As COVID-19 cases worldwide hit record high driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant, Anakalusugan nominee Ray Roquero urged local councilors to be the party-list’s partners in pushing health measures in Congress.
“This is not the time to rest. Rather, this is the time to consolidate the lessons learned from our continuing battle against COVID-19. In this period of disruption and doubt about what the future holds, this is the time to cement partnerships with those who are your logical and natural allies in the national legislature,” Roquero told members of the Philippine Councilor’s League during its convention in Iloilo City.
“Anakalusugan party-list was born before the outbreak of the pandemic but born, it now seems to me, to perform at the right time a task like no other, and that is to help our fellow Filipinos battle through this public health crisis with renewed hope,” he added.
Roquero said in the past three years in Congress, Anakalusugan party-list has principally authored at least 15 measures increasing the capacity and upgrading hospitals across the country, 10 measures to improve the welfare of medical and health workers, 16 measures to boost health services across the country, and 16 measures to beef up the country’s pandemic response.
“Kalusugan muna bago ang lahat. [Health first above all else.] This is the partnership we offer to you—a commitment to protect the health of our people, the greatest resource of our country,” he said.
Roquero explained Anakalusugan’s 10-point health program “designed to build up our human resources, strengthen the healthcare system at the LGU level, and ensure just compensation for all those who are directly involved in providing health care to our people.”
He said the party-list is pushing for the regularization of the benefits of barangay nutrition scholars (BNS), barangay health workers (BHW), barangay service point officers (BSPO), day care workers (DCW), as well as barangay tanods who have served as frontliners too during the pandemic.
“Anakalusugan also proposes a raise in the salaries of health-care workers, ensuring that their monthly take-home pay is globally competitive. This is one way to make them stay at their jobs and prevent the exodus of our best healthcare front-liners to greener pastures abroad,” he said.
He said funding can be sourced from the increase in the national tax allotment (NTA) of local government units with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling that includes the taxes collected by the Bureau of Customs and other national agencies in the computation of LGU shares.
“And to make sure that their work environment is well-equipped to deal with any public health crisis, we will propose for every barangay the construction of a basic healthcare clinic to provide free service to our people,” he said.
“A partnership forged in the fire of a public health crisis in all likelihood will not wither away but will endure. So, I extend our invitation to you now: Let us make our party-list’s mission a big part of your mission, too,” Roquero added.