit. Dapat po ay laging handa ang ating mga pampublikong ospital na magserbisyo sa mga pasyente,” he added.
It is for these reasons that Go stressed that improving health capacity and delivery in the provinces would help enhance the health and overall well-being of all Filipinos. He emphasized that Filipino families must be able to enjoy easy access to responsive health care systems even in the provinces and rural areas.
As for the proposal to get the funds needed to implement the measures from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and the Pension and Gratuity Fund, Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte might not agree with the suggestion.
“Hinggil sa iminumungkahing kukunin ang pondo mula sa pension and benefit funds, hindi naman papayag ang Pangulong Duterte na mabawasan ang pondo na para naman sa ibang mga Pilipinong nangangailangan nito,” said Go.
“Ang PGF ay para sa retirement benefits ng ating mga government employees. Ang MPBF para po ‘yan sa sweldo for additional positions that will be created to better respond to the pandemic such as additional healthcare workers and plantilla positions for hospitals,” he added.
Go said that funds from the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of DOH may be used instead for the upgrading and establishment of the hospitals.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Go said that he has been dutifully performing his responsibilities as senator, stressing that time is of the essence especially during the present public health emergency.
“Para sa akin, walang tulog ang pagseserbisyo. Nagtatrabaho ako 24/7, kahit anong oras at araw pa yan. Ayaw kong pinapatagal pa ang dapat gawin lalo na’t marami sa mga kababayan natin ang naghihirap ngayon,” said Go.
“Basta tama at sang-ayon sa polisiya ang ating ginagawa, ayaw kong may papatay-patay sa trabaho dahil sa bawat oras na sinasayang natin, buhay ang nakasalalay dito. Kaya mabilis palagi ang aking aksyon pagdating sa kung ano ang makakabuti sa bawat Pilipino,” he added.