Solon highlights importance of MRC bill as COVID persists

Published February 12, 2022, 10:11 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte has underscored the importance of the legislative measure pushing for the expansion of the Philippine Medical Reserve Corps or MRC.

(Martin Sanchez/ Unsplash)

“With global health experts confirming that this won’t be our last pandemic, we must continue to strengthen our healthcare system starting with the people who will man the frontlines in our fight against the next global health crisis,” Villafuerte said, referring to the persisting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives is one of the principal authors of the Medical Reserve Corps Act.

He pointed out that the House had already approved the proposed measure earlier this year, but its counterpart bill remains pending at the committee level in the Senate.

Aside from helping prepare the country for future public health emergencies, the proposed MRC may also be mobilized during times of calamities to provide immediate aid during rescue and relief operations, said Villafuerte.

Under House Bill (HB) No. 8999, the MRC will be composed of licensed physicians, medicine graduates, medical students, registered nurses and other allied health professionals, including those who have retired and are no longer practicing in the hospital setting.

The President of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH), may also order the mobilization of the MRC to complement the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Medical Corps “in case of the declaration of a state of war, state of lawless violence or state of calamity”.

The bill provides that members of the MRC be covered by labor laws and entitled to “all the pay and allowances, medical care, hospitalization and other privileges and benefits” during their deployment, and receive all their existing benefits from their regular jobs during the mobilization period.

Villafuerte said the measure seeks to uphold the role of medical and health-related personnel in nation-building.

“Being involved in the frontlines of a public health emergency is a patriotic act, and the reserve corp’s vital role necessitate that their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being are protected,” the Bicol solon said.