"The Filipino soul is capable of genuine bayanihan and pagmamalasakit." - Rep. Paul Daza [Image by Krakenimages at Unsplash]

Why did you file it? What is the rationale behind the measure? 

The best way for me to answer this question is to lift what I have shared in the Explanatory Note:

COVID-19 has indeed shown all countries in the world that the most vulnerable area in the public domain is the health sector. Nevertheless, it is also an area that provides a lot of potential for bayanihan and pagmamalasakit

Certainly, COVID-19 is tough but it also motivates us to revisit our public health systems. One of the more glaring realities that we are facing is the lack of medical- and health-trained professionals. This is aggravated by the fact that most if not all professional licensure examinations and continuing education system are indefinitely postponed.

Given the urgent requirements for healthcare workers as well as the benefit of employment-based approach to the country’s economic recovery program, it is then necessary that the government provides mechanisms—such as a Medical Reserve Corps system—that will allow us to employ new graduates and other qualified professionals in the medical fields. Moreover, a Medical Reserve Corps system will ultimately help promote a culture of nationalism, patriotism, and volunteerism—values which are critical to recovery and nation-building.

Indeed the Filipino soul is capable of genuine bayanihan and pagmamalasakit

These are the reasons why I and my team decided to file this bill.

Kindly specify the salient provisions of your bill. 

I will encourage you to read the full HB but below are its salient provisions:

1. Medical Reserve Corps. –The proposed Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) shall be composed of resident Filipino citizens who: 

(a) have degrees in the fields of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but who have not yet been issued respective licenses and/or awaiting licensure examinations in their respective professions; 

(b) are medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and

(c) public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health, emergencies, and other necessary services.

2. Medical Reserve Corps Mobilization.  In times of national emergencies, pandemics, and other contingencies, the members of the proposed MRC may be called upon and mobilized to assist the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and the local government in functions related to the medical and health needs of the public.

The mobilization, if the law will be enacted, shall be initiated by the Secretary of Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with other agencies.

3. Request for Deployment. – The members of MRC, if approved, shall be called upon and mobilized to assist the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and local government units in their functions related to the medical and health needs of the public through requests for deployment by the heads of such national government agencies or local government units submitted to the DOH. 

4. Evaluation of the Request for Deployment.  If enacted into law, the DOH will be tasked to evaluate the requests for deployment under the MRC program. 

  • If the number of personnel requested does not exceed one hundred and fifty (150) and the period of deployment does not exceed sixty (60) days, the DOH shall decide whether to approve or disapprove the request.

(b) If the number of personnel requested exceeds one hundred and fifty (150) or the period of deployment exceeds sixty (60) days, the DOH shall make a recommendation to the Office of the President (OP) within twenty-four (24) hours from receipt of the request. 

5. Deployment in Case of a Declaration of a State of War, State of Lawless Violence or State of Calamity. – In case of a declaration of a state of war, state of lawless violence, or a state of pandemic or calamity, the DOH may motu propio recommend the mobilization of the MRC to the President, if the law is enacted. The President shall also have the power to order the mobilization of the MRC to respond to national or local contingencies related to external and territorial defense, internal security and peace order and/or disaster risk reduction management. 

6. Protection covered by labor, occupational, environmental, and social legislation. If enacted into law, all MRC members shall be accorded protection as provided by existing labor laws and standards and other relevant occupational, safety, environmental, and social legislation.

7. Legal liability and malpractice insurance. If enacted into law, no MRC member shall be liable for the death of or injury to any person or for the loss of, or damage to, the property of any person where such death, injury, loss, or damage was proximately caused by the circumstances of an actual emergency, pandemic, or its subsequent conditions, or the circumstances of the formal exercise or training if such formal exercise or training simulates conditions of an actual emergency. Of course, the proposed law shall not preclude liability for civil damages as a result of gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct.

8. Identification, Serial Numbers, and Registry. – Upon completion of their respective degrees, the graduates shall be issued individual serial numbers, which will serve as their identification in case of deployment, if the proposed law is enacted.

(a) The DOH is proposed to maintain and update a registry/database containing the names of the members of the Corps, their serial numbers, address, contact details and such other information as the DOH may determine, in accordance with any applicable privacy laws. 

(b) If enacted, all graduates covered under the proposed law are required to update their addresses and contact details on file with the DOH as often as necessary. 

9. Termination of Deployment. – As proposed in the said House Bill, upon the expiration of the requested period of deployment, without an extension having been requested and approved by the DOH, the Corps shall be discharged of his/her duties. 

10. Effect on Employment. – Deployment of employees in accordance with the provisions of the proposed law shall not be a ground for dismissal or diminution of any benefit enjoyed by such graduates prior to their deployment. The members of the Corps shall continue to be entitled to their regular wage or salary (based on their current employment or contractual arrangement) during their deployment. The same protective mechanisms are going to be ensured for project-based or contractual employees.

11. Volunteerism. Other qualified Filipino citizens and professionals shall be accorded all means possible to allow then to render voluntary services under the proposed law. The following principles are proposed in my version:

(a) Professionals whose licenses recently expired or expired prior to or during a declared emergency or pandemic may voluntarily be admitted to the Corps, upon approval of PRC. They shall also be issued individual serial numbers, which are differentiated from unlicensed Corps members.

(b) The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall work with relevant universities, colleges, and schools to ensure that the provisions of this Act shall be incorporated in any relevant subject or course in medical- and health-related fields of study.

(c) Medical reservists and professionals (including those who are not currently practicing health-related assignments) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippines National Police (PNP) shall be encouraged to join the roster of MRC particularly when the health system is already experiencing a critical lack of personnel.

