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RP-MCC compact provides $434M for 3 major anti-poverty, anti-corruption projects

Robredo stresses the need to involve civil society in governance

Army troops discovered NPA main camp in Northern Samar

Pinabacdao and Daram, Samar named ZFF beneficiaries

Cong. Evardone keeps an eye on power concerns at budget deliberation

Morong 43 relatives appeal for speedy Supreme Court action

TRO stops implementation of the Appropriation Ordinance No. 13-002 for Samar’s 2010 Annual Budget

Samar welcomes Multi-Sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT)

2 dead as a passenger bus fell on a mountainside in Maasin City

Gandara Mayor posts bail for gun ban violation





PhilHealth hikes quarterly premiums of individually paying members from P300 to P600

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 30, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Starting October 1, 2010, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will increase the premium contributions for new members from P300 to P600 per quarter.

PhilHealthThis was confirmed by Mr. Asisclo Militante and Mr. Renato Limsiaco, Jr., both Division chiefs of PhilHealth Region 8, during the Harampang Ha PIA held on September 30 at Gerry’s Grill Tacloban.

“Effective October 1, the contribution of new individually paying members will be increased from P300 to P600,” Mr. Militante said. “This will only apply to new, not current members,” Mr. Militante said.

Individually Paying members include self employed professionals include accountants, architects, criminologist, customs broker, dentist, dietician, engineers, geologists, landscape artists, law practitioner, librarian, marine desk officer, marine engineer officer, master plumber, medical technologist, medical doctor, midwife, naval architect, nurse, nutritionist, optometrist, pharmacist, physical and occupational therapist, professional teachers, radiologist and X-ray technician, social worker, sugar technologist and veterinarian.

Other professionals also included in the PhilHealth List are agriculturist, artist, businessman/business owner, consultant, environmental Planner, Fisheries Technologist, forester, guidance counselor, interior designer, industrial engineer, Media including actor and actress, director, scriptwriter and news correspondents, professional athlete, coach, trainor, referee.

Existing Individually Paying members and new enrollees shall register and accomplish the Philhealth Members Registration Form to reflect the member’s profession and income.

Professionals must attach the photocopy of their professional regulation Commission ID while the other professionals shall attach a copy of their business permit. If the declared monthly family income is P25,000 and below, a photocopy of the Income Tax Return shall be attached to the PhilHealth Member Registration Form.

For the first year of policy implementation, new enrollees whose professions are included in the list of PhilHealth shall pay P600 per quarter or P2,400 per year. However, for those whose monthly family income in the last 12 months is P25,000 and below, they will pay P300 per quarter or P1,200 per year.

For the succeeding years, said members shall pay P900 per quarter or P3,600 per year. However, for those whose average family monthly income in the last 12 months is P25,000 and below, they will continue to pay P300 per quarter or P1,200 per year.

For existing Individually Paying Members, the policy on the new premium shall take effect after completion of payment for the current year membership period.

For inactive and new members, the policy shall take effect immediately, per PhilHealth Circular No. 24, series of 2010 signed by Dr. Rey B. Aquino, the President and Chief Executive Officer of PhilHealth.





Bishops’ hurting is nothing compared to sufferings of women, says women’s group

Press Release
September 30, 2010

QUEZON CITY  –  Bishops’ reaction that they are ‘hurting’ on P-Noy’s recent pro-reproductive health stance got the ire of a federation of 257 grassroots and community women’s organizations with around 40,000 individual members nationwide that strongly pushes for the enactment into law of the much clamored reproductive health bill.

According to Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), people do not need to look far to know that women become sacrificial lambs in the name of the Catholic hierarchy’s obstinate rejection of modern contraceptives.  “Just within our organization, members have died or almost died because of the lack of access to family planning and reproductive health education and services,” laments Angsioco.  She said, “stories on the lives and sufferings of these women will make anyone’s heart bleed except perhaps the bishops’.”

Various reports reveal that eleven Filipino women, mostly poor, die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications, these are the same women who do not anymore want to have children but have no access to family planning information and services.  These are the women who suffer from risky pregnancies and give birth without the benefits of skilled attendants and needed medical interventions.

