TRANSCRIPT – AMBUSH INTERVIEW

Sen. JV Ejercito (SJVE)- Siguro we need about one or two more hearings, I want to have hearings in Visayas and Mindanao para yung mga concern in those regions na talaga namang through the years, yung mga facilities nila and services need improvement. So I want to have hearings, one in Visayas, and one in Mindanao.

Q: Hindi ba kasama iyan sa priority bills or kasama ba iyan sa ipapasa before the yearend?

SJVE- It was mentioned by the President in the SONA, 'yung Universal Health Care Program. So iyan ang reason bakit nagkaroon kami ng hearing kaagad. Hopefully we can pass this before the yearend so that we can improve health care coverage. Hopefully, health care for all - yung no balance billing, improvement of health facilities. Iyon ang intention po natin.

Q: Increase daw ng premium?

SJVE- Yung increase ng premium is proposed by PhilHealth, P2,400 to P3,600 by 2019 for them to be able to improve their facilities and services and at the same time yung health care for all siguro in anticipation na rin to improve the program so they are proposing to increase the premium because by standards naman ang kanila pong justification. We are still below the average dun sa region. Parang lumalabas ,50 dollars lang eh per family so it is very much below the standards, eh 100 dollars sa buong region.

Q: Lahat naman aprubado sa panukala?

SJVE- Lahat naman, halos lahat naman aprub. There are some yung mga hospital associations, they have reservations on some provisions. Halimbawa yung mga use of generics and yung you will compel the professionals, meron silang mga reservation dun. But we will conduct two more hearings to resolve all of this and probably technical working group. Ang importante naman dito ay yung improvement of health facilities. Sa aking dalawang buwan na pagiging chairman of committee on health, I was able to visit some of the facilities. Medyo nakakalungkot eh, there are hospitals na parang normal lang 200 to 300 occupancy. I'm hoping that with the passage of the Universal Health Care Program and improvement of the budget, I don't want to see anymore 200-300 percent occupancy. Nakakalungkot, patients in the corridors, patients na nasa mga gymnasium na improvised wards. So hopefully with the passage of this measure, we can also improve on the health facilities as well.

Q: Budget under this bill?

SJVE- Ang sabi ng DOH, what they need in the next five years is P228-billion to improve hospital facilities, yung health facilities para mabawasan na dito yung overcrowding. P229 billion in the next 5 years, that's about P46 billion a year. Unfortunately, this year nagkaroon ng budget cut ang DOH, naging P29 billion probably because of the absorptive capacity rin kaya na-cut sila ng DBM. Yan ang mga pag-uusapan namin in the budget season.

Q: PhilHealth coverage status?

SJVE- Before 91 percent ang kanilang coverage. But they said itong 2017, nag-100 percent na daw sila. And taking off from the SONA, from the President's pronouncement that he wants the universal health program passed. So we will work on this to improve not only the coverage, but the benefits as well, lalo na yung mga mas mahal na cases. Hopefully we can include all of those.

Q: Yung sa tertiary education lang ang sinasabi ni Budget Sec. Diokno na hindi kaya kasi aabot ng 100 b, ano yun sir?

SJVE- Well I think yung P100 billion na sinasabi ni Sec. Diokno that includes already the budget for SUCs and P28 billion that is needed for the free tuitrion. But, ako kasi I'm one of the principal author of the Free Higher Education Act. I would rather spend P100 billion for education than we are now spending P77billion for the conditional cash transfer, 4Ps. Eh sa akin kahit anong anggulo mo tingnan, dole out yan eh. I would rather invest in our youth, especially in education na sa tingin ko mas may malaking tsansa magkaroon ka ng graduate sa bawat pamilya, mas malaki ang tsansa niyan na makakuha ng magdndang trabaho na mapaganda ang buhay ng kanyang pamilya. So I am hoping that the finance people of the administration would reconsider yung kanilang stand or their position because this would not do good, both Houses already passed the Free Higher Education Bill. I'm hoping...this would be good for all because this is an investment, again, magkaroon ka ng graudate bawat pamilya, mas malaking tsansa na mas mapaganda mo yung kalidad ng buhay ng pamilya.

Q: Sir yung concern ni Secretary Pernia ng NEDA na yung possible implication nito sa mga private schools?

