AT least three House leaders are pushing for sufficient funding for the National Integrated Cancer Center Act (NICAA).
In separate statements, Davao City rep. Paolo Duterte, chairman of the House committee on accounts, and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said cancer patients need more assistance from the government.
According to Duterte, he has already requested Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Chairman of the House committee on appropriations Eric Go Yap more funds for the program.
“My Mom is cancer survivor. Diagnosed in year 2016 and successfully recovered more a year after treatment and long-term survivorship transitions. It is our duty to provide help to every fellow citizens to our best. Give them a second chance to live,” Duterte explained.
Duterte said the government should prioritize the needs of those who don’t have enough income or capabilities to survive their illnesses.
He said that sufficient funding will be included for NICCA during the bicameral conference of the 2021 budget.
Vargas expressed gratitude for the commitment of the House leaders in providing adequate funding for the law’s implementation next year.
Vargas is one of the principal authors of the NICCA or the RA 11215.
“The assurance of Speaker Velasco and Congressman Duterte rescues the law from the risk of irrelevance. It will give hope to thousands of cancer patients and their families,” Vargas said.
When the 2021 National Expenditure Program was submitted to Congress last August Vargas said he has requested that a budgetary line item worth P550 million for NICCA’s implementation be included in next year’s budget.
“Like Congressman Duterte, my mother also fought cancer. Knowing the pain of losing a loved one to this dreaded disease fuels my drive to ease the suffering of cancer patients. I know Congressman Duterte’s mother is proud—just as mine would have been—about the advocacy we share,” Vargas said.
NICCA aims to ease the burden of cancer patients by expanding the benefit packages offered by Philhealth for Filipinos diagnosed with cancer.
The law also mandates the establishment of the Philippine Cancer Center to ensure access to cancer care services and medicines.
Cancer continues to claim the lives of more Filipinos due to the prohibitive cost of medicines and treatment. The cost of chemotherapy per session alone can range from P20,000 to as much as P120,000.