PICC, PASAY CITY – Former rebels and decommissioned combatants will now have access to vital health services under the Department of Health’s (DOH) Medical Assistance to Indigent and Financially Incapacitated Patients (MAIFIP).

This, after the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the DOH signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Monday, March 4, this city, which formalized their partnership to implement the initiative.

Support to peacebuilding efforts

The implementation of conflict-sensitive health programs such as the one to be carried out by OPAPRU and DOH through the MOA, will allow both agencies to work together to provide recipients with much-needed health services.

It is also seen to strengthen the government’s peacebuilding efforts, as it sends a clear and strong signal that it is determined to improve the lives of the beneficiaries and support their journey towards their complete and meaningful transformation.

The provision of socioeconomic assistance and services is among the key components of the Transformation and Normalization Programs that seek to sustain and build on the gains of the comprehensive Philippine peace process.

The Transformation Program is a community-driven intervention that is being implemented in parallel with the Local Peace Engagement (LPE) initiative, which aims to uplift the socioeconomic conditions of former rebels, their families, and communities.

On the other hand, the Normalization Program, which is under Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is designed to help decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants return to mainstream society as peaceful and productive citizens.

Synergy of efforts

In his remarks during the signing ceremony, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr., underscored that “health and peace must go together.”

Galvez noted that aside from the annual budget allocation of Php 58.8 million that has been allotted under OPAPRU’s budget to fund the PhilHealth premiums of former rebels and decommissioned combatants, the MOA bolsters the provision of healthcare and other medical services to the beneficiaries.

“There are more or less 40,000 former rebels and CPP-NPA [members]na nagbalik loob na sa atin. There are also 727 na mga dating [NPA] Rejectionist Group in the areas of Aklan, Regions 6 and 7, and Davao na magiging beneficiaries na po nito,” he explained.

Under the MAIFIP, the beneficiaries will be able to avail of health services in public hospitals throughout the country with financial and medical assistance provided by the national government.

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Paz V. Pecson-Corrales, OPAPRU consultant, noted that “It has always been the end goal of our offices to help those in need in whatever ways we can provide. And through our collective efforts by signing this Memorandum of Agreement between our offices, we will achieve so much more.”

“The MAIFIP has been a program that transcends the concept of extending a helping hand…lives have changed for the better because of this initiative. Families were saved, ailments were cured, [and] assistance was given to those who need it most,” Corrales added.

A dream come true

In his message, Health Secretary Teodoro J. Herbosa shared that the joint initiative has long been envisioned by the DOH and OPAPRU and has now finally come into fruition.

According to Herbosa, the MOA is a realization of the national government’s commitment to provide much-needed medical assistance to former rebels and decommissioned combatants.

“Through this MOA, we can provide the medical and financial needs of former rebels…Pilipino rin sila and they are entitled to the assistance of the government, especially of the Department of Health. Para maramdaman nila ang kalinga ng gobyerno, [para maramdaman] ng bawat Pilipino ang kalusugan,” Herbosa said.

For his part, Galvez noted that the collaborative effort between the DOH and OPAPRU is a significant step in addressing the health concerns of beneficiaries and improving their overall well-being.

“Ito ay isa sa mga susi na pwede nating ibigay sa ating mga decommissioned combatants,” he said.

“With this signing of a Memorandum of Agreement, we will be able to improve the delivery of healthcare services. We will be able to effectively address the health conditions of our beneficiaries, especially those who need vital medication or other forms of treatment,” Galvez stressed. ###