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’Malampaya funds for health care’

The House of Representatives' Committee on Health and several other congressmen on Wednesday filed a bill that allows the use of funds from the Malampaya natural gas field in health care.

The legislators, led by Reps. Eric Pineda and Virgilio Lacson filed House Bill 800, which amends Presidential Decree 910 to enable Congress to allot a portion of the Malampaya funds and other similar Public-Private Partnership projects “to improve the state of public health care.”

Both congressmen, who are COVID-19 survivors, discussed the possible use of the Malampaya fund during the virtual breakfast forum Kapihan ng Samahang Plaridel Wednesday titled ‘Funding the PH Health care System Amid COVID.’

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, who attended the forum, said.

“There are many inadequacies in our health care sector, especially when it comes to facilities. We feel the effects especially in provincial regions that have limited hospitals and testing laboratories.

“With this bill, we can increase our budget and put up more facilities. It can fill critical gaps in the system.”

Vergeire added: “There are many inadequacies in our health care sector, especially when it comes to facilities. We feel the effects especially in provincial regions that have limited hospitals and testing laboratories.”

Lacson and Pineda both admitted the local health care sector had been long overdue for a boost in financial support.

Lacson, the nominee of the Manila Teachers Party-list group and chairman of the Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development said, “We recognize the current need to develop a resilient health care system. This pandemic should be a lesson learned to prioritize health care.”

He said Malampaya funds “can assist many other Filipinos who are struggling with medical conditions.

“We have untapped funds from Malampaya amounting to P23 million. If we can amend PD 910, Malampaya can be a source for health care.”

Pineda, a nominee of 1Pacman party-list group, said tapping funds from the exploitation of natural resources should be done to augment the budget for health care especially during the present COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to save our countrymen first and have enough health care facilities for the (COVID-19) infected.”

Pineda added: “We have to look for alternative funds, not from loans or the private sector. We know that Malampaya earns P1 billion for the government annually. Right now, the best way to use these funds is to improve health care facilities and support health care workers. While there’s no vaccine, we must act immediately.”

Vergeire, for her part, said, “We appreciate that this bill looks at our needs in the health sector and how to source funds to put up more infrastructure—not just in Metro Manila but other regions too.

Hopefully, it will be passed so we can continue improving our capacity and be better prepared for future health challenges.”

As the Malampaya project nears its end in 2023, Congress continues to emphasize the importance of its continuity and the continuity of similar exploration projects. Congressman Lacson concurred,

“Technology in exploration has developed over the years, and Malampaya could be extended depending on the Department of Energy’s decision. If so, then it would be a great help to our fight against the pandemic and can help develop a good health system.”

According to Congressmen Lacson and Pineda, amending P.D. 910 carried nationwide urgency to alleviate plight of the Filipino people from the consequences of COVID, which affect their health, the economy, and their livelihoods.

“We need to invest in the health of the Filipino people. If we improve their health, we can grow our economy again,” said Congressman Lacson.

“We are doing our best to have this bill approved immediately.” 

Undersecretary Vergeire concluded, “We appreciate that this bill looks at our needs in the health sector and how to source funds to put up more infrastructure—not just in Metro Manila but other regions too.

Hopefully, it will be passed so we can continue improving our capacity and be better prepared for future health challenges.”

Topics: House of Representatives , Malampaya natural gas , health care , Eric Pineda , Virgilio Lacson
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