3 solons want to tap Malampaya fund to improve PH’s health infrastructure | Inquirer News
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3 solons want to tap Malampaya fund to improve PH’s health infrastructure

/ 01:44 PM October 21, 2020
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Health workers get a blood sample from a newborn baby through a makeshift window on the COVID-19 isolation area of the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Manila, Philippines, September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

MANILA, Philippines — Three lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pushing for the usage of a portion of Malampaya funds to improve the country’s healthcare system, particularly to finance public health infrastructure projects.

House Bill No. 7800 or the “Public Health Infrastructure Fund” seeks to amend Presidential Decree No. 910 which created the Energy Development Board, which has the power to formulate policies and implement and coordinate all activities of the government relative to the exploration, exploitation and development, and extraction of energy resources.

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The measure was authored by 1-PACMAN Reps. Eric Pineda and Mikee Romero, as well as Manila Teachers Rep. Virgilio Lacson.

In a media forum on Wednesday, Pineda pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the need to improve the healthcare facilities in the country.

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“Although it’s not really big compared to what we really need in terms of trying to control this pandemic but on the average kasi, Malampaya earns about $1 billion for the government and most of this utilized for oil exploration and likewise the improvement of our energy sector,” Pineda said.

“But I guess in times of calamity, that’s why we want to amend the bill, na in times of calamity, this Malampaya fund can be made available and for us, the best way to use these funds is to improve our healthcare facilities,” he added.

According to Pineda, public healthcare facilities in the country are “severely lacking.”

For instance, he cited that there are only 3.7 doctors in the country for every 10,000 patients, which is lower in the prescribed ratio by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is a minimum of 10 doctors for every 10,000 patients.

“Kaya ito yung mga kailangan nating pagtuunan ng panahon at bigyan ng pondo kaagad dahil kalimitan ang ating mga hospital and hospital workers talagang they’re overstressed so we have to find ways to help them and hopefully this fund will be one of those that can be put into good use,” Pineda said.

(That is why we need to prioritize this and provide immediate fund because most of our hospitals and hospital workers are really overstressed, so we have to find ways to help them and hopefully this fund will be one of those that can be put into good use.)

But in order to address these, Pineda said the country cannot simply rely on loans and the private sector.

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“We have to look for alternative sources of funds not from loans or from the private sectors or from government or other governments that are friendly and willing to give us loans, but we have to also look at other sources and this bill we saw that the Malampaya fund is perfect—that we can use this for such purpose,” Pineda said.

Pineda said authors of the measure will ask Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to certify the bill as urgent in the House so that it can be immediately passed in the lower chamber.

“Hopefully the President can sign it also by the end of the year and then this fund be available by next year na,” Pineda said.

JPV

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