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Gov't urged to implement UHC law as it tackles COVID-19 -- Pangilinan.

By Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Francis "Kiko" N. Pangilinan on Friday urged the Philippines to approach the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as a medical issue and fully implement the Universal Health Care (UHC) law.

"The pandemic is principally a health problem and the solutions must be health-centric. Kung buhay pa si Dr. Jose Rizal ngayon, siguradong ganyan din ang itutulak niyang solusyon," Pangilinan said. (If Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today, I am sure he would approach the pandemic as a health problem.)

Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), issued the statement as the country celebrates Rizal's 159th birthday. Rizal was a medical doctor.

"That's why I will not support any suggestion to postpone the implementation of the UHC law. Ngayong pandemya, kailangang-kailangan ito, ngayon pa i-po-postpone?" he said in response to PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) president (Ricardo) Dick Morales's statement to the joint oversight that PhilHealth may have to postpone the UHC law implementation as it suffered heavy losses due to COVID-19,'' he said. (Now that the UHC law is badly needed because of the pandemic, why postpone it?)

''The pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, and the response must be health-centric. All actions, especially by the government because of its leadership position, must be about ensuring that everyone is healthy, and that those who get sick will be treated," he added.

Pangilinan also said that he, together with his colleagues in the 24-member Senate, could work with the government in finding sources for the UHC law implementation.

He said there might be foreign and local funding sources for the P220 billion that Morales said is needed to cover the deficit for this year and their projected needed government assistance for next year.

"The source of our increasing COVID cases, low contact tracing numbers, low testing rates, and high mortality rates, especially among health workers, is the lack of government focus on the problem. Let me reiterate: the problem is health, the solutions must be health-centric," Pangilinan stressed.

Pangilinan also pointed out that while in exile in Zamboanga, Rizal became a farmer, highlighting the direct relationship between agriculture and health.

There, he also built a school, a hospital, and a water supply system -- all essential services, he pointed out.

"Dapat ganyan din ang pagtingin natin sa pandemic, opportunity to create a better normal and to focus on correcting what has been wrong with our systems involving essential services, instead of wasting precious resources on the non-essential like the anti-terror bill and even federalism," the senator said. (That should be the focus.)

Pangilinan urged young people to "continue asking the hard questions about how our beloved country is run. Draw inspiration and courage from Rizal, who wrote exquisite poems and satirical, revolutionary novels to expose the truth."

Rizal studied medicine in Europe and specialized in ophthalmology and general medicine so he could treat his mother. While there, he became exposed to the liberal ideas of democracy and freedom.

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Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan (Photo from Kiko Pangilinan website / kikopangilinan.com / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National; Universal Health Care, Francis Pangilinan
Author:Casayuran, Mario
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jun 19, 2020
Words:507
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