MANILA, July 15 (Mabuhay) – Members of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) said the priorities of the government when it comes to funding projects under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) seem to be misplaced.
In a press conference at Anabel’s in Quezon City, PCP President Anthony Leachon said the government, including the Department of Health, should answer why a P70 million stem cell research program was identified as one of the projects funded under the DAP.
“Is stem cell research so important when there are other pressing concerns affecting the population? It’s like an elephant in the room, there’s a bigger problem that you refuse to address. Stem cell will only benefit a few,” he said.
The Department of Budget and Management disclosed a summarized list of the DAP projects yesterday, immediately after President Benigno Aquino III proclaimed the benefits of the fund amid the decision of the Supreme Court.
In defending the DAP and saying that the SC was wrong, Aquino said: “Without doubt, any good leader would want to implement projects that benefit the public at the soonest possible time. I do not see any reason to delay benefits for our countrymen, especially because we have the wherewithal to alleviate their plight. It is clear that if you delay the benefits due them, you prolong the suffering of the Filipino people.”
The stem cell research program was listed as the 15th item in the DBM list. It was named as the Lung Center of the Philippines’ Bio-Regenerative Technology Program.
The project intends to “fund the Bio-Regenerative Program aimed at harnessing stem cell research and technology to reconstruct new healthy cells, replacing cancer or dead cells.”
“We can see the government is bent on pursuing research from stem cell. Malacanang has repeatedly said that the DAP was undertaken in good faith to boost the country’s economic performance. Clearly, stem cell research is not urgently needed and will not affect our economic performance,” Leachon said.
He said there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved immediately, including the funding problems of public hospitals such as the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center and the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
“Stem cell is not an urgent issue. We have 25 million suffering from hypertension, 10 million suffering from diabetes. We have 3 out of 5 Filipinos dying of non-communicable disease,” Leachon said.
Stem cell is not yet widely accepted in the world in terms of its safety and effectivity.
Stricter guidelines are still being drafted to stem the proliferation of fly-by-night clinics and unscrupulous practices of so-called professionals. (MNS)