DSWP commends the President’s pronouncement on family planning and is looking forward to the fulfillment of his promise of providing access to contraceptives to the poor who want and need them. “P-Noy’s pronouncement with corresponding concrete action is a fulfillment of the country’s international obligations under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Angsioco.  She added, “as it is, the Philippines is miserably failing in meeting its goals especially pertaining to providing access to reproductive health services and lowering the country’s very high Maternal Mortality Rates.”

Angsioco also stressed that government’s provision of family planning education and services is also a fulfillment of the Constitutional provisions on the people’s rights to health and education.  “These are fundamental rights that cannot be surrendered at the bishop’s altar.  These are rights guaranteed by the country’s fundamental law,” she said.

To the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Angsioco has this to say, “the hurt you feel cannot be compared to the sufferings of women who die due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications and to the agony suffered by the families they leave behind.”





SELDA welcomes PNoy directive for review of Morong 43, urges immediate release of Morong 43 and other political prisoners

Press Release
September 29, 2010

MANILA  –  A group of former political prisoners, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), today welcomed the directive of Pres. Benigno Aquino III to Justice Sec. Leila de Lima for the review of the case of the forty three health workers, collectively known as the Morong 43, who were illegally arrested last February 6, 2010.

“The directive is a welcomed move. It is high time for Pres. Aquino to give due attention to the plight of the Morong 43 who are on their almost eighth month of detention. Their arrest was based on a defective warrant, they were subjected to torture, and they are being illegally detained. We emphasize the urgency of the review as well as their immediate release, for every day of detention is an added injustice and violation of their rights,” Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA Secretary General said.

The 43 health workers are among the 388 political prisoners who still languishing in jail despite the illegality of their arrests. Three hundred sixty one were arrested and detained during the Arroyo administration.

SELDA said the review of the case of the Morong 43 should be followed by the subsequent review of all the cases of political prisoners. SELDA cited the case of Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and consultant of peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley, who was illegally arrested last March 2010. Cruz is still under detention despite provincial state prosecutors’ orders to release her and to dismiss charges against her.

“The cases of Morong 43, Cruz and other political prisoners are emblematic of the continuing human rights violations perpetuated through the Arroyo government’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program. Addressing these issues, including the withdrawal of Oplan Bantay Laya, should be Aquino’s top priority,” Cabillas ended.





Barangay, SK election period starts

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 29, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The election period for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 25 officially started on September 25 and will last up to November 10.

The 30 days before the date of the election and 15 days thereafter policy is stipulated in Resolution 9019, or the Calendar of Activities and periods of certain prohibited acts in connection with the October 25, 2010 synchronized SK and Barangay polls, as approved by the Commission en banc.

The period likewise signifies the implementation of the gun ban nationwide. Under Resolution 9033, the poll body decided to re-adopt similar resolution issued for the May 2010 national and local elections to be implemented in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls next month.

"The establishment of said checkpoints complemented effectively the implementation of the ban on firearms and availment of security personnel last May 10 automated national and local elections," the Comelec said.

Gun ban violation is considered an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and removal of right of suffrage.

Meanwhile, 25 government agencies have been tapped by the Comelec to serve as its deputies for the forthcoming October 25 polls.

In its Resolution No. 9036, the poll body stressed that the Omnibus Election Code allows it to secure services of government agencies to perform specific duties relative to the conduct of the elections.

Leading the list are the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Finance (DoF), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Department of Energy (DoE).

The education department shall be the one to enforce all orders and instructions relative to the election duties and functions of public school teachers as well as the use of all public school buildings designated as polling places/ centers.

The finance department is tasked to make sure that all local government treasurers are available two weeks before and two weeks after Election Day so as to take custody and storage of election forms, ballot boxes, paraphernalia, supplies and materials.

On the other hand, the DOTC would be tasked to monitor the use, rental or hiring of transportation facilities by any candidate, political party, coalition of political parties, or groups or organizations in connection with the election campaign, including the amount paid for such use, rental or hiring.

