Press Release
May 6, 2014

44th Annual Convention of the Philippine College of Physicians
May 6, 2014
SMX Convention Center, SM MOA

Isa pong karangalan na maimbitahan at maisama sa hanay ninyo ngayong umaga. Unang- una, nais ko pong batiin si Dr. Priscilla Caguioa, ang ating president, si Dr. Anthony Leachon, vice president and overall chairman, si Dr. Mariano Lopez, secretary, at si Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, treasurer. Ang ating mga Board of Regents and family of the late Dr. Antonio Sison. Distinguished healthcare leaders. I would also like to acknowledge your immediate past president, Dr. Oscar Cabahug, and to all the members and staff of the Philippine College of Physicians present here today, a pleasant morning to all of you.

It is a distinct privilege to be invited to keynote your convention. Napakataas po ng pagtingin ko sa mga doktor. Alam ko po na hindi madali ang inyong pagsasanay para matapos ninyo ang inyong medical degree. Alam ko rin na hindi madali ang inyong trabaho at stress na pinagdadaanan ninyo araw-araw. Bakit ko nasabi ito? Unang-una po, my grandfather, the father of my mom, was a doctor. He was the resident physician of the Lepanto Mines after World War II. He was also a part of the Death March with my other grandfather. Aside from my lolo, my father-in-law, Dr. Teodoro Llamanzares, is an ENT and my mother-in-law is a clinical child psychologist.

Of course, we also have Dr. Chua, in-law of ours who is a cardiologist. And my favorite cousin and the favorite relative of all our relatives-Dr. Daniel Lipayon. And I am telling you now he is the favorite because every time we feel any aches and pains, or we're worried about something, he is the first person we call. We are so blessed to have a doctor in the family that we can call almost anytime. So thank you, Daniel and of course, his wife Dr. Julie Chua Lipayon. So this is all a tribute to them.

Alam ninyo po ang trabaho ninyo, kahit may problema pa kayo sa bahay, kahit masama pa ang gising ninyo, when you wake up in the morning and you go to your clinic or when you go to an operating room, your work cannot be less than perfect. Ang aking father-in-law na head and neck surgeon, sabi nga nya, mahulog lang ng konti ang kamay niya, magkamali lang siya ng konti, meron ng paralysis na pwedeng mangyari. So ang sinasabi ko nga, pag nagkamali ang doctor, ang pasyente ay mas maaaring mapalapit kay Lord. Ok lang na mapalapit kay Lord kung mabait ang pasyente ninyo.

Sa ating mga doctors dito, the medical profession is truly a noble profession and again I'm happy to be here. I'm not a doctor, so obviously I would not be lecturing you about medicine. Instead I will be talking to you about what we have accomplished in the Senate so far and what still needs to be done.

But before I do that that, let me just share with you an insight I learned about the nature of the profession. It is said that all professions exist to make themselves redundant. For example, doctors diagnose ailment and treat the patient so that once cured, the patient no longer needs to see you anymore or just every now and then. The same is true for the other professions. A student has no need of a teacher anymore if the teacher taught him to study and think for himself. A lawyer, if he is any good, is able to solve his client's legal troubles (or keep his client away from trouble). An engineer is deemed incompetent if the house, or the bridge, or the building he built developed leaks or cracks or collapses at the slightest earthquake. The measure of a good profession, therefore, is when he succeeds in making himself not needed anymore by his patient or client. This is the grand irony of the professions.

I would like to think that the same rule should apply to politicians. As a senator, I see my role as someone who comes up with policy solutions to our country's problems. I also see myself as someone who should serve as an inspiration and a good example for our people. Kaya naman ingat na ingat po ako dahil ayokong masira ang magandang alaala na iniwan ng aking ama, ang kanyang reputasyon. I ran for public office because I wanted to change our country for the better and for always. When I first decided to run, sabi ng iba "bakit ka tatakbo ang dumi ng pulitika?" But shouldn't we want to, if we feel that there is a chance that something can be fixed? Something with great potential. Didn't Cardinal Tagle say that people, the youth, especially good people, should aspire to be a part of government service. Eventually, if we join public service and we become true to our mandate, then we will be able to do something to uplift the lives of our countrymen and eventually, our countrymen won't have to rely on dole- outs anymore.

