COTABATO CITY — To address the pressing medical, safety, and security needs of the Bangsamoro constituents, lawmakers from the region have filed three bills seeking to establish cancer care and evacuation centers while also upgrading the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital.
These legislative efforts, according to the authors, demonstrate their commitment to improving healthcare services and ensuring the safety and well-being of their constituents during emergencies.
BTA Bill No. 226 or Bangsamoro Cancer Care Center Act aims to establish a dedicated cancer care center within the Bangsamoro region that will serve as a specialized hospital offering comprehensive services, including diagnosis, treatment, care, rehabilitation, and relief.
The main author of the bill, MP Jaafar Apollo Mikhail Matalam, said that this center would help ease the burden faced by patients, eliminating the need for costly journeys to distant cities for treatment.
MP Matalam acknowledged the challenges faced by cancer patients and their families, such as geographical barriers, poverty, and limited access to healthcare services.
Many Bangsamoro residents with cancer do not seek treatment due to financial constraints and lack of access to specialized facilities.
“By establishing a cancer care center within the region, this bill fulfills their long-awaited right to accessible and comprehensive cancer care, addressing the heart-wrenching reality faced by our fellow Bangsamoro citizens,” said MP Matalam.
To ensure that even indigent constituents can access cancer treatment, the bill proposes allocating a cancer assistance fund to offer financial support and assistance.
The Bangsamoro Government will provide the necessary land, buildings, equipment, and facilities for the center, which will be under the supervision of the Department of Health and the Ministry of Health.
Recognizing the region’s vulnerability to calamities like flooding, armed conflict, and other disasters, MP Matalam emphasized the urgent need for reliable and secure evacuation centers.
Under PB No. 227, or the Safer Haven Act, each barangay within the BARMM will have a mandatory evacuation center constructed. Said centers will adhere to core principles of safety, accessibility, fully-equipped facilities, empowerment, and resilience, providing crucial havens for the community during disasters and emergencies.
The evacuation centers will be equipped with adequate shelter, sanitary facilities, potable water supply, storage areas for relief goods, communication systems, and medical and first aid facilities.
The two proposed bills are co-authored by MPs Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, Rasul Ismael, Atty. Randolph Parcacio, Tarhata Maglangit, Ali Montaha Babao, Abdulkarim Misuari, Hatimil Hassan, Ali Solaiman, Mudjib Abu, Tawakal Midtimbang, Susana Anayatin, Ramon Piang, Mohammad Kelie Antao, Albakil Jikiri, Nabila Margarita Pangandaman, and Dr. Kadil M. Sinolinding Jr.
In another effort to enhance healthcare services, MPs Engr. Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., and Atty. Sittie Fahanie Uy-Oyod also proposed to upgrade the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital (MPH) to a level III 350-bed capacity hospital.
The MPH, currently a 299-bed Level II hospital located in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur, caters to the medical and health needs of people in the region. However, due to the rapid population growth in the area, an upgrade is necessary to provide better healthcare services and facilities.
The upgraded hospital will integrate all pertinent and relevant provisions under the Universal Health Care Act (Republic Act No. 11223) into its system of operations. The Ministry of Health will remain under the administrative supervision of the upgraded hospital and will establish and approve the appropriate organizational structure and personnel for the facility’s management and operations.
MPs Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr., Amilbahar Mawallil, Atty. Laisa Alamia, Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, Rasul Ismael, Khalid Hadji Abdullah, Jaafar Apollo Mikhail Matalam, Bassir Utto, and Tawakal Midtimbang are co-authors of the said hospital bill. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)