President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law four bills seeking to establish and upgrade local hospitals in the country.

The newly-signed measures are Republic Act No. (RA) 11702, which establishes the Southern Luzon Multi-Specialty Medical Center in Tayabas City; RA 11703 which establishes the Samar Island Medical Center in Calbayog City; and RA 11705 which establishes the Ilocos Sur Medical Center in Candon City.

Duterte also signed RA 11704 which increases the bed capacity of the Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center (DPJGMRMC) in Cabanatuan City from 400 to 1,000 beds.

DPJGMRMC is home to a Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop where indigent patients and those who are financially incapacitated can avail of financial and medical assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Under the law, the existing professional health care services and facilities of the DPJGMRMC are also upgraded to conform with and be commensurate with the increase in bed capacity.

The existing workforce of the DPJGMRMC, which includes doctors, nurses, and support personnel, must also be increased correspondingly.

The Secretary of the DOH, must, after consultation with the chief of the DPJGMRMC, and in coordination with the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management and the Commissioner of the Civil Service Commission, determine the additional new positions to be created and filled up.

All laws were signed on Saturday and copies of the documents were released to reporters on Monday.

In a press statement, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded Duterte for signing these laws meant to improve the delivery of healthcare services in various parts of the country.

“The necessity to equip and upgrade our government health institutions is underscored as we face the Covid-19 pandemic. It is also our responsibility as legislators to push for measures to address the lack of adequate facilities and equipment in our government hospitals, particularly at these critical times,” Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said. (PNA)