May 24, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Bills strengthening PH health emergency preparedness OK’d

TO ensure the country’s preparedness against future pandemics, the House Committee on Health chaired by Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr. (Lone District, Batanes) on Tuesday approved measures strengthening the healthcare manufacturing industries and amending the Quarantine Act of 2004.

Approved at the committee level were House Bills (HBs) 1100, authored by Rep. Keith Micah “Atty. Mike” Tan, and HBs 9739 and 3173, authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez and now finance secretary Ralph Recto respectively, which seek to provide local manufacturers and distributors of medicines, vaccines, ventilators and other necessary medical supplies equipment, with tax benefits, exemptions and incentives, as well as preferential government treatment in the procurement of critical products and services in times of pandemics and public emergencies.  

Gato justified the approval of the bills citing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The panel moved for the consolidation of HBs 1100, 9739 and 3173. 

The committee also approved for consolidation HBs 5665, 8908 and 9114 authored by Reps. Michael Romero and Raul Angelo “Jil” Bongalon respectively, which seek to amend “The Quarantine Act of 2004,” and enable better local and international health surveillance to prevent the spread of global diseases and public health threats.  

“The amendments propose to enhance the internal capacity of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), to detect and examine at the ports of entry and exit in the Philippines, of any incoming and outgoing vessels and aircraft, conduct the necessary surveillance over their sanitary conditions, as well as over their cargoes, passengers, crews, and all personal effects, and issue quarantine certificates, bills of health, and other equivalent documents,” Gato explained.  

Under the bills, the BOQ shall have authority over incoming vessels and outgoing vessels both domestic and foreign, including those of the Army, the Navy, their wharfage and anchorage and over aircraft and airports in so far as it is necessary, to prevent the introduction and spread of diseases, whether of local or international concern into the country. 

Other bills tackled during the meeting were the proposed Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products Prevention Act and the Health Maintenance Organizations Act.

Atty. Emilio Polig Jr., director of Food and Drug Administrations’s legal services support center, conveyed the FDA’s gratitude to the committee and House as a whole for the move to revise RA 8203 or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs. 

Meanwhile, Atty. Ann Edillon, relayed the Intellectual Property Office’s support for the bill.  

The proposed Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) Act, which is a consolidation of HBs 5336, 5568 and 8787, establishes the centers of managed care services under the Department of Finance to oversee and regulate HMO operations in the country recognizing HMOs pivotal role in advancing universal healthcare; streamlines coordination with PhilHealth to significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses of patients;  and prioritizes the rights of healthcare providers and members while fostering a culture of health consciousness among Filipinos.

Other congressmen who attended the hearing included Reps. Anthony Rolando Golez (Party-list, Malasakit@Bayanihan), Salvador Pleyto (6th District, Bulacan), Ricardo Cruz Jr. (1st District, Taguig-Pateros), and Raul Angelo “Jil” Bongalon (Party-list, Ako Bicol).