Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has dismissed hints that he will delay passage of bills to force the national government to fund several provincial hospitals.
Drilon said this after a lengthy verbal exchange with Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, frustrated by his questions about the bills to nationalize and expand the public hospitals he was sponsoring in plenary sittings on Thursday, May 20.
Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said local government budgets could not meet the cost of building hospitals and increasing their bed capacity and that the national government should be forced to intervene to help build health facilities.
The administration’s lawmaker wondered why Drilon kept asking questions when the measures were already approved in the House of Representatives. He also argued that Filipino lives are at stake every time the adoption of these measures is delayed.
Go offered to end the arraignment of the measures he sponsored, but other senators backed Drilon in saying that questions about the measures should be addressed on the ground.
Drilon insisted on the need to review the policy of transferring health services to local government units (LGUS) in accordance with Republic Law No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
“I am not against expanding our hospitals. It should be expanded. Our health system is one of the weakest, as shown by the pandemic experience that we have been living for a year and a half, ”said Drilon during the period of inquiry.
“What I’m raising is who should fund this? Under current policy, it should be funded by local government, ”he added.
He also raised the Mandanas Supreme Court decision, which in 2018 ruled that all LGU internal revenue allocations (IRAs) would come from all revenue collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Among the senators who supported Drilon were Senator Pia Cayetano and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri.
Cayetano noted that there were “puzzling issues” with the measurements, noting that some of them are not just bills seeking to increase the capacity of hospital beds.
She also said some of the Go-sponsored measures are complicated as they seek to change the status of hospitals from a function vested in the LMU to a national function.
“It seems to be a bed capacity issue, but there is also a nationalization issue. It’s confusing, ”Cayetano said.
“We have to know what we are facing so that we can ask the right questions and then help shape this policy,” she stressed.
Drilon, for his part, dismissed Go’s insinuation saying they were only raising “legitimate issues.”
“This involves the Mandanas ruling and its effect on the government’s fiscal capacity to meet its needs. Perhaps the Cabinet is also concerned about this, ”he stressed.
“I oppose the motive on my part. Wickedness motive attribution, uses, “Bakit pinapatagal pa natin ito (why are we prolonging this)? This implies that I am doing it just to prolong it. But if the right sponsor can answer the questions more accurately, instead of asking for a suspension, we could finish this faster. But I want it and I am very sorry that we are prolonging this, ”said the minority leader.
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