House approves on final reading bills of ‘national importance’

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill resolution extending until Dec. 31, 2020 the validity of the budget for maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlay of this year’s P3.757-trillion national budget.

The House, in plenary session with Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., unanimously passed on final reading House Bill 5437. A total of 190 lawmakers voted for the measure.

Congress moves to extend the validity of this year’s budget, citing the delays in the enactment of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill early this year and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services.

At the same time, voting 185-1-7, the House passed on third and final reading House Bill 5744 or the bill institutionalizing “Malasakit Centers” that were used by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go to launch his candidacy in the May elections.

House leaders, led by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speakers Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Raneo Abu of Batangas, hailed the bill’s passage. 

The House approved version was a replica of what was filed at the Senate by Go.   The bill proposes to create Makasakit Centers in all DOH hospitals and the PGH to serve as a one-stop-shop for medical and financial assistance. The centers would also provide patient navigation and refer them to a health care provider network.

Villafuerte of Camarines Sur’s Second District said these centers will be “health system enablers” designed to improve patient assistance and referral and provide additional non-medical support to poor Filipinos in need of medical treatment.

“The establishment of Malasakit Centers will complement the UHC (Universal Health Care) program,” said Villafuerte, one of the co-authors of the consolidated measure endorsed by the committee. 

Abu agreed with Villafuerte that the Malasakit Centers will be able to fill the gaps in service delivery of health care in the country.  “This is the reason why the Malasakit Center will be institutionalized so that centers be established, maintained and operated in all hospitals of the  Department of Health, local government units (LGUs), Department of National Defense  (DND) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs),” said Abu of Batangas.

But Lagman Rep. Edcel Lagman maintained his opposition to the bill.  He said the creation of Malasakit centers would “just duplicate what present personnel are already doing in the DOH hospitals and costing the country additional millions of pesos.”

The House committee on health earlier said the government will need P265.76 million to pay personnel services for 73 Malasakit centers, and another P15.73 million for the operation of a center or a program office.

Topics: House of Representatives , Edcel Lagman , National budget , Universal Health Care , Martin Romualdez
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