As usual, the Energy Department is being tasked to provide uninterrupted power supply on the day before and on Election Day, until the termination conclusion of the canvassing of the election returns and proclamation of the elected officials.

The DBM will be tasked to make sure that no unlawful public funds would be released or disbursed while the DPWH, along with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), will be the ones to assist the Commission in removing and tearing down all unlawful election materials.

Also deputized by the poll body are the Philippine Postal Service Corporation, the National Telecommunications Commission, the Civil Service Commission, and the Commission on Audit.

Ordered to place all their land, air and water craft and communication facilities at Comelec's disposal, said the resolution, are the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the National Food Authority (NFA), the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Printing Office (NPO), and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).





Two celebrations mark Balangiga Encounter Day

September 29, 2010

BORONGAN, Eastern Samar  –  In what can be tagged as first ever to happen, the 109th  Balangiga Encounter Day was celebrated in two separate venues: one in front of the Eugenio S. Daza monument fronting the Philippine National Police Headquarters (PNP) at Camp Asidillo, Alang-alang and the other at Balangiga town plaza.

Eastern Samar Governor Conrado B. Nicart
Gov. Conrado Nicart

The former was done in simple rights with the Daza heirs and the sons and daughters of World War II Veterans.

Speaking before a company of soldiers of the Philippine Army (PA), the PNP, students, teachers and government employees, Governor Conrado B. Nicart urged the Eastern Samareños to be vigilant in the implementation of government infrastructure projects, unlike the American soldiers who were surprised at the sudden attack of Captain Valeriano Abanador and his civilian warriors that rendered the death of the foreign soldiers and several others wounded.

“We have heard about the $214M grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States, and we are happy about it because that would rehabilitate the province’s roads and bridges, but let us all be alert in the way concerned agencies would be disbursing this funds”, the Governor said.

He added that the war against any foreign invader is over but the war against poverty and corruption is not yet.

“I hope that the byword, “Farm-to-market funds usually becomes Farm-to-pocket” will be minimized if not eradicated during my time”, he quipped.

Meanwhile, Vice-Governor Sheen Gonzales concurred about Eastern Samar’s graduation from Club-21 but it has to be sustained thru the partnership of government and people.

“I hope that the courage and heroism which Major Daza and Captain Abanador executed in Balangiga in 1901 will be emulated by us. We will not allow tyranny to happen anymore in our midst because this was the very message that our local heroes transmitted to us with their sacrifices; hence let us not allow poverty to dwell in us forever, let us all work hard together to lift up our fellow Estehanon”, Gonzales concluded.

At the Balangiga plaza meanwhile, the program went a little later at shortly before 12 noon upon the arrival of guest of honor and speaker Congresswoman Lucy Marie Torres-Gomez with husband Richard.

Speaking from the area where he was seated, Anchor Caloy Capito of Radyo ng Bayan- DYES, who took the live coverage described Lucy to be young and freshly looking lady.  As expected, the lady legislator was swarmed with fans as Caloy continued to describe how Lucy appeared.

Before his introduction to Lucy, Congressman Ben Evardone mentioned that he is passing a bill for the US government to return the two bells which the Americans brought home as war booties; Lucy seconded Evardone’s promise, in fact she said, she co-authored the bill.  (PIA Eastern Samar)





DOH-PhilHealth targets 55,300 new members in East Visayas

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 28, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Department of Health and PhilHealth is targeting the registration of 55,300 new members regionwide especially the poor and the marginalized, DOH Region 8 Director Edgardo Gonzaga informed.

Director Gonzaga is referring to the October 2 nationwide massive PhilHealth registration which will be conducted in response to President Benigno Aquino III's marching orders to attain universal PhilHealth coverage in three years.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) in coordination with the Department of Education, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Interior and Local Government in the Region, will conduct the massive registration by setting up PhilHealth desks in public schools, municipal halls, all Philhealth offices and all DOH-retained hospitals region wide.

Among the PhilHealth registration sites are two in Baybay, Leyte; one at the fifth class municipality of Sta. Fe, also in Leyte; one at the Tacloban Convention Center and another at Robinsons Place Tacloban.

