COTABATO CITY – As a representative of the indigenous communities on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, Member of the Parliament Froilyn Mendoza introduced a bill that would upgrade the existing South Upi Municipal Hospital in Maguindanao del Sur.
The Parliament Bill No. 120 aims to upgrade the 10-bed South Upi Municipal Hospital to 50 beds.
For 30 years, the hospital has been providing medical care to the residents of South Upi and the adjacent barangays in Upi, Maguindanao, and Lebak in Sultan Kudarat Province.
From 2017 to 2021, the bed occupancy rate of the hospital increased from 136% to 362%.
According to the National Economic Development Authority, the ratio of hospital beds to population should be one hospital bed for every 1,000 population.
Mendoza also proposes providing the necessary hospital space to accommodate the additional beds, equipping the hospital with up-to-date medical and office equipment and facilities, and increasing the staff complement.
“The passage of this bill is strongly encouraged to realize the Bangsamoro government’s commitment to the Bangsamoro people and indigenous peoples so that no one is left behind,” she said.
Given that more than 70 percent of the facility’s patients are Teduray, Mendoza said that the medical personnel can converse in the Teduray dialect.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, also known as Republic Act No. 8371, requires the state to protect indigenous peoples’ rights to the government’s essential services, which include but are not limited to infrastructure, water and electricity facilities, education, and health.
All applicable and pertinent provisions of Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Act must be incorporated into the hospital’s operational system as part of its upgrade.
The BARMM’s health minister will have administrative supervision of the hospital through the relevant division head of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and determine the appropriate organizational structure, medical personnel, and operational activities of the municipal hospital.
Once approved, the amount necessary to finance the initial implementation of the upgrade will be charged against the current year’s appropriation for the MOH.
“When passed into law, this bill will fulfill the mandate of the Bangsamoro government to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples to access life-saving health services,” she added. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)