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Duterte signs Universal Health Care Act, Revised Corporation Code


By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte on Wednesday signed the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act and the Revised Corporation Code, hailing them as laws that will improve the lives of the people in the country.

“The laws passed today will surely make a positive impact in the lives of our people,” he said at the ceremonial signing of the two laws in Malacañang.

President Duterte signs the Universal Healthcare Law at the Malacañan Palace. The law will cover free consultation, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services that are beneficial to Filipinos, especially the poor and the marginalized. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte signs the Universal Healthcare Law at the Malacañan Palace. The law will cover free consultation, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services that are beneficial to Filipinos, especially the poor and the marginalized. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Duterte lauded the UHC Act which automatically enrolls all Filipinos to PhilHealth.

“By automatically [enrolling] our citizens into the National Health Insurance Program and expanding PhilHealth coverage to include free medical consultations and laboratory tests, the Universal Healthcare Law that I signed today will guarantee equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all Filipinos,” he said.

Among the significant reforms that will be implemented over time because of the UHC Act are the automatic enrollment of all Filipinos to PhilHealth, designating PhilHealth as the national purchaser for health goods and services, improvement of health facilities, especially in underserved areas, responding to the gap in health workers, strategic engagement of the private sector, and creating and expanding new functions in the Department of Health (DOH) to improve delivery of health services.

The UHC Act also operationalizes primary health care and mainstreams health promotion to protect people from disease, empowers individuals and communities to maintain good health, and supports effective management of illness and disability.

The DOH also welcomed the signing of the UHC Act, saying the new law will also shift the health system’s current treatment-oriented approach toward a more balanced approach emphasizing prevention and health promotion.

Revised Corporation Code

During his speech, Duterte also lauded the Revised Corporation Code which seeks to simplify corporate governance standards and establish a more business-friendly environment that will enable corporations and other juridical entities to thrive.

The law provides for perpetual existence of a corporation, removes the minimum capital requirement, and allows a one-person corporation.
The revised Code also removed the minimum number of incorporators, allows the electronic filing of reportorial requirements and attendance in meetings via remote communication or in absentia – two key provisions that were not recognized in the old law (Batas Pambansa Bilang 68).

UHC funding

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that the government will be able to find a source to fund the implementation of the new law.

Panelo gave the assurance after the DOH said it still need P40 billion to implement the UHC in its first year.

“Kung ang project mo 10 projects in one year, eh, kung hindi mo naman kayang pondohan, di medyo i-reduce mo na muna. Kumbaga, pagkakasiyahin muna natin until such time na dumating iyong pondo (If you have 10 projects in one year but you can’t fund them all, maybe we would have to first make adjustments until such time that there is enough fund),” he said.

“Gradual ang implementation, pero mayroon pa namang ano (The implementation would be gradual but)… there are many ways to augment the resources. I’m sure our government will know how to source funds in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.

According to Panelo, increasing the contribution for PhilHealth is one idea that the government is open to exploring.

“Pag-aaralan lahat iyan kung ano ang makakabuti sa ating mga kababayan kaugnay sa kanilang kalusugan (We will look into every idea that can promote the welfare of our citizens, especially their health),” he said.

Relationship with Congress

Duterte thanked Congress for working hand-in-hand with the Executive Department in fulfilling the legislative goals of the Duterte administration that no, hopefully, no Filipino would be left behind.

“The passage of these laws attests to how much the government can achieve when the executive and legislative branches work hand in hand in achieving a common legislative agenda,” he said.

“I hope that Congress will continue to be our steadfast partner in enacting laws that will significantly improve the lives of our people, especially those who need it,” he added.

“Let us all work together in enabling our countrymen to lead more meaningful, productive, peaceful, and prosperous lives that we all deserve,” he continued.

Laws presented

Duterte also lauded the Social Security Act of 2018 which expands the investing capacity of the Social Security Commission, enabling the SSS to generate better income for members and pensioners.

The Amendment to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter would strengthen the BSP’s financial stability and grant it more flexibility in the exercise of its regulatory powers.

“The amendment comes at a fitting time when the BSP is remitting to the national government partial dividends amounting to P4 billion. This will come a long way [in] funding priority programs of the administration,” Duterte said.

The Philippine Sports Training Center Act, which was also presented Wednesday, would establish a center for athletic development that will help maximize the potential and competitiveness of our local athletes.

The Act Reapportioning the Province of Southern Leyte will help ensure an even more adequate representation in Congress, enabling government to address the needs of the constituents from the two other legislative districts.

Duterte said he is hoping that the new law would promote peace and order in that province.

“I hope the last incident of shooting down a helicopter of your opponent will be the last violence in that province,” he said.

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