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Bill to create Medical Reserve Corps being pushed in Congress

Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Raul Daza has batted for the creation of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in a bid to institutionalize the essential role of medical and health personnel in nation building, especially during times of emergencies and pandemics.

MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

Daza filed House Bill No. 7274 or the proposed “Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020” which seeks to tap Filipino citizens who have degrees in the field of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields, but have yet to have their respective licenses to practice, and/or awaiting licensure examinations in their respective professions to augment the country’s human health resources in times of disasters and health emergencies.

“Given the urgent requirements for healthcare workers as well as the benefit of employment-based approach to the country’s economic recovery program, it is then necessary that the government provides mechanisms such as a Medical Reserve Corps system—that will allow us to employ new graduates and other qualified professionals in the medical fields,” he said in his bill’s explanatory note.

“Moreover, a Medical Reserve Corps system will ultimately help promote a culture of nationalism, patriotism, and volunteerism—values which are critical to recover and nation-building,” he added.

Daza said his proposed MRC shall also be composed of medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health, emergencies, and other necessary services.

“In times of national emergencies, pandemics, and other contingencies, the members of the MRC may be called upon and mobilised to assist the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and the local government in their functions related to the medical and health needs of the public,” it said.

HB 7274 provides that the mobilization shall be initiated by the Secretary of Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the Secretaries of the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Education (DepEd), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)or their duly authorised representatives with a rank of at least Undersecretary.

“On regular basis and during periods of national emergencies and other contingencies, the MRC shall be called for retraining to maintain and enhance its personnel’s level of competency and readiness for public service,” it said,

Under the bill, the DOH is tasked to evaluate the requests for deployment.

If the number of personnel requested does not exceed 150 and the period of deployment does not exceed 60 days, the DOH shall decide whether to approve or disapprove the request within 24 hours from receipt thereof, HB 7274 provides.

If the number of personnel requested exceeds 150 or the period of deployment exceeds 60 days, the DOH shall made a recommendation to the Office of the President (OP) within 24 hours from receipt of the request, it adds.

The OP shall decide whether to approve or disapprove the request within 24 hours from receipt of the recommendation of the DOH, according to the bill.

After the request for deployment is approved, the DOH shall issue an Order of Deployment requiring the MRC, or a number of them, to assist the national government, its agencies, and instrumentalities and the local government units (LGUs) in their functions related to the medical-and health-related needs of the public.

In case of a declaration of a state of war, state of lawless violence, or state of calamity, the DOH may motu proprio recommend the mobilisation of the Corps to the President of the Philippines, under HB 7274.

The Chief Executive, under the proposed Act, shall have the power to order the mobilization of the MRC to respond to national or local contingencies related to external and territorial defense, internal security and peace and order and/or disaster risk reduction management.

For those who failed to respond to the order of deployment despite notice sent to the address and/or contact details on file with the DOH without any justifiable reason shall, upon the conviction by a civil court shall be slapped with the following penalties: 120 hours of community service for first offense; 240 hours of community service for second offense; and six months of imprisonment and 480 hours of community service for third and subsequent offenses.

Villafuerte’s bill seeks the establishment of mobilization centers in each province and city as needed according to the number and geographical distribution of the Corps, where they will report in case of deployment.

The bill also calls for the setting up of a Medical Reserve Corps Fund, which will be exclusively used for the implementation of the proposed Act

The OP shall monitor and evaluate the activities and balances of the Fund, which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The DOH shall formulate and approve the necessary implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act within 30 days from its effectivity.

The implementing rules and regulations shall include provisions on the structure and organisation of the MRC, the specific mechanisms for the efficient mobilization and deployment of the Corps, and such other matters as the DOH may deem necessary or essential to fully implement the objectives of the proposed Act.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/20/bill-to-create-medical-reserve-corps-being-pushed-in-congress/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bill-to-create-medical-reserve-corps-being-pushed-in-congress)

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