Press Release
July 1, 2019

Sotto files 1st bill to increase number of doctors in rural areas

Senate President Vicente Sotto III today filed his first 10 bills for the first Regular Session of the 18th Congress.

Sotto's first bill, Senate Bill No. 1, seeks to provide medical scholarships in State Universities and Colleges to increase the number of doctors serving in the public sector.

"There is lack of physicians in the country caused by most doctors preferring to practice in the urban areas than in the rural," Sotto said.

"The granting of scholarships to deserving medical students would aid in the increase of the number of physicians in the country," he added.

In 2014, the Philippine Medical Association estimated that doctor shortage would reach 930,000 when the country's population would hit the 100 million mark. The Commission on Population (PopCom) estimated Filipino population to hit 109 million by the end of December this year.

According to Sotto, scholarship in a state-run university or college shall be granted to aspiring medical students who belong to the top 20 percent of the graduating batch. He said the aspiring medical student's personal or family income must not be sufficient to support his or her's medical education and that he or she must pass the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) as well as the medical school's entrance examination.

Sotto said the scholarship grant shall cover tuition fees, laboratory and miscellaneous fees, required textbooks, school supplies and equipment, clothing and uniform allowances, traveling expenses, board and lodging as well as subsistence and living allowances.

Immediately after graduating from the program, he said, the scholars must work in the country for five years, two years of which must be rendered in a government hospital or office where he or she resides.

He said the health department shall fund 50 percent of the scholarship grants while the other 50 percent shall be covered by the state-run university or college.

Hopefully, Sotto said, the passage of the bill into law would balance the distribution of doctors in the government sector, which take care of nearly 70 percent of the health care needs of the population.

Sotto's nine other bills are Senate Bill No 2, otherwise known as An Act Establishing a Detention Program and Facility for High Level Drug Offenders Within the National Penitentiary System Under the Bureau of Corrections, Appropriating Funds Therefor and Other Purposes; Senate Bill No. 3, An Act Amending Article IX of Republic Act 9165, Otherwise Known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and Creating the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority, and for Other Purposes; Senate Bill No. 4, An Act Creating a Special Court to be Known as The "Dangerous Drugs Court" and for other Purposes; Senate Bill No. 5, An Act Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Amending for the Purpose Sections 6, 20, 20-A, 290-B and 22 of Republic Act No. 9344, as amended, Otherwise Known as "The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006," and for other Purposes

Senate Bill No. 6, An Act Amending RA 9372, Otherwise Known as the Act to Secure the State and Protect Our People from Terrorism or the Human Security Act (HAS) of 2007, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes; Senate Bill No. 7, An Act Providing for the Conduct of Hybrid National, Local and ARMM Elections, Through Manual Voting and Counting at the Precinct Level, and Automated Transmission and Canvassing, and for Other Purposes; Senate Bill No.8, An Act Increasing the Penalty for the Crime of Perjury, Amending for the Purpose Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, and for Other Purposes; Senate Bill No. 9. An Act Prohibiting the Publication and Proliferation of False Content on the Philippine Internet, Providing Measures to Counteract its Effects and Prescribing Penalties Therefor and Senate Bill No. 10, An Act Requiring Employers in the Private Sector to Pay 14th Month Pay.

As of press time, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senator Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Richard Gordon and Ramon "Bong" Revilla had each filed 10 bills and resolutions bringing the total number to 90.

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