COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Parliament has approved a measure seeking to procure an additional P50-million worth of additional oxygen tanks in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

At 4:52 p.m. on Tuesday, August 24, a total of 51 members of the Parliament, both physically and virtually present, unanimously passed the bill on third and final reading.

No Bangsamoro lawmakers voted against BTA Bill 95 or the Oxygen Buffer Stock of 2021.

Members of the Parliament Ziaur-Rahman Adiong, Atty. Nabil Tan, Atty. Ubaida Pacasem and Engr. Baintan Ampatuan principally authored the measure.

Adiong said that the bill would help ensure that provincial hospitals in the region have enough oxygen and ventilators.

He reiterated that the Philippines is dealing with the “third wave” of Covid-19 infection, which has caused major hospitals across the nation, notably the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (AMPC) in Marawi, to reach full bed capacity.

Other medical facilities in the BARMM have already reported high occupancy rates, citing a surge in ventilator use.

“The newly-mutated delta variant should give us an idea on how we should respond quickly to the growing threat of these more infectious and virulent Covid-19 variants,” he said, noting that the bill is intended to prevent further Covid-19 fatalities.

He emphasized that the region could not rely solely on “lockdowns,” but it needed to be prepared to respond rapidly.

The Bangsamoro Parliament, he said, is putting ready resources to good use and can help save lives through the recently enacted measure.

Under the bill, the additional tanks will be equitably distributed in different provinces in the region.

As of August 23, based on the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19, there are a total of 52 new cases in the region.

Ampatuan and Pacasem believed that the region would experience a supply shortage, especially given the recent severity of infection caused by Delta and Lambda variants.

“This is a timely bill barring any unforeseen incidents or events [caused by the pandemic],” Pacasem remarked.

With the bill’s passage, he said, oxygen tank supplies will be available to meet patients’ ventilation demands during their treatment, preventing unnecessary fatalities from the coronavirus. 

In explaining her vote for the bill, Ampatuan said the bill addresses the current situation that the Bangsamoro Region is facing, and it’s a pre-emptive measure to ensure that the region’s medical institutions have enough oxygen.

The fund for the oxygen tanks will be released by the Ministry of Finance of Budget and Management to the Ministry of Health subject to the standard accounting and auditing laws, rules, and regulations. (Publication and Media Relation Division)

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