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MANILA – Government hospitals have stopped granting credit privileges extended to lawmakers following the decision of the Supreme Court declaring unconstitutional the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

PDAF is the source of funding for medical assistance extended by members of Congress to their poor constituents.
Thousands of poor patients suffering from cancer, end stage renal disorder, heart disease, tuberculosis and other ailments requiring constant medical care and medication can no longer avail of free treatments and pharmaceutical needs.

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) which usually accepts guarantee letters for dialysis patients has closed down the credit line usually enjoyed by solons who extend free medical treatment to their constituents.
Legislators who are regular donors of medical assistance programs in government specialty hospitals are those who are given credit line privileges by government hospitals.

“I have at least 40 poor patients whose dialysis treatments are funded out of my PDAF. I hope government will take care of them,” said former Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

Suarez’s wife, Rep. Aleta Suarez, retained the medical assistance program started by her husband but the absence of PDAF might force her to use personal funds or totally discontinue the program.

Aside from the NKTI, other government hospitals that accept guarantee letters issued by congressmen and senators are the Philippine Heart Center, the Lung Center of the Philippines and the National Children’s Medical Center, all in Quezon City.

Aside from Suarez, incumbent congressmen who enjoyed GL privileges in order for them to extend medical assistance to ailing and poor constituents include Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Reps. Rolando Andaya (Lakas-CMD, Camarines Sur); Sherwin Tugna (CIBAC Partylist); Ben Evardone (LP, Eastern Samar); Elpidio Barzaga (NUP, Cavite); Emil Ong (NUP, Samar) and former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (Ben Rosario)