In a joint hearing on Tuesday, the House Committees on Government Reorganization and Health approved the consolidation of seven bills seeking to create the National Cancer Center of the Philippines (NCCP) and four bills for the establishment of a National Center for Geriatric Health and Research Institute (NCGHRI).
Committee on Government Reorganization Chairperson Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde (Party list, BUHAY) said the first set of bills seeks for the establishment and maintenance of a cancer center in the country.
Velarde said authors of the seven measures share the common goal to help indigent cancer patients and their families, especially those in Regions 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 which have the highest prevalence of cancer incidence in the country.
Velarde said the proponents also believe that institutional intervention can be very well implemented in the most effective and efficient manner.
Meanwhile, Velarde said authors of the second set of bills are in unison to help all senior citizens especially the vulnerable elderly afflicted by generative communicable and life threatening diseases.
Committee on Health Vice Chairperson Rep. Tricia Velasco-Catera (Party list, MATA) said the seven bills provide for the creation of a Board of Trustees which shall implement policies and adopt measures to carry out the mandate of the measures, among others.
“This is very timely, indeed. However, may I refer to the joint committee the provisions of the bicameral committee report on Senate Bill 1850 and House Bill 8636 on the institutionalization of a National Integrated Cancer Control Program. The report was forwarded to the Office of the President on January 17, 2019 for his signature. It will soon to be a law,” said Velasco-Catera.
Velasco-Catera said the bicam-approved bill provides for the establishment of a National Cancer Center to be under the supervision of the Health Secretary and headed by an Executive Director.
The bill also provides for the designation of other comprehensive specialty cancer centers in high risk area outside Metro Manila, she said.
“In behalf of the Chairperson of the Committee on Health, I am grateful that we are prioritizing the health care needs of our people,” said Velasco-Catera.
Rep. Joel Mayo Almario (2nd District, Davao Oriental), said there are currently four specialty hospitals under the Department of Health (DOH) namely, Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), Philippine Heart Center (PHC), National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), and Philippine Children’s Medical Hospital (PCMH).
Almario said cancer patients go to these hospitals as there is currently no hospital primarily focused and specializing on the treatment of cancer per se.
“It is proposed that the NCCP be constructed beside the LCP because aside from its central location in Metro Manila and its proximity to the four specialty hospitals, the land is vacant and has been utilized only as a parking lot since the former LCP wing was razed by fire in the 1990s,” said Almario.
However, he said it must be noted that the NCCP will be an entity completely separate and different from the LCP. With the construction of the NCCP, the LCP is envisioned to focus on respiratory and pulmonary diseases, while the NCCP is targeted towards all types of cancer, said Almario.
“Now more than ever, there is a need to establish the NCCP because of the growing and alarming epidemic of cancer. It must be prioritized as cancer has now become the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country,” said Almario.
Almario cited a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Genetics which cited that 189 of every 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer, while four die of cancer every hour or 96 fatalities each day.
“However, as it is now, Filipino patients who can afford go to other countries like Singapore, Hongkong and Thailand for diagnosis and treatment if needed, while those who do not have the means simply suffer and die,” said Almario.
Almario found as important the proposal-letter from Doctors Antonio Ramos, Sergio Andres Jr., Teresa Alcantara and Jose Luis Danguilan, who are practicing doctors at the LCP, to build the other wing of the LCP as the NCCP.
“These documents speak of the exact location and even the exact amount needed. This is very important because as we all know, we are wrapping up the 17th Congress. Its already given that we will not find it, if I may say, that it will not become into law,” said Almario.
However, he said the committee can make representation with Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in requesting President Rodrigo Duterte to include P3.6 billion in building the NCCP hospital.
Almario said that they are proposing the initial outlay of P292 million for the design and engineering plans.
“So, eto Mr. Chair and Madam Chair, these will now concretize all the aspirations and the desire of the authors for the establishment of the National Cancer Center of the Philippines,” said Almario.
All resource persons, Dr. Miguel Ramos of the National Center for Geriatric Health, Shelly Ann Dela Vega of UP Manila, Oscar Ricaflanca and Agustinus Koli from the private sector supported the creation of the NCCP.
Other lawmakers present during the hearing were Reps. Maria Lourdes Aggabao, Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay and Paul Hernandez.