PhilHealth allots P47M for MILF, MNLF
STATE-run health insurance firm Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has allotted P47.7 million for the health insurance coverage of thousands of Muslim rebels this year.
Alexander Padilla, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, said the government has expanded the health insurance coverage for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and included the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as part of “peace dividends.”
“Roughly 19,000 returning MILF and MNLF combatants, including their family members, will be assured of [free]health services under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan [Pamana] program,” Padilla told The Manila Times.
When asked why funds have been allotted for the MILF despite non-passage of the controversial Bangsamoro measure, he explained that this was part of the government’s continuing commitment to the peace process.
“Even if the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law remains pending [in the
Senate and House of Representatives], they [Moro fighters] really form part of the poor, that’s why they’re waging war against the government,” Padilla said.
In 2014, PhilHealth set aside more than P26 million for the health insurance coverage of 11,000 MILF fighters.
Padilla said the corporation has also offered the same benefit package for members of the communist New People’s Army who will return to the fold of the law.
The Philippine government and the MILF signed a historic peace agreement to put an end to decades of rebellion in Mindanao and pave the way for economic development in the region.
Under the agreement, a Bangsamoro autonomous region will be created to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which President Benigno Aquino 3rd had declared a failed experiment.
Under the agreement, the Bangsamoro region will cover the ARMM’s geographical area at present, along with Cotabato City, Isabela City (Basilan) and the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte.
The 11,000-strong MILF, which used to be part of the MNLF that also signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, has been battling government troops in southern Philippines since 1969, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.
Decades of conflict has claimed at least 120,000 lives, displaced thousands and brought massive destruction to property.
The passage of the proposed Bangsamoro law was delayed because of the mowing down of dozens of police commandos by MILF fighters and members of other armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January last year.
Some lawmakers have said the measure may no longer be passed during the remaining term of Aquino for lack of time.