DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said that if he wins the presidency, he will require all private hospitals to allocate 20 to 30 beds for the poor for free, with government paying for their hospital bills.
It was a promise he also made the day before in Pasay City, according to a Rappler report, but which he raised again when he met with some 2,000 workers in Mactan on Thursday, February 25.
Duterte’s other campaign pledges included a stronger promotion of family planning methods, both natural and artificial; a review of the government’s health insurance policies; an end to labor contractualization; and a larger share for the Visayas and Mindanao in the national budget.
The mayor and his vice presidential candidate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, also visited yesterday the Lapu-Lapu Shrine and Danao City, in their first campaign stop in Cebu since the presidential debate last Sunday.
Duterte is PDP-Laban’s standard-bearer.
Some private hospitals already operate charity wards, but this is not required of them at present. A law approved in 2007, Republic Act 9439, does prohibit hospitals from detaining patients who have failed to pay their medical bills.
Before the Supreme Court ended the pork barrel funds (known as the Priority Development Assistance Funds and before that, the Countryside Development Fund) in late 2013, a common practice among legislators was to assign a portion of their pork barrel to pay for the hospital bills of poor constituents.
Official statistics show that private sources have outspent the government in terms of health expenses.
In 2013, the National Health Accounts showed that 68 percent of all health expenses (about P359 billion) were paid for by households, private insurance and health maintenance organizations, among others.
Government paid for only 19 percent (about P99 billion), while social insurance covered 11 percent (about P60.4 billion).
Also in yesterday’s visit, Duterte mentioned a need to slow down rapid population growth, especially in families who cannot afford to raise their children decently or send them to school.
If he wins, he said, he will strongly promote family planning—whether artificial or natural—even if it runs counter to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
Under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RA 10354), it is the National Government’s responsibility to provide “reproductive health care, information and supplies, giving priority to boor beneficiaries.”
The law, however, clearly states “there shall be demographic or population targets” and that the promotion of reproductive health is the main target, not the “promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate.”
Duterte also told the bag factory workers that he will stop contractualization because job security is guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution.
In an open forum, the workers told Duterte and Cayetano that the Central Visayas minimum wage of P353 a day was not enough for their families. They cited rising prices of commodities plus deductions of premiums for Pag-IBIG, Philhealth and the Social Security System.
They asked Duterte and Cayetano how they would increase workers’ purchasing power, if elected as president and vice president.
Duterte and Cayetano said this can be done if the cost of living will be decreased, such as through lowering prices of commodities and requiring a rollback of power and water rates.
Cayetano also said he will review the health benefits from Philhealth to make its policies clearer and to limit exemptions.
Duterte said it is high time that voters in the Visayas and Mindanao elected a Bisaya-speaking candidate so they will have a stronger voice in Malacanang.
“The bulk of the country’s budget every year goes to Luzon because in the past decades, the presidents were from Luzon, hence, they were biased for Luzon. I will reverse the situation once I will become president,” Duterte said.
As for the campaign against illegal drugs, Duterte again warned police officers who protect drug lords and drug traffickers to stop their illegal activities or they will be charged in court or killed.
Duterte then went to Danao City for what he called a homecoming of sorts. His family originally came from Danao.
The mayor said he was surprised to be welcomed by thousands of people on the grounds of the Cebu Technological University.
“I am a Danaoanon. I am sure you will be proud if I will become president,” Duterte told the crowd. He also quipped: “Mabuhay ang paltik sa Danao (Long live the gunmaking industry in Danao).”