Cebu News

“Symbolic” thanks to Cebuanos: Hontiveros takes oath before Davide

Michael Vencynth H. Braga - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Senator-elect Risa Hontiveros vows to increase the compensation of barangay health workers (BHWs) in the country once she officially assumes office as a member of the Congress.

She announced her commitment as she took her oath of office before Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III at the Capitol Social Hall yesterday.

She explained that she chose to have her oath administered in Cebu as a "symbolic way" of thanking Cebuanos for delivering votes that made her clinch the 9th spot in the last May 9 elections.

She noted that she has always landed in the top 12 in the vote-rich province, although she lost in the two previous senatorial elections.

Hontiveros ran for a Senate seat in 2010 under the ticket of President Benigno Aquino III. She placed 13th overall in that senatorial race. She ran again in the midterm elections but still lost, placing 17th.

Before running in the senatorial race, she served as representative of Akbayan Citizen's Action Party in the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2010.

In a press conference after the ceremony yesterday, Hontiveros said she would immediately file health-related bills as part of her effort in intensifying her universal health care campaign, one of which is a bill to expand the benefits of the BHWs.

She will push for regular positions with compensation of at least P6,000 for BHWs, with health, insurance and retirement benefits.

She said the augmentation will be sourced from sin tax revenues. The legislation would further capacitate BHWs to address the shortage of nur-ses and doctors in rural areas.

Through this, Hontiveros said she is optimistic that the country would be able to achieve the standard threshold of 24 health service providers per 10,000 population that was established by the World Health Organization.

Other health-related measures she would propose include the establishment of "super barangay health clinics" which are equipped with laboratory units; expansion of Philhealth coverage to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and indigent patients; and amendment to the Anti-Hospital Deposits Act to assist mothers and infants during critical pregnancies.

Davide, on the other hand, said he was grateful that Hontiveros chose to take oath in Cebu and before him, being the provincial chairman of Liberal Party, which coalesced with Akbayan.

Hontiveros further said she is open to discussing cooperation on various issues with her colleagues who are under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of the President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

She added that she hopes for an independent Senate under the incoming administration. — (FREEMAN)

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