Cancer Care Bill Passes Both Senate and the House

Published December 15, 2018, 4:37 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

By Deedee M. Siytangco

Pamana,” an art exhibit of the works of E. R. Tagle, also known as Ernie, and his sons George and Eric, is still ongoing at the Got Heart Gallery in White Plains, Katipunan, Quezon City.

Tagle’s sons have different painting styles that they learned from their dad E. R. but all three have impressive, colorful works on exhibit. Ernie Tagle has helped hundreds of street children by teaching them how to paint and by holding exhibits for them. He also started a movement, which he called “Positivism” and, for this, he convinced then President Cory Aquino to declare a “Positivism Week” and even had her paint a fish (Ernie’s signature on his paintings and sculptures) in one of his unfinished paintings. This was followed up by president Fidel Ramos too.

At the intimate opening, the guests were treated to the talented artists’ art. The friends of George, who is also the lead singer of The Angelos, had an impromptu musical presentation. There were tenors Jonathan Badon and Miguel Aguila and sopranos Sheena Lee and Decena Madona.

The ribbon cutters were DOH assistant secretary Dr. Eric Tayag, businessman and columnist Andrew Masigan, gallery owner and director Freddie Santos, Quezon City councilor Gian Soto, Melissa Yeung Yap, and Benjie Yap.

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The Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF) launched an online video of the late former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in time for the commemoration of his 86th birthday last Nov. 27.

According to Rapa Lopa, head of NCAF, the video aims to remind the people and the new generation of Filipinos about the courage of Ninoy Aquino and how his sacrifice became a driving force for change that ended the reign of oppression and corruption of the Marcos dictatorship.

“Now more than ever, we need the inspiration of Ninoy’s life and death as our country goes through uncertain times,” said Lopa. Lopa said the former senator was incarcerated for seven years and seven months during the martial law period, but his passion to serve the country and fight for the freedom of the Filipino people never wavered.

“It was a dark time in our country and a dark time in his own personal journey, but he remained steadfast in his quest to fight the dictatorship and restore the democracy that we enjoy today,” Lopa said.

During his time of incarceration, Lopa said Ninoy found God in the lowest moments of his life. It was during those difficult times when he heeded the call to courageously love our country and its people and to faithfully live the Lord’s commandment to “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

“We hope that Filipinos draw inspiration and the courage from Ninoy as we go through the daily challenges that life presents,” Lopa said.

Florin “Pilo” Hilbay, senatorial aspirant and former solicitor general who distinguished his service during his term, said of our hero, “Ninoy Aquino’s great contribution was also his death, an important trigger in the return of democracy in our country. Every Filipino who has the courage to risk his life for our country is a hero and Ninoy’s sacrifice is a shining example!”

Mabuhay ka Pilo! The Aquino Museum in Tarlac City is open to visitors.

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Access to affordable and free cancer prevention programs, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care for patients with any kind of cancer in any stage may soon be a reality.

In an unprecedented move, the Senate recently approved Senate Bill 1850, commonly known as the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, with a unanimous vote of 18-0. The bill, principally authored by senators JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, and Loren Legarda, aims to institutionalize a national integrated cancer control program in the country.

“It is high time that we give hope to cancer patients. As the sponsor and one of the authors of the measure, I consider the bill as an imperative effort to address the gap in the government’s cancer program,” said Ejercito. “The approval of this measure will really provide hope to every Filipino who suffered long enough in battling cancer on their own. Today, we give them something to look forward to.”

CELEBRATORY Clockwise from top left: Ninoy and Cory Aquino; Cancer Coalition co-chair Kara Magsanoc Alikpala joins members of the House after the passage of the Cancer Care bill; and the exhibit opening, with (from left) Andrew Marasigan, E.R. Tagle, Benjie Yap, Coun. Gian Sotto, Melissa Yeung Yap, Asec. Dr. Eric Tayag, and Eric Tagle

With the Senate approval, the House of Representatives deliberated on the different provisions of the bill and passed it pronto! House health committee chair and congresswoman of the 4th district in Quezon province, Helen Tan, was confident her colleagues would support the bill. “I think every member of the house would like to see help come in the way to any cancer patient. We hope to secure a swift passage,” she said.

And they did. Congratulations to the House leadership under speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

Alfred Vargas, congressman of the 5th district in Quezon City and one of the principal authors, said, “No person deserves to suffer terribly from cancer. No family should undergo such challenges without the effective support of government and society. It’s time to wake up and fight cancer together, thus the passage of this bill is of utmost importance.”

On its part, Cancer Coalition Philippines, the national network advocating for the elimination of barriers to cancer care, hopes for the immediate passage and subsequent approval of the law.

In a statement shared by the coalition on its social media site, it said, “The swift approval reflects the value legislators place on persons, with cancer, of any stage, age, gender, and income bracket. We laud the commitment of the senate and the house to a basic human right–the right to life. The state of the nation can only be as good as the state of its people’s health and well-being. With cancer as the number two cause of death for adults and children and with projections pointing to an 80 percent increase of cancer incidence in 12 years, its immediate passage was of utmost importance.”

“We see patients every day and they have been hoping to see this bill passed. We thank the current congress for their swift action,” added Dr. Ramon Severino, co-chair. “So we can proceed to bicam to align all the provisions and have a bill that will truly enable all the cancer control programs of the country.”

There are nearly 150,000 new cases of cancer every year. Only 40 percent of that figure will survive. The top five cancers in the Philippines are breast, lung, colon, liver, prostate, and cervical.

Congratulations to co-chair of the coalition Kara Magsanoc Alikpala and cancer advocateand all the warriors of the cause, survivors, patients, and their families!