Speaker Alan Cayetano on Wednesday lauded the Senate for coming up with its version of the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program Act that was passed by the House of Representatives last month.
The Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 1520 or the Doctor Para sa Bayan Act.
The bills offers financial assistance to deserving Filipino students who intend to pursue a medical degree.
“We appreciate the unanimous approval of the proposed medical scholarship bill in the Senate. I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate during the bicameral conference committee,” said Cayetano.
He added: “I have no doubt that we will be able to do so cooperatively and efficiently as this is a very timely and important piece of legislation.”
The House and Senate versions of the bill both provide financial assistance to deserving medical students such as free tuition and other school fees; allowance for prescribed books, supplies, and equipment; clothing and uniform allowance; allowance for dormitory or boarding house accommodation; and transportation allowance.
Also included are internship fees, including financial assistance during the required internship period; medical board review fees and licensure fees; annual medical insurance; and other subsistence or living allowances.
Cayetano said the proposed program is part of the government’s efforts to encourage aspiring Filipino health and medical professionals to serve the country.
“We hope the program will encourage them to serve and give back to the people, especially our kababayans who cannot afford costly medical services or access the healthcare system, and help improve our doctor-patient ratio to rebuild the system,” he said.
Cayetano also said the approval of the bill is “a step closer to strengthening the country’s healthcare system and intensifying support for the health sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Under the both versions of the bill, an applicant must have the following qualifications:
a) a natural-born or naturalized Filipino citizen residing in the Philippines;
b) graduating from or be a graduate of an undergraduate program identified as a prerequisite for a Doctor of Medicine degree;
c) has passed the entrance examinations for admission into a Doctor of Medicine degree in any state university or college or private higher education institution; and
d) has obtained a National Medical Admission Test score mandated by the Commission on Higher Education and the SUC/PHEI.
In addition, the Senate version stipulates that the applicant’s family income must not be sufficient to support medical education.