MANILA - President Aquino on Monday said health services under his administration are now above political patronage, months after the administration abolished the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.
The PDAF had been used to fund medical benefits granted at the discretion of lawmakers to their chosen constituents.
The PDAF was abolished after news about the pork barrel scam broke, with a commitment by the Executive to absorb the displaced beneficiaries of PDAF projects in education, health and labor.
Aquino spoke Monday morning at the launching of a multi-sectoral advocacy campaign dubbed as "Alaga Ka para sa Maayos na Buhay" or simply ALAGA KA in order to provide the country's 14.7 million indigent families with greater access to primary health care services.
The President said that under the old system, government health services were used for political patronage.
"Parang kailan lang po, naging kasangkapan ang sistemang pangkalusugan para pairalin ang sistemang padrino. Ang kailangan ng kalinga at gamot, dadaan pa sa kung kani-kanino para mag-umang ng palad. Ngayon, nakatutok na ang inyong gobyerno sa pagbibigay-lingap sa ating mamamayan bilang sandigan ng kanilang marangal at maayos na pamumuhay. Ngayon, ang sektor ng kalusugan, buong-buo ang pakikiambag tungo sa malawakang kaunlaran," he said.
Aquino believes that greater access to health services will compel Filipinos to ensure that there will be no return to the old patronage system in accessing medical services.
"Sa yugtong ito kung saan naipagkakaloob na natin ang mga makabuluhang serbisyo para sa ating mga Boss, kompiyansa tayong sila na mismo ang gagawa ng paraan upang siguruhing hindi na tayo babalik sa dating sistema; na patuloy silang makikiambag at gagawa ng pagbabago."
Aquino hopes that the PhilHealth project will greatly benefit some 14.7 million indigent families who suffer from poor health due to inadequate knowledge about health services.
He said the project gives micronutrient supplements, maternal and neonatal care packages, TB treatment packages and family planning services to poor Filipinos.
The President said he is counting on local government units to support the project.
The National Heath Insurance Program was established to provide health insurance coverage and ensure affordable, acceptable, available and accessible health care services for all citizens of the Philippines.
The program shall include a sustainable system of funds constitution, collection, management and disbursement for financing the availment of a basic minimum package and other supplementary packages of health insurance benefit by a progressively expanding proportion of the population.
The program shall be limited to paying for the utilization of health services by covered beneficiaries.
It shall be prohibited from providing health care directly, from buying and dispensing drugs and pharmaceuticals, from employing physicians and other professionals for the purpose of directly rendering care, and from owning or investing in health care facilities.