SWP to Sen. JV Ejercito: Great work so far but please ensure a good UHC bill to the end | SWP Press Statement 15 Oct 2018
SocialWatch Phils·Thursday, October 18, 2018
SWP to Sen. JV Ejercito: Great work so far but please ensure a good UHC bill to the end
We in Social Watch Philippines (SWP), a network of over eighty civil society organizations, heartily congratulate Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, for his decisive leadership in shepherding Senate Bill (SB) 1896 or the #UniversalHealthCare (UHC) bill which seeks to ensure that every Filipino has access to comprehensive health services.
We also thank the Senate for their unanimous vote to approve the UHC bill on third reading. Last but not least, we thank President Rodrigo #Duterte for certifying the bill as urgent thereby lending immediacy to the passage of the Bill.
We are happy to see that many of the progressive provisions which civil society fought for, has won the support of many senators, as these are now contained in the senate version of the bill. Some of these provisions which we consider as gains for the Filipino people are the following: the provision that every Filipino will now have access to primary care, organizing well-planned and well-resourced province-wide and city-wide health systems, the universal access to PhilHealth by virtue of Filipino citizenship, the promotion of the welfare, training and work security of health workers by guaranteeing permanent employment, scholarships, and return service agreement, guided by a National Health Human Resource Master Plan. Also we are glad that an integrated approach to health is reflected in the bill, as we know that many non-health factors, such as lack of education and safe, sanitary and secure living spaces, or what is referred to as the social determinants of health, have significant impact on people’s health. This is what the whole-of-system, whole-of-government, and whole-of-society approach to health is about, and we are glad that this perspective is strongly reflected in the bill.
The latest 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey reports the irony that while the majority of health facilities are provided by the private sector, these remain beyond the reach of the majority of Filipino households, most of whom are low-income earners and are from the poorest brackets. Instead, most Filipinos resort to medical confinement in extremely crowded places, treated by dedicated but overworked doctors and nurses in public health facilities which are oftentimes inadequate, run-down and neglected. If the rights of our people in health are realized, then the State— and not the private sector, corporate social responsibility notwithstanding-- is duty-bound to make quality healthcare affordable, accessible and available. This is the vision and inspiration that underlie the Senate version of the UHC bill which Sen. JV and his co-authors spearheaded.
The UHC bill is now poised to enter the bicameral process where the Senate and the Lower House legislators will harmonize their respective versions of the bill with a view to finalizing it. We urge our legislators led by Sen. JV Ejercito, and its other authors to safeguard the progressive provisions of the bill in order to ensure its truly “landmark” character. Now while the UHC bill already contains laudable provisions, there are still areas in the bill we in civil society would like to see improvements in, such as in the area of health financing. Ultimately, we know that the transformative potential of the UHC bill will only be realized if its ambition is matched by significant and sustainable increases in public investments.
Here, Senator Ejercito has once again shown that he truly cares for the health of Filipinos, especially the poor and downtrodden, when he filed Senate Bill 1605 aiming to increase tobacco tax to P90/pack with a 9% annual increase. This bill, which calls for tobacco tax increase, will not only be a viable source of additional funding for UHC, but is also aimed at preventing the use of killer cigarettes and tobacco products, thereby improving the health of Filipinos, especially the poor and the young.
The public will remember Senator Ejercito’s leadership on these two key legislations, the Universal Health Care bill and the bill Increasing Excise Tax on Tobacco Products. For these, we are grateful. As our legislators led by Senator JV Ejercito from the Senate enter the bicameral negotiations, know that we are watching you and that we have your back as you valiantly fight for the most progressive version of the UHC bill possible. We know that you will not disappoint us. We have come this far in the legislative process; we trust that you will reach the Finish Line with your head held high, because you and your fellow legislators will do the right thing by legislating a UHC bill that now has the real possibility of ensuring that quality healthcare will finally and truly be affordable, accessible and available for every Filipino.
Maraming salamat po. ### #UHCLawNow #SayYesToUHC #TaxTobaccoToTheMax4UHC #RaiseTobaccoTax4UHC #VoteTobaccoTax
Isagani R Serrano Marivic Raquiza Jeck Reyes-Cantos Rene Raya Janet Crndng Mars Mendoza Sheic Sims Dhel Lubyo AKTIB Philippines Carol Claudio Tax Tobacco to the Max Elijah San Fernando RoseAnn Batuigas Maria Fatima Villena Ralph Emerson Degollacion Lottie Salarda Ryan Earnest Goingco Pineda Bawas Bisyo Bawas Bisyo Youth for Sin Tax Movement Alternative Budget Initiative Health Cluster Alternative Budget Initiative Health Cluster
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