The operational guidelines that would allow the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to remit billions of pesos to the Department of Health (DOH) for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program are being finalized, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained that the guidelines would only need the signatures of Pagcor and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
“Ang mabuting balita, dahil siyempre tinanong natin ang DOH, eh mayroon na naman daw silang napagkasunduan, ng DOH at ng PhilHealth at nag-aantay na ito ng signature ng PCSO at Pagcor (The good news is, because we asked the DOH, they have arrived at an agreement, the DOH and PhilHealth, and they’re only waiting for the signature of PCSO and Pagcor),” he said.
Roque, one of the principal authors of the UHC bill in Congress, vowed to ensure that the law that grants health coverage for all Filipinos would be properly implemented.
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala. Habang buhay po ako, sisiguraduhin nating mapatupad nang tama iyong Universal Health Care na ating sinulong. Promise po iyan (Don’t worry. So long as I’m alive, I’ll make sure that the Universal Health Care, which I championed, will be implemented),” he added.
Under the UHC law, half of the national government’s share from Pagcor’s income, as well as 40 percent of the charity fund of the PCSO, should be used to fund the program.
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson earlier criticized the DOH for failing to craft the guidelines that would allow billions of pesos from Pagcor to be remitted to the UHC program.
“Nanghihinayang kasi ako sa PHP17 billion, kasi without the operational guidelines, nasa Bureau of Treasury lang ‘yung remittance ng Pagcor, ‘yung share ng government (I feel bad about the PHP17 billion because without the operational guidelines, the remittances of Pagcor are stuck at the Bureau of Treasury),” he said.
With the guidelines now finished, the next step is for the departments of budget and finance to review the documents.
The UHC law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens, including overseas Filipino workers in PhilHealth, which will have an expanded coverage to include free consultation fees, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services.
“The law guarantees equitable access to quality and affordable health care services for all Filipinos,” Duterte said in his speech.
It also aims to improve the doctor-to-patient ratio, upgrade hospital bed capacities and equipment, and establish more hospitals in remote areas. (PNA)