House leader to prioritize funding for vaccines, healthcare

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

June 29, 2021, 7:05 pm

MANILA – Deputy Speaker Marlyn Alonte on Tuesday said the House of Representatives would ensure the availability of funds for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines and funding of the health care system amid the global pandemic.

Alonte said this would be one of her priorities for the third regular session as she aims to help iron out any problems hampering the execution of the Covid-19 responses.

"The continuing specter of the Covic-19 pandemic continues to cast its dark shadow over the country," Alonte said. "I, for one, will keep on working with the lead implementers of the anti-Covid responses and with the economic managers to generate the funds needed so all Filipinos get vaccinated sooner rather than later as prioritized by President Duterte."

Alonte noted that the vaccination of those younger than 18 would be given "special importance" because funds must be sourced to procure the vaccines so they can return to their schools at the soonest possible time.

"They too are suffering from being restricted to their homes for their safety from Covid," she said.

Alonte said special focus should also be given to address the rising unemployment and the slowdown of the economy, arguing that the pandemic has worsened the unemployment problems and kept many businesses shut.

She said job creation programs must be put in place and ready for implementation through the proposed 2022 national budget.

"We will listen to the administration’s economic team and to the labor and business sectors as well," she said.

She said she would monitor the progress of relevant bills, seeking to grant the President of the Philippines to suspend the scheduled increase in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) premium rates, and a measure expanding the coverage of the mandatory basic immunization program.

Other bills that Alonte would prioritize include the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE Philippines) bill, Disaster Resilience bill, and freelance workers protection bill, among others.

"It is my hope the hard work and time invested in these bills will bear much fruit and free the country of the heavyweights brought by Covid and its impact," she said. "I am also hopeful other important bills also get enacted soon to solve long-standing problems and make 2022 the recovery year of the Philippines." (PNA)