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New Doktor Para sa Bayan Law rejoiced

A HOUSE leader on Wednesday lauded the recent signing by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte of Republic Act (RA) No. 11509 or the “Doktor Para sa Bayan Act” to improve the country’s health care system.

“This Representation greatly rejoices with the recent passage into law of Doktor Para sa Bayan Act. This landmark legislation will greatly strengthen our public health workforce by increasing our doctor-to-population ratio to be at par with international standard and by guaranteeing the availability of competent government physicians at every point, even remotest, part of the land. Thus, ensuring the delivery of much-needed health services to all parts of the country,”

Deputy Speaker for Good Governance and Moral Uprightness and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva, a principal author of the law.

The law is expected to address and improve the country’s doctor-to-population ratio which currently stands at three physicians for every 10,000 Filipinos and aims to make it close to the World Health Organization (WHO)-prescribed ratio of 10 doctors to every 10,000 population, according to the CIBAC solon.

RA 11509 will also provide for a national medical scholarship and return service (MSRS) program that aims to address the depleting number of Filipino medical doctors engaged in public health sector.

It will provide scholarship grants to eligible and deserving students who want to pursue and finish a degree in Doctor of Medicine in public or private higher education institutions.

Scholars will receive a range of assistance including free tuition and school fees, allowance for other needs such as books, clothing, dormitory, internship and medical board review, and other education-related miscellaneous subsistence or living allowances. The law also mandates that qualified applicants from municipalities without government physicians shall be prioritized to ensure the assignment of at least one (1) doctor for every municipality in the country.

Further, the law states that every scholar, upon conferment of the license to practice medical profession, will be integrated into the public health and medical service system.

Within six to seven years from the time of passing the licensure exam, the scholar shall serve in a government public health office, hospital or facility in his/her hometown, province or any underserved town closest to him/her for at least one year for every scholarship year availed of.

Any scholar who fails or refuses to comply with the mandatory return service will be sanctioned of paying twice the cost of scholarship, including other benefits and expenses incurred in relation to the program.

“Every Filipino deserves nothing but the best quality of public health service. With RA 11509, we have already taken the first step in upgrading our public health sector to a kind that will make us more prepared and resilient to face health emergencies like the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Villanueva explained.

For his part, CIBAC party-list Rep. Domeng Rivera, another principal author, expressed his gratitude to President Duterte for swiftly signing bill into law.

“We would like to thank President Duterte for his swift and resolute action to sign RA 11509 into law. This is a big win for the health of our future generation,” Rivera said.

SURIGAO del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Wednesday urged government probe bodies to prioritize and focus their investigation in identifying and prosecuting the smuggler and his facilitator-cohorts from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) of the unregistered China-made anti-coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccines now being illegally sold in the Philippine drug market.

Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said the smugglers of the vaccines, allegedly developed by a Chinese-state-owned pharmaceutical company, could also be the ones who reportedly “donated” the same drug to some 300 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) who claimed to have inoculated themselves.

“The Department of Justice and its investigating arm, the National Bureau of Investigation, should focus its probe in identifying and prosecuting the smuggler and his BoC cohorts of the Sinopharm vaccines into the country,” Barbers said.

“If the DoJ and the NBI won’t probe and determine the real circumstances behind the illegal importation of the vaccines, malamang ay merong mga tao na kumita ng limpak-limpak na salapi at naloko ang ating mamamayan at pamahalaan sa gitna ng pandemya na ating kinakaharap ngayon,” Barbers added.

Barbers said he admires the investigative abilities of NBI probers in determining the identity of the “smugglers’ of the vaccine and his cohorts at the BoC, stopping the vaccines’s sale and distribution in the black market, and in prosecuting them before the courts of law.

On the part of the PSG, Barbers also lauded their decision to inoculate themselves with the vaccine being frontliners in securing the safety and preventing the possibility of the President being infected with COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has not approved any anti-COVID-19 vaccines for use in the local drug market and Sinopharm makers did not apply for clinical trials in the country.

Reports said the Sinopharm anti-COVID-19 vaccines were allegedly being sold in the black market for nearly US$400 or about P20,000, particularly to the Filipino Chinese community in Binondo.

The FDA, the state’s regulatory body against untested and unregulated local and imported food and drugs, so far has failed to make any arrests against importers, sellers and distributors of the illegal vaccines.

“Ang malamang na nangyari ay ‘nag-donate’ o nagbigay umano ng libre ang smuggler ng Sinopharm vaccines para gamitin ng mga PSG members at iba pang opisyal ng pamahalaan. Ang hindi natin alam ay kung gaano karaming vaccine ang ipinasobra at ipinasok ng smuggler sa bansa na ngayon ay ibinibenta sa black market ng P20,000 bawat inoculation,” he added.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has demanded an explanation from the PSG on the use of the smuggled vaccines that has caused a public uproar and sought sanctions against people behind the inoculation.

The PSG led by Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante has kept mum and continues to withhold information on the factual circumstances behind the decision to inoculate PSG members and who is the source of the unregulated anti-COVID-19 vaccine.

Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra on Monday directed NBI chief Eric Distor to probe the unauthorized distribution and administration of unregistered Sinopharm vaccines for possible violation of the FDA laws, the Consumer Act, the Medical Practice Act, among others.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight