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Railroaded! Lagman blasts House carbon copy of Senate’s Malasakit Center bill

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has chided the House leadership for adopting the Senate version of a proposed legislation that would institutionalize Malasakit Centers in every state-run hospital in the country.

Lagman’s remarks came in response to the second reading passage of House Bill No. 5547—wherein all hospitals being managed by the Department of Health (DOH) will be mandated to stage Malasakit Centers were indigents patients would be able to access medical and financial programs from various government Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Lagman scored the leadership of the Lower House since HB 5477 was allegedly “railroaded” with only a handful of representatives present in the Plenary during Wednesday’s proceeding.

Lagman stressed that Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, the presiding officer during Wednesday’s session “deliberately,” refused to acknowledge House members who wanted to introduce individual amendments and/or question the lack of quorum.

The Albay solon got irked after it turned out that the substitute bill that created HB 5477 “was a carbon copy of Senate Bill No. 1076” authored by Senator Cristopher “Bong” Go which was previously approved on final reading last November 11.

“The approval on second reading of the Malasakit substitute bill to HB No. 5477 was railroaded,” he said.

Lagman has accused the House leadership that the reason why the so-called “copycat” version of the Senate was made as the basis of the substitute bill is to “preclude” a bicameral conference committee hearing.

Lagman noted that not even Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, chair of the Committee on Health, “was given an advance copy of the substitute bill.”

“The substitute bill was neither submitted to nor approved by the sponsoring health committee,” said Lagman.

“The few representatives present in the session hall were not accorded adequate opportunity to peruse the substitute bill even as the debates on second reading,” he added.

The substitute consolidated bill on the Malasaki Center was supposed to 18 separate individual House legislations with provisions differing from Go’s measure, according the Albay solon.

On Wednesday, Lagman accused Go of bypassing the Lower House’s health panel and went directly to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez to have the Senate version which he authored “adopted forthwith by the House” without amendments to foreclose a bicameral conference committee.

The concept of Malasakit Center was staged by Go in 2017 when he was still the top presidential aide.

Lagman earlier questioned the legal basis of PCSO for funding the Malasakit Centers in various areas in the country.

According to Lagman, Malasakit Center is just “political front and a partisan activity” of those who spearheaded the program.

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