(Manila, Philippines – July 21, 2018) HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, called on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to rally support for universal health care and higher tobacco taxes in his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SoNA).
“We implore the President to emphasize the immediate need to pass the universal health care bill into law. It stands to benefit millions of Filipinos who would otherwise not receive the medical attention and treatment they urgently need,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.
HealthJustice has been present in the Senate hearings on the universal health care bills as a resource person.
“We know the President to be a staunch tobacco control ally. By the time he delivers his SoNA on Monday, Executive Order No. 26, or the smoke-free EO, will have been effective for a year already. It is likewise our hope that he will urge the Congress to increase tobacco taxes to make cigarettes inaccessible and keep the Filipinos, especially the youth, away from smoking,” Fernandez Mendoza said.
Duterte is set to give his third SONA on Monday, July 23, 2018.
In his second SoNA, Duterte spoke lengthily about reforms that had been made in the health sector, including signing E.O. No. 26, the expansion of health insurance coverage and benefits and more effective implementation of the No Balance Billing Policy.
“Investing in the health sector is never a cost to be endured but an opportunity to be explored,” Duterte said in his earlier SONA.
“We are eager to hear all about what the administration has done to make good its promise to ensure that Filipinos are given equitable access to quality and affordable health services,” Fernandez Mendoza added.
HealthJustice Philippines is Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a member of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts, advocates and organizations working to decrease the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.
Download press release here.