MANILA – The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on third and final reading a measure proposing the creation of a medical reserve corps that can be tapped during public health emergencies.
With 195 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed House Bill 8999, which aims to organize a group of trained and equipped medical and health-related personnel for rapid mobilization during national or local public health emergencies which require manpower support to reinforce and strengthen the existing capabilities of the national agencies or local government units (LGUs).
The measure is one of the priority bills that President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to pass during his 5th State-of-the-Nation Address in July last year.
Under the bill, the proposed Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) shall be composed of persons who are licensed physicians, medical students who have completed their four years of medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professional who may be called upon to assist the national government, its agencies, and instrumentalities, and the LGUs in the discharge of their functions in addressing the medical needs of the public.
The measure seeks to grant the President the power to mobilize the MRC nationwide in case of a declaration of a state of war, a state of lawless violence, or a state of calamity.
The Department of Health shall be mandated to promulgate the specific mechanisms by which deployment is efficiently implemented, including the organization of the Corps to be deployed, their territorial assignments, how deployment orders are communicated to each member of the Corps, and to which mobilization centers they will report to.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shall be enlisted to provide expertise on the organization of the MRC for efficient, effective, and swift deployment, as well as training to the recruits in disaster and emergency response.
The AFP shall also complement the MRC logistics and manpower for large-scale operations in times of disasters or other public health emergencies.
Mobilization centers shall be established in every province and city as needed based on the number and geographic distribution of the Corps. (PNA)