Press Release
October 20, 2020

Bong Go's health committee tackles local hospital bills that seek to improve healthcare system in various parts of the country

During a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Health on Monday, October 19, its chair, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, recognized the importance of investing in the healthcare system to make it more responsive in the future. Go also called on government to augment the operations of existing government hospitals and prioritize health infrastructure projects. Several local hospital bills were deliberated during the said hearing.

"Kailangan na kailangan natin ngayon 'yan, lalong-lalo na po may pandemya para siguradong may sapat na kapasidad ang tatakbuhang ospital ng ating mga kababayan," said the Senator.

"Noong bago pa man magkaroon ng COVID, kulang na talaga ang ating mga pasilidad at equipment para tugunan ang pangangailangang medikal ng mga Pilipino. Wala pong magawa ang ating mga kababayan kundi makipagsiksikan sa mga punong ospital dahil wala silang pambayad sa pribadong ospital," he added.

Recounting his experiences in going around many hospitals in the country, Go also said that he witnessed firsthand the hardships Filipinos all over the country have to endure just to seek medical treatment.

"Ako po, sa kakaikot ko po sa mga ospital tuwing nagbubukas ang Malasakit Center, nakikita ko minsan po ay nakahilera diyan ang pasyente. Isang kama, dalawang pasyente, ['yung iba] nakahilera pa po sa corridor. Papaano po gagaling ang pasyente kung ganon po ang kanilang sitwasyon? Kawawa talaga 'yung mga kababayang Pilipino kung ganun po ang sitwasyon."

He added that he firmly believes that increasing the bed capacity of hospitals further will reinforce their compliance with physical distancing measures to prevent further spread of contagious diseases.

Local hospital bills tackled during the hearing include:

-House Bill 2582, which increases the bed capacity of the Lying-In Clinic in Rizal, Palawan;

-HB 6498 and Senate Bill 1768, increasing the bed capacity of the Naguilian District Hospital in La Union;

-HB 6729 and SB 1769, increasing the bed capacity of the Rosario District Hospital in Rosario, La Union;

-HB 6727 and SB 1383, increasing the bed capacity of the Sinait District Hospital in Ilocos Sur;

-HB 6728 and SB 1291 and 1609, increasing the bed capacity of the East Avenue Medical Center;

-HB 6730 and SB 1696, increasing the bed capacity of the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center in Misamis Occidental;

- HB 6731 and SB 1647, establishing the Bacolod City General Hospital;

- HB 6753, converting the Medina Extension Hospital in Medina, Misamis Oriental into a General Hospital;

- HB 6850 and SB 1654, establishing the Eastern Pangasinan Regional Medical and Trauma Center;

- HB 6971 and SB 1584, converting the Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital in Palo, Leyte into the Governor Benjamin T. Romualdez General Hospital and Schistosomiasis Center, and increasing its bed capacity;

- HB 6972 and SB 1378, renaming the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City, into Eastern Visayas Medical Center, and increasing its bed capacity;

- HB 7321 and SB 1616, establishing the Davao Occidental General Hospital; and

- HB 7322 and SB 1874, upgrading the Lanao del Norte Provincial Hospital into the Lanao del Norte Regional Medical Center.

Earlier this year, Go sponsored a series of local hospital bills to augment their bed capacities and upgrade their equipment. The need has been highlighted by the challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

Aside from measures upgrading hospitals, Go has also been pushing for Senate Bill 1226 or the proposed Department of Health Hospital Bed Capacity Rationalization Act. The said measure has been approved in the committee level and will be reported soon in the Senate plenary.

The bill aims to authorize DOH to increase bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals. This will also allow the DOH to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines to streamline the process of upgrading public hospitals.

During the hearing, Go also tackled other measures seeking to improve the healthcare system. One of them is SB 1829 which proposes that the Secretary of Finance be made as chair of the PhilHealth board instead of the Secretary of Health.

The DOH has expressed its support for the measure, saying that it will "strengthen fiscal management measures that shall be made possible through a chairmanship by the Secretary of Finance."

Go concurred, saying it is probably time to have the Department of Finance take the helm, explaining that PhilHealth is an insurance corporation and it will be very appropriate if the Secretary of Finance would lead the Board.

Referring to DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Go mentioned that the current DOF chief personally pledged to him to go after all the corrupt individuals within and outside the PhilHealth should he becomes the chair of agency's board.

Once corruption is resolved, Dominguez also proposed that a new IT System be implemented since it is "very, very important" to manage the institution.

"It is also necessary to review the powers and authority of the chairman of this body so to make it more effective," Dominguez added.

Ending his questions, Go thanked Dominguez for being open on taking on the challenge. He also expressed confidence that he can perform the job well as chair of the PhilHealth board if the proposed measure is passed into law.

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