Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has expressed hope that the government’s proposed financial subsidy for medical scholars under the 2021 national budget won’t suffer a budget cut.
Recto also said he hopes that President Duterte would sign the Medical Scholarship bill into law next month so that the required funds for its immediate implementation can still be included in next year’s national budget.
The senator proposed that the medical scholarship program be named after former Sen. Juan Flavier who pushed for the Doctors to the Barrios program when he became Health Secretary and lawmaker.
“But before we attach his great name to a great program, let us first make sure that the law’s maiden year of implementation is not marked by a budget cut,” Recto said,
Malacañang has proposed to halve this year’s P167-million financial subsidy to 1,789 medical scholars to P83.5 million next year. The amount is reflected under the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) proposed 2021 budget.
CHED officials earlier lamented that this year’s P167-million financial stipend to medical scholars in eight state universities has been embargoed, impounded “for later release,” and tomorrow would be “cut,” Recto noted.
The senator said it is imperative that the government is able to sustain funding for its own medical scholarship program to boost the country’s need for more medical professionals.
“More or less, the CHED and DoH (Department of Health) tracks have a combined 3,000 beneficiaries,” he said.
“Dagdagan pa natin ito by including financially challenged but academically excelling medicine students in private schools,” he added.
Apart from Flavier, Recto said the program can also be named after the names of great Filipino doctors. For instance, he said, one region can name the scholarship grant after Eastern Visayas’ Dr. Bobby dela Paz – a University of the Philippines- Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) doctor who left a potentially lucrative big city practice to run a primary health care program until he was assassinated inside his Catbalogan City, Samar clinic in April 1982.
The medical scholarship program, he said, can also be named after the so-called “COVID-19 heroes.”
“Naming scholarship programs after people who distinguished themselves in a profession is done in many countries,” Recto said.
“But unlike the Fulbright scholarship in the US and the Rhodes in England, our medical scholarship will not be named after benefactors, but after Filipino role models.”