BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Amid questions over source of funds for the Bacolod City General Hospital, Lone District Cong. Greg Gasataya says he is happy the measures inspired by his mother are being realized one after the other.
The solon considers as his latest achievement the passage by the Senate yesterday of its counterpart measure for House Bill 6731 providing for the construction of the Bacolod City General Hospital that he describes as a “landmark” piece of legislation.
Gasataya said he hopes the Senate measure will be approved by next week, May 31 in the Upper House plenary that will vote on his measure.
A simple majority or 13 out of 24 senators are needed to pass the bill that was co-sponsored by Sen. Lawrence Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the committee on health, and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri who has roots here.
Apart from the BCGH bill, Gasataya had also successfully steered two other bills through the Lower House, and mustered support for it in the Upper House – one expanding to 1,000 beds the capacity of the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, the tertiary level government-run medical facility here; and the other a law for the building of a heart, lung, and kidney center.
The solon’s mother, Thelma Gelvosa, a church worker, died of a kidney ailment when he was still young.
Ilonggo to the rescue
The support of Ilonggo solons proved crucial in the Lower House for Gasataya’s measure to pass.
Apart from Zubiri, whose father hails from Kabankalan City south from here, another Ilonggo, Sen. Franklin Drilon, also backed the bill by securing funding for the BCGH construction, and the upgrade of eight other hospitals aside from the construction of four more.
Drilon, an opposition solon, secured a total of P4.8 billion in funds, including the P600 million for the BCGH.
Government-run station PTV reported “Drilon compelled the Department of Budget and Management to fund the upgrade of nine hospitals in the 2022 General Appropriations Act under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP),” it reported on its website.
The report quoted Drilon as saying “The funding of these hospitals will be hanging in the air if there’s no specific appropriation cover. We recognize the need for these hospitals, especially during this pandemic. Hence, we insisted that funding should be included in the measures. “
“Otherwise, these will become unfunded mandates. It will be just a lip service if we pass this without corresponding appropriation,” he added.
The report went on to ssy that:
Drilon proposed P8 million for the Lying-In Clinic in Rizal, Palawan; P200 million for the capital outlay of the Naguilian Hospital in La Union; P200 million for the Rosario District Hospital in La Union; P200 million for the Sinait District Hospital in Sinait, Ilocos Sur; and P600 million for the capital outlay of the Bacolod City General Hospital in Bacolod City.
In addition, Drilon proposed funding for the establishment of four Department of Health hospitals.
These include P900 million each for Eastern Pangasinan Regional Medical and Trauma Center in Rosales, Pangasinan; Davao Occidental General Hospital in Davao Occidental; Senate President Neptali Gonzales Hospital in Mandaluyong; and Medina Extension Hospital in Misamis Oriental.
The Senate embraced all of Drilon’s amendments, especially the funding for the upgrade of hospitals.
“I am proposing this because I don’t want to disappoint our people. We will pass a law which will add hospital beds and, yet, there is no fund to back it up,” Drilon said. “Our amendments will make the health facilities improvement more credible because there is a corresponding appropriation.”