MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Saturday defended Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s proposed re-nationalization and expansion of public hospitals.

This, after Go and Senator Minority Leader Franklin Drilon recently clashed over proposed measures that will obligate the national government to fund several needs of public hospitals amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Go, chairperson of the Senate committee on health, accused Drilon of delaying the passage of his hospital expansion bills after the latter raised concerns over the plan to compel the national government to shoulder the funding of public hospitals.

Panelo, during his commentary show “Counterpoint,” backed Go, saying the lawmaker merely wants to improve the public hospitals’ healthcare services amid the pandemic.

“Klarung-klaro naman ang mga pangangailangan natin. Ang mga hospital, kailangan ng mga bagong equipment (The hospitals’ needs are very clear. They need new equipment),” he said. “Kailangan talaga ng alalay ng national government (They really need the national government’s support). Kaya ‘yung ibang mga panukalang batas (That’s why the bills), they try to rationalize and expand public hospitals).”

During the Senate’s interpellation of Go’s proposed hospital expansion measures, Drilon said health services have been devolved to the local government units (LGUs) under the Local Government Code.

Go, who moved to terminate the interpellation of the bills he was sponsoring, reasoned that LGU cannot shoulder the cost of building hospitals, hence, the national government must step in to help in the construction of health facilities.

Drilon rejected Go's insinuation that he is delaying the passage of the bills, saying his concerns in terms of governance policies are legitimate.

Panelo sided with Go and was convinced that Drilon is merely sowing “conflict” to delay the passage of Go’s sponsored measures.

“Ang punto lang ni Senator Bong Go, tapusin na natin ang mga debateng iyan, madaliin niyo na iyan nang mapasa na iyan para yung mga ospital eh maimprove na natin yung mga kakayahan nila, yung mga capability nila (Senator Bong Go’s position is to conclude the debates. And hasten the passage of the bills to improve hospitals’ services and capability,” he said.

Panelo also hoped for the immediate passage of Go’s hospital expansion bills.

“Basta suportahan niyo si Senator Bong Go at maganda ang mga panukala nito. Ito ay talagang ang puso nito ay isipan ay para sa bayan (Let us support Senator Bong Go because his proposed measure is good. He is doing that for the country),” he said. (PNA)