The regional health chief heads the task force, which is composed of the DOH, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd).

The DILG will help the DOH engage local chief executives in the enrolment of indigents in their respective jurisdictions as identified by the DSWD while DepEd will help create PhilHealth desks in all public schools to encourage students and their parents to register and become PhilHealth members.

The activity aims to enroll the remaining Filipino citizens who are at least 21 years of age and non-members of the program. It is also open to 18 to 20 year olds who may need to register; existing contributors who are still unregistered; those not issued their PhilHealth Number Card or Family Health Card yet; and those already registered but who may want to update their membership profile with PhilHealth.

The program mainly targets those from the self-employed and informal sector who comprise some 53 percent of the population and of which a substantial portion can afford to pay for health insurance as individually paying members (IPMs).

On the other hand, the low income as well as those without the means to pay will benefit from sponsorships where the national and local governments and other sponsors shoulder the premiums for their annual coverage.





Legalized jueteng revenues can fix classroom shortage – solon

And enable gov't to achieve Millennium Development Goal on education

Press Release
September 28, 2010

QUEZON CITY  –  The estimated P30 billion in annual revenues from legalized jueteng are more than enough to address the country's widespread classroom shortage, and enable the Aquino administration to achieve the Millennium Development Goal to put every child in school by 2015, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said Sunday.

Unless government quickly finds ways to mobilize extraordinary revenues, including potential earnings from legalized jueteng, Barzaga said it would be "impossible to send and keep every child in school inside five years."

"In terms of assured recurring non-tax revenues that can finance the construction of new classrooms, or the enlistment of additional teachers, nothing can match government's projected earnings from legalized jueteng," he pointed out.

Barzaga is author of a bill seeking to legalize jueteng and channel its proceeds primarily to support both basic and higher education, and partly to provide for a 25-percent increase in the salaries of local government employees and police units at the barangay, municipal, city and provincial levels.

President Aquino said in his first State of the Nation Address that his administration would need up to P130 billion to fully address the public school system's classroom scarcity alone.

However, in the proposed 2011 General Appropriations Act, due to lack of funds, only P12.4 billion has been earmarked to build a total of 13,147 additional classrooms.

One of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the Philippines and other United Nations member states agreed to achieve between 1990 to 2015 is "universal primary education."

The goal binds government to "ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling."

But funding issues have prevented government from solving the massive shortfall in classrooms and other resources that Barzaga said are key to achieving "100 percent primary school enrolment and completion" ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Citing official statistics, Barzaga said that between 1990 to 2008, the country's "net enrolment ratio in primary education" increased by only one-half of a full percentage point, from 84.6 percent to 85.1 percent, whereas the MDG target indicator is 100 percent by 2015.

He added that between 1990 to 2008, the country's "proportion of pupils starting Grade 1 who reach Grade 6" improved only marginally, from 69.7 percent to 75.4 percent, whereas the MDG target indicator is 100 percent by 2015.

Also between 1990 to 2008, Barzaga said the country's "primary (schooling) completion rate" increased only minimally, from 64.2 percent to 73.3 percent, whereas the MDG target indicator is 100 percent by 2015.

Barzaga said he expects government's potential revenue from legalized jueteng to be "incremental" every year. He said more people would embrace legalized jueteng, "since the draws will be totally clean, transparent and fair."

"Right now, illegal jueteng operators rig the draws. So it is not true that the illicit numbers game is a victimless crime. The mostly poor Filipinos patronizing it now are in fact being swindled in a big way by racketeers," he said.

As proposed by Barzaga in House Bill 3289, cities and municipalities would be authorized to operate jueteng or any variant of the numbers game within their jurisdiction, except the lotto. They may implement only one numbers game in their area, after due public consultation and deliberation.

City and municipal governments would openly conduct the draws, for all to see, just the lotto draws of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. All collectors and agents would be considered as city or municipal employees.

"This is the practical approach to eradicate the evils of jueteng and similar games. We have to integrate their operation into the local level, under the direct control and supervision of city and municipal governments, in such a way that every bettor gets an honest chance to win," Barzaga said.



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