Press Release
September 15, 2020

Senator Pia S. Cayetano's Opening Statement
Committee on Health & Demography Hearing
On the Proposed Medical Reserve Corps Act
15 September 2020

Good morning to all. Just a very short statement.

I filed the Medical Reserve Bill early on at the start of COVID. Because actually, in February, even before there was any declaration on quarantine or lockdown, I had already invited health experts to come to the country to discuss this, not knowing how bad it would be, not knowing that travel would be restricted in the whole world. And one of the persons is actually the chair of this international organization I belong to, it's called UNITE Network of Parliamentarians, to end infectious diseases.

So I am actually the Asia-Pacific Chair, and one of the recommendations that this organization is giving is really the creation of the Medical Reserve Force. So they immediately prepared the bill, I drafted it myself, and it is for consideration.

What I just like to point out though is, I think it is a misconception that we will be focusing only on health practitioners in this Medical Reserve Bill. Addressing a pandemic like this or any future crisis requires the participation of the whole of society. So you do not have to be a scientist, you do not have to be in the health field to actually become a member of the Medical Reserve. You would need encoders, you would need IT people, you would need people on the ground, students from all kinds of backgrounds to make this work.

And I do agree that compensation is also a factor. But we also have to consider that this is also in line with the President's call on the volunteerism frame of mind. So, the idea really is to keep them in top shape so that when they are needed, they can go out in the field, and siguro may token naman talaga yun. But obviously kapag andun na, kumbaga "giyera" na, syempre dapat maganda naman ang compensation.

But in the meantime, you apply to be a member of the reserve because you are proud to be able to serve your country. It is not really intended to be a major financial burden on the part of the country to include this Medical Reserves. It is an honor to be a member of the Medical Reserve.

Of course, we have to put budget into the training that goes into it para naman kapag kinailangan na sila, ready na sila because pinaghandaan nang husto. They were given the resources they need, the support they need to really train.

So that is the essence of the bill that I authored, Mr. Chair. And I look forward to also hearing the resource persons give their comments about it. Thank you.

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