Bills on local health boards, tree planting program get House nod

2023 August 22

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that will strengthen the local health boards of every province, city, or municipality, by including the duly elected president of the Provincial Federation of Barangay Health Workers as its member.

House Bill (HB) 7447, introduced by Quezon (1st District) Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, was approved with a vote of 238 votes.

The proposed measure also provides an additional function of local health boards which is to propose incentives or benefits for barangay health workers, as well as recommendations on other matters requiring expenditures of local funds on health matters.

“With this bill, we aim to strengthen local health boards by ensuring the representation of barangay health workers whom we continue to recognize as essential front liners in health promotion and advocacy,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said in a statement.

Enverga said the bill seeks to further uphold the rights and promote the welfare of barangay heath workers who, through their “tireless dedication and selfless service,” have been vital in addressing health issues in the community level.

“Without them, the government’s fight against many diseases, and the pandemic, for instance, will not be successful. Hence, it is just appropriate that they become part of local health boards that serve as an advisory committee to the sanggunian (council) concerned on health matters,” he said in a separate statement.

Tree planting bill

Voting 233 against three, the House also approved on the third and final reading HB 8568 that will provide mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of a tree planting program across the country.

HB 8568 seeks to amend various sections of Republic Act 10176, or the Arbor Day Act of 2012, “to combat the loss of the country’s natural resources and rejuvenate the environment.”

“We recognize the vital role and importance of trees in ecological stability. I think we need trees more than trees need us,” Romualdez said.

HB 8568 shall augment the existing Arbor Day Committee of the different local government units (LGUs) by suggesting the inclusion of field officers from the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples.

The measure mandates that the local government unit, with technical assistance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shall identify suitable areas to be planted to various species of trees and plants, including bamboo.

 Jose Cielito Reganit and Zaldy De Layola (PNA)