Ladies and gentlemen, just today in the papers, they said that the Philippines has the highest number of homeless people in the world. On the other hand, our country's economy is greatly improving so obviously there is a disparity and a lot can be done to fix the situation of our countrymen.

I intend to make the most out of my stint in the Senate. I have about five and a half more years to offer laws that can truly help make lives better for our countrymen. Doctors should ensure the health of their patients. Government leaders should ensure the well- being of the nation. But why do we have many politicians and lawyers? What bothers me is that there are not enough doctors.

In a recent data released, there are about 150,000 licensed medical practitioners but there only about 70,000 of you who are actively practicing. There are about 103 million people in our country so with the 70,000 registered and practicing doctors-that leaves us with about 1,500 patients per doctor. And ladies and gentlemen, they say that about 10,000 of those have actually migrated to other countries. But the sad thing is when I was in the US recently, even in the US, there are not many Filipino doctors anymore. Unlike the contemporary of our parents, ang dami ng mga Pilipinong doktor. Ngayon po ay iilan na lamang ang mga doctor na galing sa Pilipinas. I know that nursing is a local profession but a lot of our doctors here would rather be an RN in the US. Is it because we don't want to meet the challenges? Or is it because our medical schools here are not prepared with the challenges of medicine all over the world or in the international community?

There will be an Economic Integration or the ASEAN Economic Integration Community in 2015, and even then, we will be pushing perhaps for professionals to be able to practice everywhere. We are pushing that, let's say, doctors of other countries would be able to practice here and you likewise to the other countries in Asia. We should be competitive. We should have our medical profession strong, especially our education for our doctors so that they can take examinations anywhere and will not feel inferior.

Now, to report to you, in my first nine months in office, we were able to file 23 bills in the Senate. Hindi ko na po sila iisa-isahin. Instead, I will just mention to you the very relevant ones and the closest to my heart that I've actually worked on.

The first is the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. As you may already know, the Senate passed the FOI bill last March. The bill, therefore, is now in the congressmen's court.

What is Freedom of Information Act? It's basically the right of the people to know what is happening in the government. Right now, if you go to the government and ask for information, they may or may not give it to you. But in the Freedom of Information Act, they will be compelled to give it to you, even copies of contracts they have with private companies. Kung merong Freedom of Information Act years ago, the PDAF scandal would not have been blown out of proportion. It might have been nipped in the bud. The Freedom of Information is the "Sunshine Principle" in our laws. It's transparency.

Ano pong ibig sabihin ng "Sunshine Principle"? Hindi po ba lahat ng mga tinatago natin ng matagal, halimbawa, sa cabinet, nabubulok, nangangamoy dahil sa mikrobyo? Kailangan pong ilabas yan para masikatan ng araw. Malamang ganun din po ang ating mga transaksyon sa gobyerno. Dapat po may pakialam ang ating mga kababayan diyan at nakikita nila kung ano ang nangyayari. So, itinutulak ko po yan. So nakikiusap po ako sa inyo, to our doctors here, when you're treating your patients whom you know are members of Congress, please tell them to pass the Freedom of Information Bill in Congress. Baka pwede po subtly, takutin lang po ninyo, "Ay, baka maurong ng konti yung kamay ko kasi nanginginig".

No, but seriously, you know the medical profession. In fact, even in showbiz, you're all considered professionals. You issue receipts but you're one of the heavily taxed profession and they give a lot of service to our country. Not for anything, I'd rather you reconcile your differences with the BIR because you certainly don't want to be in trouble with them.