(d) Other public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health emergencies and other necessary services shall also be encouraged to join the MRC roster.

(e)  Civil servants who opted to join the MRC roster shall continue enjoying their compensations and benefits as provided for in this Act. Private citizens who were unemployed prior or became unemployed due to a pandemic or emergency and who voluntarily joined the roster (but not qualified for compensation as provided by Section 15) shall be qualified to a fair compensation including an allowance for transportation and food (up to three meals a day if warranted by the duration of their work shifts).

12. Effect on Licensing and Licensure Examination. Deployment of personnel in accordance with the provisions of this proposed law shall entitle them to applicable credits or equivalency system in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) system. 


What the bill will do when it becomes law? Its short and long-term benefits for the covered sector, and the public as well.

Having enough medical and non-medical personnel during pandemics and disasters will allow us to bounce back faster because, first, we are able to take care of our sick or affected kababayans, and second, we can help facilitate faster recovery. As you will appreciate, the good health and resilience of the population is our first line of defense. Having a strong and healthy population means we can efficiently, safely, and vigorously work as one in rehabilitating and rebuilding our economies—both local and national.

May I also lift what I had shared in the Explanatory Note, too:

A source of hope is the promising potential of the wealth of talents and skills that we already have. For example, more than 1,500 medical school graduates are waiting to complete their licensure examinations this year (PRC as cited in Aguilar, 2020)[1]. Meanwhile, an estimate of 26,000 nurses graduate from our schools annually (POEA & CHED as cited in Lopez & Jiao, 2020).[2] While brain drain in the medical sector is still a serious concern—and we need to look into that sooner than later—our medical and health graduates are definitely our most important wealth especially at this critical time.

            Meanwhile, serious pandemics and emergencies impact employment. The immediate employment of healthcare workers will then partly address economic difficulties. In fact, the International Labor Organization has highlighted that interventions “for economic reactivation should follow a job-rich approach,” anchored on a “stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems.”[3]

Moreover, with the proposed law, we are inculcating in our minds especially the youth, young graduates, and even professionals about the importance of unity and nationalism. That we need to love and serve our country especially in times of disasters and pandemics. 

How it will affect ordinary people? For example, doctors in private practice. Senior citizen doctors, and other concerned individuals. 

In the individual level, we are going to address unemployment and underemployment problems that are often associated with disasters and pandemics. For example, we all know that COVID-19 has significantly impacted our informal sector, OFWs, SMEs, tourism-based businesses, freelancers, and other members of the working class. While we cannot possibly employ everyone, having an effective MRC program will help address employment-related challenges. 

Our medical and non-medical workforce will also directly experience the benefits because having more people working with them means lesser fatigue and stress, allowing them to give better and more compassionate care as well as still allow them enough time for rest and bonding with family. The same applies for retired or semi-retired professionals who are still capable and are willing to render voluntary service. The goodness will simply create ripples of hope and that is something that is hard to put a price tag on.

In the macro-level, we are allowing communities to experience more unity and bayanihan and that is something we all direly need during these times. 

Who will benefit from this bill? 

As I shared earlier, practically everyone will benefit from it—especially those who are in dire need of personnel. These will include hospitals, local governments, schools, and barangays/communities.

In the individual level—especially those who had been rendered unemployed by pandemics and disasters—the assured income, albeit on a temporary basis, will mean a lot to them and their families.

Do you see any downside when this becomes a law? 

I don’t see any significant downside because I prefer to focus more on the benefits. There might be administrative challenges along the way but I have faith in people and our systems and institutions.

The issue that was extensively discussed during the House Health panel hearing on the proposed MRC end of August was whether the reserve corps should be composed solely of licensed medical practitioners, or if graduates of four-year medical courses should also be included. For you, which proposal should be adopted? Why?

In my version, I also proposed the inclusion of individuals who have degrees in the fields of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but who have not yet been issued respective licenses and/or awaiting licensure examinations in their respective professions. I think this is very critical because in times of pandemics—like what we are experiencing these days—some licensure examinations cannot be held or are being postponed. 

The practice of allowing unlicensed but qualified graduates to render services during emergencies or pandemics is also being done in other countries. There are many articles about this and I encourage you to also look at experiences in other countries. When we were crafting the proposed law, we definitely had to consider best practices all over the world.

Kindly cite the criteria/requirements before an individual becomes part of the MRC

I have shared earlier that the following shall become members of MRC if my version is enacted into law:

(a) have degrees in the fields of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but who have not yet been issued respective licenses and/or awaiting licensure examinations in their respective professions;

(b) are medical reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and

(c) public health experts, scientists, and non-medical volunteers trained for health, emergencies, and other necessary services.

The proposed law will, of course, carry the core principles only so more detailed guidelines are going to be provided in the Implementing Rules and Regulations. As early as now, the public is invited to participate in the deliberations on the proposed law, especially through their district representatives.

Once enacted into law, how will the bill eventually affect  Filipinos?

I have discussed the benefits to the individuals, community, and the country as a whole. I would like to end this by saying that at the core of the proposed law is a vision of nurturing citizens who are truly dedicated, nationalistic, and compassionate. I think this is the most important benefit of the proposed law—to be able to raise and celebrate citizens who will truly love and serve our country.


Author, HB 7274

Representative, 1st District-Northern Samar

Vice-chairman, Committee on Appropriations


[1]Aguilar, K. (2020, 3 Mar). 1,500 medical graduates eyed to help combat coronavirus menace. Available at

[2] Lopez, D. & Jiao, C. (2020, 24 Apr). Supplier of World’s Nurses Struggles to Fight Virus at Home. Available at

[3] International Labor Organization (2020, Apr). As job losses escalate, nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods. Available at–en/index.htm

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