MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sonny Angara has filed a bill that seeks to amend the Mental Health Act and allow those who have mental illness immediate access to benefits provided for them under existing laws.
Angara recognized that especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has become a critical issue for many people who find it difficult to seek help as the country’s healthcare system is overwhelmed.
Under the Mental Health Act, PhilHealth is required to provide insurance packages to patients affected by mental health conditions and to ensure they have access to the medicines they need.
“People with mental health conditions should have access to affordable essential health services, at all levels of the national healthcare system,” the senator noted.
“However, while we do have the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), VMMC, and the Mental Health Act in play to help veterans who need support, the unfortunate incident involving Corporal Ragos emphasizes a need to revisit, reexamine, and realign mental health services,” he added.
Angara was referring to Corporal Winston Ragos, a former member of the Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion under the 9th Infantry “Spear” Division, who was shot dead by a policeman after an altercation at a quarantine control point in Barangay Pasong Putik, Quezon City, on April 21.
Angara, who had been found positive for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19, on Monday filed Senate Bill No. 1471 that aims to amend Section 5 of Republic Act 11036 or Mental Health Act to include a section on the “Rights of Service Users.”
He said the added section allows the service user the right to “immediately receive compensation benefits and/or any special financial assistance that he or she is entitled to should the service user sustain temporary or permanent mental disability while in the performance of duty or by reason of his or her office or position.”
“As the case of Corporal Ragos has shown us, some of the existing policies and guidelines need updates to better serve our men in uniform,” the senator said.