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Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

I vote No to House Bill No. 5477 as amended by substitution for the following overriding reasons:

  1. No amount of legislation “institutionalizing” the Malasakit Centers will cleanse them of their partisan origin which helped propel the senatorial candidacy of the Malasakit poster boy.

  2. The Malasakit Centers indubitably duplicate what is presently being performed by PhilHealth and the Department of Health like the following:

    1. PhilHealth has its own liaison office in DOH hospitals nationwide which takes care of the grant of medical and financial assistance to covered patients under PhilHealth;

    2. The DOH has its existing Public Assistance Unit (PAU) which is being augmented, reclassified and strengthened to accommodate the Malasakit centers. Moreover, DOH hospitals have their own individual finance officer who coordinates with agencies like the DSWD, Pagcor, PCSO, and Office of the President with respect to these agencies’ grant of medical and financial assistance to indigent and financially-strapped patients;

    3. There is no need for Malasakit personnel to explain to patients how to secure membership and benefits from the National Health Insurance Program because these are already being done by PhilHealth concerned personnel;

    4. There is also no need for Malasakit personnel to assist in the extension of DSWD medical and financial assistance like medicine, transportation and burial benefits because these are presently managed by the DSWD Regional and Provincial Offices as well as DSWD social workers who are assigned to DOH hospitals. Moreover, the DSWD has its existing Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) providing guidelines on financial assistance; and

    5. The Malasakit Centers need not provide express lane to PWDs because this is already mandated by existing law.

  3. For lack of appropriate appropriation language, the Malasakit bill conceals the fact that this additional bureaucratic layer would need added allocations in the amount of almost P300 million annually for the establishment and operations of Malasakit Centers.

  4. The substitute Malasakit bill is not ripe for third and final reading for the following grounds:

    1. The substitute bill is a carbon copy of the Senate-approved bill and was crafted and introduced in Plenary without the privity and approval of the sponsoring health committee, consequent to the importuning of the concerned Senator for the House of Representatives to approve a version completely identical to his bill in the Senate in order to foreclose a bicameral conference committee. The admitted pressure from this Senator bastardized the committee system and the import of Plenary deliberations of a co-equal Chamber as it conscripted unanimity despite the pendency of 18 separate bills filed by individual Representatives which have differing provisions from the Senate bill;

    2. Copies of this copycat substitute bill were distributed to the handful of Members in the Plenary without giving them ample opportunity to peruse the substitute bill even as the Plenary deliberations were based on the consolidated version approved by the Committee on Health;

    3. Even the Chair of the Committee on Health was not given an advance copy of the substitute bill; and

    4. Not one of the remaining Members on the Floor was recognized to introduce individual amendments or to question the absence of a quorum as the approval on second reading of the substitute bill was railroaded with only a few Representatives present in the Plenary.

It is bad enough when a bill is approved by a tyranny of numbers over the ascendancy of reason, but it is worse when a bill is deemed approved by a paucity of numbers in derogation of parliamentary rules.

I vote No.