By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate has approved on third and final reading the proposed P1.16-billion supplemental appropriation for the victims of the government’s botched anti-dengue program.
It was Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, who sponsored the bill which seeks to establish a medical assistance program for the Dengvaxia vaccinees.
The Senate approved the measure, under Committee Report No. 395, on House Bill No. 7449, with 18 votes, zero negative votes.
The measure was certified as urgent by the Duterte administration. The funds would be sourced from the P1.16-billion refund given to the Philippine government by the French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur earlier this year.
Based on the proposal by the Department of Health (DOH), the fund shall be used for the medical assistance program which includes assistance for admitted patients in hospitals and for outpatients; for the assessment and monitoring of Dengvaxia vaccinees; for the supplies and medicine to be used by the vaccinees; and for human resource deployment.
During her sponsorship speech of the measure, Legarda said the National Treasurer has certified that the funds are actually available in the National Treasury, in compliance with Section 25(4), Article VI of the Constitution.
“Dengvaxia was originally intended to help reduce, if not eradicate, the dengue incidents in the country, and it was most unfortunate that the public was not informed of its accompanying risks,” Legarda said in her sponsorship of the bill.
“Let us earnestly hope that this health assistance program will not be too late in terms of making sure that we keep our children, most specially, safe and healthy,” she also stressed.