But what I'm saying is this, sometimes we feel this, "Bayad ako ng bayad ng taxes, saan ba napupunta yan", "Bayad ako ng bayad ng taxes, ang mga senators na yan, ang mga SALN nila P4 million lang daw ang pera nila, pero ang sasakyan nila P6 million" So hindi ka talaga gaganahan. That's why when I say, Freedom of Information, even transactions of the Senate, where they spent the allocations given them, be subject to your scrutiny if you are interested.

Even in the barangays, when they say "Mayor, yung pinangako niyo namang kalsada dito anong bang nangyari"? Pwede niyo tingnan yung contract. Mamaya sasabihin, "paano naman pupunta ang magsasaka eh matatakot yun"? Pero pwede pumunta ang magsasaka kasi sa media and pwedeng sabihin sa media. And the media can do the legwork for them.

A lot of information like budget expenditures will be uploaded immediately in the websites of all the departments. And all of the statements of assets and liabilities of all the members of Congress, the President, generals, and chaipersons of all the departments in government-owned and controlled corporations, barangay captains, mayors, vice mayors, governors will be uploaded in the website. This is part of the Freedom of Information. So I hope, doctors, please help us when you treat your patients, because I know they will need you especially when their life is hanging in a balance.

My second priority bill is the Free Lunch Program. Why am I saying that we should allot budget for this? The population of our country is about a hundred million people. Thirty percent of our population are 17 years old and below. That's how many children we have and yet our malnourished kids are about two million, 500,000 are severely wasted.

How can our country be competitive if our greatest resource, our people, are not smart? And they are not intelligent if they are undernourished in their development years. And this is true. That's why in countries like Thailand, their athletes are much more agile and much more competitive. Their students are faring well in their exams because they have some sort of food subsidy for their students.

During the time President Marcos kahit paano may nutribun. Hindi ba mas malaki ang ekonomiya natin ngayon? My standard lunch program will have a free lunch program for the early years of education which will be from grade four including preschool. It is a P10-billion a year program.Parang ang laki 'no? Ten billion. But when you think about, P63 billion is spent annually at a conditional cash transfer program, which is good, but it's money that they hold in their hands which can be used to buy shampoo or something else; whereas the lunch program like the Busog-Lusog program or the Blue Plate program of Ateneo is direct to the students, so that's the Sustansiya bill that I filed na medyo mahirap pa rin ipasa when you're asking for money, but I hope that we will also mention this.

Lastly is the film tourism bill, which is another priority of mine. The film tourism bill is very important because it gives us free publicity in other countries. Well, of course you know Lord of the Rings-because sumikat yung New Zealand; 100% ang tinaas ng tourism influx in their country.

The Beach-I don't know if you noticed but Leonardio Di Caprio in Thailand, lumakas yung tourism [sa] crater sa Cambodia - so there's an interest in that. So because of movies, you are able to create more jobs. More people come to your country to visit, so more jobs are generated. So, on and on, we have [other films] but I don't wanna bore you with the details anymore. But what I'm trying to say is these are already priority measures and I hope that we will be passing the law before my Senate term expires in 2019.

Nais ko pong hingin ang tulong at suporta ninyo. Madali lang naman pong tandaan kasi po lahat ay nag-uumpisa sa 'F' - FOI: Freedom of Information, feeding program, at film tourism; so kung kapampangan parang 'P' na rin yun.

My favorite ... Dr. Antonio Sison once said that to become a good doctor, one must learn to become a keen observer and life-long learner. He said that "a physician must have a keen eye to be able to diagnose his patients" and he also said that "a physician must be a life-long learner and must continuously keep himself updated on the latest developments in medicine." Dr. Sison also said that "one must not become a good doctor just by reading medical journals; in other words, a good physician is not only a student of medicine but is a student of life - a scholar of the human condition."

Ladies and gentlemen, if every public official had the virtues of a good doctor - intelligence, discipline, and compassion, then all, or maybe most of the ills of our country can be healed. Congratulations and thank you so much for your time.

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