Senate bets want more public hospitals to address health woes among poor

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidates slammed on Sunday, March 3, the privatization of hospitals and said more public hospitals need to be established to address the health problems of Filipinos, especially the poor.

Eight candidates who joined ABS-CBN's fourth "Harapan 2019" forum on Sunday were asked by a teary-eyed father who lost a child to heart complications how the senatorial bets could help with medical costs.

Labor leader Leody de Guzman of Labor Win said there must be an overhaul of the privatization mechanisms of what are supposed to be public services like health care.

"Ginawang negosyo, dati dapat ay serbisyo, ito ay ginawang patakarang pabor lamang sa mga negosyante. Dapat baliktarin ang mga patakarang ‘yan, dapat akuin ng gobyerno ang kalusugan ng ating mga mamamayan," De Guzman said.

(They made it into a business when it's supposed to be public service, they made it into a system that favors only the businessmen. We need to overhaul the system, and the government should take responsibility for our health.) 

RJ Javellana of Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino agreed and said, "Kinakailangan magkaroon ng pagsasapubliko ng mga ospital para sa lahat ng mga Pilipino bukas ang pintuan ng mga ito." (We need more public hospitals so the doors are always open to all Filipinos.)

Javellana said that if he wins, he would pass a law that would impose a 10-year ban on payment of debts, in order to divert the money to health care.

"Kung totoong tumutulong sa atin ang mga dayuhan at mga bangkong oligarko, papayag sila diyan (If foreigners and oligarch banks are sincere in helping, they would agree)," he said.

Universal health care law

Labor candidate Ernesto Arellano said discretionary funds of lawmakers should be slashed to expand the coverage of the universal health care law.

"I-enlarge ang coverage ng universal health care para sa mga mamamayan na katulad ng kapatid na nasa ating harapan (Let us enlarge the coverage of universal health care for our fellowmen such as the one before us today)," said Arellano.

Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate health committee that sponsored the newly-passed universal health care law, said that "hindi na po ako mangangako, dahil nagawa na natin ang universal health care law (I don't need to promise, we've already passed the universal health care law)." (READ: Who should be credited for the passage of the universal health care law?)

"Layunin natin mapababa ang out-of-pocket expense sa pang-araw-araw sa pamamagitan ng mas maganda at strategic na pagbigay ng assistance sa mamamayan. Ang checkups at basic lab test libre na rin, covered na ng PhilHealth," said Ejercito.

(We aim to decrease the daily out-of-pocket expense through a better and strategic way of assisting people. Checkups and basic lab tests are now free as they are covered by PhilHealth.)

Last February, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11223 or the universal health care law, which grants health coverage for all Filipinos.

This is how the other candidates answered:

Toti Casiño

"Meron tayong tinatawag na early childhood development program, 'yan po 'yung pagbibigay ng tamang sustansya at nutrisyon sa mga bata habang sila’y nasa sinapupunan pa lang ng ina. Dapat patibayin natin 'yan at magkaroon ng masaganang programa."

(We have what is called the early childhood development program, it would provide sustenance and nutrition to babies even when they're still inside the womb of their mother. We need to strengthen that so we could have a good program.)

Elmer Francisco

"Hindi po puwede na puro reaksyon, dapat po ay proactive. Ayusin po natin ang polusyon, kaya po tayo gumagawa ng mga electric jeepney na pampalit ng mga mauusok para maiwasan natin ang iba't-ibang sakit na nakukuha ng ating mga kababayan."

(We shouldn't just be reactionary, we need to be proactive. Let's address pollution, that's why we're making electric jeepneys to replace the smoke-belching ones so we could avoid certain illnesses.) 

Dado Padilla

"Siguro po ay wala pa lang implementing rules and regulations (ang universal health care law) pero ito ang sagot sa problema ng mga mamamayan, ito po ang sagot sa mga mahirap."

(The universal health care law has no implementing rules and regulations yet, but this is the answer to the problems of our countrymen, especially the poor.) 

Dan Roleda

"Gagawin kong batas na ang mga barangay health worker ay lalabas ng health center at magbahay-bahay araw-araw, binibisita ang bawat pamilya, tinitingnan ang kanilang kalusugan, may dalang timbangan, may dalang gamot, may dalang injeksyon, may dalang kung ano-anong kailangan para matugunan agad ang pangangailangan ng bawat pamilya."

(I will push for a law where health workers would go out of health centers and visit houses everyday, to check the health of families, bringing with them weighing scales, medicines, injections, and whatever is needed to address the needs of each family.)

– Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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