SJVE- May mga criteria naman hindi naman siguro magkakaroon ng exodus ang private schools to SUCs. Unang-una ang criteria natin kaya nga tayo may state colleges is to give quality education for poor but deserving students. So magkakaroon sila ng quota, kumbaga hanggang doon na,...(hindi marinig) they will not mage-expand or they will not add additional students kung ano yung capacity nila hanggang dun lang. so it will be...syempre yung poor but deserving students will have to pass the criteria syempre yung grade average, syempre yung DSWD should also provide ng kanilang...they belong to the poor but dseserving category.

Q: Sir with all the concerns of some Cabinet members, do you think pipirmahan ni Presidente yung batas tungkol sa...?

SJVE- Well I'm...hanggang August 5. I am hoping that the President would sign this, wag naman sanang i-veto because this would not look good. Ipinasa ap o ito ng Senado, ipinasa ap o ito ng Kongreso. And napakaganda naman ng intention nito and I think this is an investment for the future.

Q: Paano ang pera, how would we raise the money that Pernia and Diokno are saying that be hard to come up kasi nga ang laki daw ng cost?

SJVE- Ang ano rito nasa P25 billion ang kailangan just to cover the tuition fee for the State Universities and Colleges. Yung P100 billion na binabanggit siguro ni Sec. Diokno that already includes the budget for SUCs as well, so P100 billion ang total. Ang sa akin if we spend P77 billion for the 4Ps, the conditional cash transfer, I would rather spend the same amount for an investment in the future na sa tingin ko nga mas malaki ang tsansa na mapaganda ng isang raduate ang kanilang pamilya kasi mas maganda ang tsansa na siya ay makakakita ng magandang trabaho.

Q: Sir saan kukunin yung P25 billion kaya? I mean off hand, where can you think makuha yung P25 b?

SJVE- Noong isang taon nakapag-budget na kami. To the bicam, nagbabawas-bawas na kami sa iba, nakapaglagay kami... for the Free Tuition Fee Act. This time...I think if I'm not mistaken P25 billion yata yung total, we can source that through...marami namang ano kasi last year nga lang mayroon tayong P500 billion na unused appropriation. So this is just P25 billion so medyo, napaguusapan namin kahapon, even the committee on finance chair was there, sabi namin we can work on this on this budget season kasi hindi masyadong mataas yun, P25 billion lang hindi ganoon kalaki yung amount for us to make this work kasi free higher education will be a good legacy...

Q: Anong maging effect if override?

SJVE- Siguro parang hindi naman magandang tingnan na the President veto it, i-override pa naming parang nagkakaroon kami ng hindi pagkakasunduan. So I am hoping that there is still time, hoping that there is still time, I'm hoping that the President would sign this into law. Kasi ano naman eh, this has noble intention and I think this is a very...one of the landmark bills that we have passed and maganda ito

Q: Sir ang alegasyon ni Sec. Diokno eh maliit na porsiyento lang naman daw yung umaabot sa tertiary education, parang something like 12 percent lang?

SJVE- Well, kung maliit man yung, maliit na porsiyento lang ang umaabot sa tertiary education, might as well na yung maliit na porsiyentong yun, siguraduhin natin makagraduate. Kasi pag nakagraduate sila, they will have a bigger chance of getting a better job yun ang mkakaangat ng antas ng buhay hindi yung dole out. If we are spending P70 billion a year for the dole out every year sa CCT at 4Ps, might as well spend it on investment na buong buhay nila kaya nilang magtrabaho.

Q: Sir ina-avoid ninyo yung override?

SJVE- (hindi marinig)...parang, well it would show na parang hindi kami nagkakasundo. Like in this particular instance, sa tingin ng (hindi malinaw) na sinabi na napakagandang ng intention ng bill Higher Free Education Act kaya lang hindi inapprove ng executive. Kung ito man ay i-veto tapos i-override namin, para lang hindi maganda na ano, parang hindi kami nagkakasundo ng ating Pangulo

Q: So wala yun, wala sa option?

SJVE- Well nasa option but I am hoping that we do not have to go into that situation, sana lang maiwasan. Parang hindi naman maganda na ibi-veto ng Pangulo yung ipinasa ng Kongreso tapos i-override namin. I am hoping that we do not arrive in that situation.

Q: Tingin mo, sir may effect sa political capital ng Pangulo kung sakali man na i-veto niya?

SJVE- Well, he has very high rating - 82 percent as of now napakataas ng kanyang political capital. I am just hoping na huwag (niya) sayangin yung political capital. Sayang lang kasi ito makakatulong talaga makakadagdag pa ito. Although he does not need it because he remains very popular, but I think it's an investment for the future. Hindi tayo magkakamali, we can never go wrong if we invest in the future especially in education.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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