As the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic continues, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called on the government to continue investing more in the country’s healthcare system and learn its lessons from the ongoing pandemic.
In an ambush interview, the senator stressed it will be better for the government to invest in healthcare systems and underscored the importance of providing sufficient funds for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) given its crucial role in addressing the pandemic.
RITM is the main research arm of the Department of Health (DoH) for prevention and control of infectious and tropical diseases in the Philippines and it was the first — and for a time — the sole Covid-19 testing facility in the country.
Go stressed that he fought for the budget of the institute during the past deliberations in the Senate as he reiterated his call for the improvement of the country’s public hospitals, proposing the establishment of a “super hospital” in every region in the country.
“We should invest more in hospitals, and I am planning to establish regional super hospitals which will be at par with the Southern Philippines Medical Center and Philippine General Hospital,” Go said.
“We would also want to have what we can call super centers in each region which will offer complete health services,” he added.
The lawmaker also disclosed that the Senate will further study House Bill 10392, which mandates local government units (LGU) to earmark at least 15 percent of their share in national taxes for health services.
“We will study this in the Senate,” Go said. “We will study — as legislators, the devolved function on health of which the local government units are primarily in charge in their respective jurisdictions when it comes to key public services.”
“We will see if there will be legal implications on the bill which will require LGU to allocate a very specific portion ng annual national tax allotment share for health services,” he added.
If passed into law, the bill will amend Section 287 of the Local Government Code and require LGU to appropriate in its annual budget no less than 15 percent of its annual national tax allotment for health services.
Amid the public health concerns, Go said that he will continue to fight for policies that improve access of Filipinos to healthcare services and promote the rights of healthcare workers.