3 gov’t agencies in ARTA’s priority list for red-tape

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2019   •   353

MANILA, Philippines – At least three government agencies are in the list of “priority” agencies of Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) that need their immediate attention due to red tape.

ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica said the agencies they are setting their sights on are the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

Belgica said these offices are being focused on due to complaints, investigation results and confidential information.

He added that these agencies need reforms to make their transactions faster and less tedious.

“Nakita talaga natin na they really need to shape up because there’s really red tape inside these agencies,” he told reporters in an economic briefing Wednesday.

However, Belgica clarified that they are yet to thoroughly probe other agencies for red tape, adding that the body has only been investigating for over three months.

ARTA was created through Republic Act 11032, which was signed in May 2018.

It is mandated to ensure effective implementation of the law which is intended to remove red tape in government agencies and ensure the delivery of efficient services.

He also warned other agencies to implement needed reforms because some of them could be worse than the LTFRB, the FDA and the LRA.

“If we would say na they’re the most, marami pa ho kasing mga agencies na hindi pa natin na-thoroughly investigate,” Belgica said.

Meanwhile, ARTA revealed it is set to file a case before the Office of the Ombudsman against a provincial governor on Thursday for allegedly violating the Ease of Doing Business Act or the law that aims for optimal government transactions.

Belgica said the official was accused of delaying the release and processing of permits for some unknown personal reasons.

He, however, refused to divulge any more details including the name of the governor.

The ARTA chief said that since he assumed office in July this year, the agency has already filed cases against seven errant government employees and officials.

Belgica added they are also planning to conduct a weekly filing of cases against government officials who defy the administration’s order to deliver efficient government service and promote ease of doing business.

Belgica said violators of the Anti-Red Tape Act and Ease of Doing Business Act may face penalties as provided for in the law.

On the first offense, violators may face six months suspension while the second offense may mete out dismissal from service, permanent disqualification from holding public office, imprisonment of one up to six years and a fine of P500,000 up to P1 million. – RRD (with details from Rosalie Coz)

FDA issues health warning vs lollipop brand over unauthorized use of condom foil packs as wrapper

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the public against the purchase and consumption of unregistered Dipzy Cornpop Lollipops.

The said Dipzy Cornpop Lollipops under the company MM Lucky Multisales Corporation has unauthorized use of Durex condom foil packaging as lollipop wrapper.

“The FDA was notified by the company Baranda & Associates that Durex condom foil packaging is being used as lollipop wrapper by the company MM Marketing reflected on its label,” according to the FDA advisory.

“The FDA verified that the above mentioned food products are not authorized and the Certificates of Product Registration have not been issued,” the advisory further reads.

Concerned establishments are also warned not to distribute the said food products.—AAC

FDA asks LGUs to crackdown on unregistered ‘lambanog’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking local government units (LGUs) to enforce strict regulation against purchase and consumption of distilled coconut sap locally known as ‘lambanog.’

The request comes after reports that drinking lambanog with high content of methanol caused the deaths of 11 individuals in Laguna and Quezon.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hereby warns the public on the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages that have not undergone the safety evaluation of this agency,” the FDA said in its advisory.

“All Local Government Units and Law Enforcement Agencies are requested to ensure that these products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction,” the agency further said.

According to FDA: “Ingestion of product with an elevated amount of methanol poses serious adverse effects such as blindness, permanent neurologic dysfunction, and even death.”

On Monday (December 23), Mayor Vener Muñoz of Rizal, Laguna declared a state of emergency in his town to address the situation.

Muñoz ordered all individuals who have taken the concerned brand of lambanog to subject themselves into medical consultation.

Among them were Francisco and Delia who rushed to the center to verify their condition.

“Magsisiguro lang kami na makaligtas, (We just want to confirm to be safe,)” said Francisco Solqua.

“Ang balita ko walo na, siempre nenerbyusin ka at walo na ang namatay, (We heard in the news that eight already died and that worries us,)” he added.

“Gusto lang naming magpa-checkuo kasi nakainom kami noon, (We wanted to be checked because we, too, have taken it,)” Delia Monserat said.

Based on the record of the Rizal Municipal Health Office, they already have more than 300 patients under observation.

Symptoms of poisoning manifested among the victims include severe stomach pain, blurring vision, nausea and vomiting after drinking lambanog, according to Rizal MHO Administrative Officer John Michael Gangay.

“Based doon sa findings ng PGH sa ilan na dinala duon may nag-positive sa methanol intoxification, (Based on the findings of the [Philippine General Hospital] from those who were brought there, they were positive of methanol intoxification,)” Gangay said.

The municipal government has already ordered a temporary ban on sale and purchase of Lambanog.

“Kahit kami ay nabigla. Hindi namin alam na may mangyayaring ganito sa bayan namin, (We were also surprised that something like this happened to our place,)” said Antonio Aurello, Rizal Vice Mayor.

“We are doing our best para ma-extend ang tulong sa aming mga kababayan, (help to our kababayans.)” he added.

The Rizal PNP already seized all available supply from the store in Barangay Pook where the victims bought the lambanog while an investigation is ongoing.

“Iimbestigahan natin ito ng mabuti at posibleng magsampa tayo ng demanda laban sa may ari ng Rey Lambanog na si Mr. Fred Rey, (We will investigate this thoroughly and possibly we will file charges against the owner of Rey Lambanog, Mr. Fred Rey,)” explained Police Capt. Lindley Tibuc, the Chief of Rizal Police, said.

“Posibleng madamay ang kaniyang anak na nakapangalan sa DTI, (His son might be implicated because of the registered name in the DTI,)” the official added.

The manufacturer who is based in San Juan, Batangas has already ordered a recall of the lambanog from all its traders.

The supplier will face charges of negligence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.

A similar case of lambanog poisoning was reported in December 2018 where 10 persons died in Laguna, Quezon and Bulacan.

The FDA, meanwhile, advises the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming unregistered alcoholic beverages.

As of press time, only 14 brands of lambanog have certification from FDA.

“Retail outlets, and other dealers of alcoholic beverages, are warned against the sale of unregistered products which is a violation of the FDA Act of 2009 and the Food Safety Act of 2013,” the agency said – MNP (with inputs fro Sherwin Culubong)

FDA warns online shops that put prescription drugs on sale

Maris Federez   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has warned online shops that sell medicines and put prescription drugs on sale, especially this holiday season.

DOH spokesperson and FDA officer-in-charge Usec. Eric Domingo said that the agency has already penalized three online selling platforms for such infraction.

“It’s very rampant. At itong ibang na fine natin nakita na natin yan. Winarningan na natin. Tapos mawawala ng dalawa, tatlong araw iyong mga produkto tapos after a while babalik na naman. And then we have to remind them again na bawal. And we urge them na that they have to police their own ranks,” Domingo said.

The official also advised pharmacies to apply for separate license to operate and certificate of product registration from the FDA should they decide to also venture into online selling.

“Unang – una ang ating mga drug stores allowed lang kayo to sell the products within the premises of the store.  Kung gusto niyong tumanggap ng online orders you can apply for it as an extra activity with the FDA. But even then, may limitations iyon,” he added.

Domingo said the limitation is basically applicable to prescription medicines.

“Maaring mag- online, mag-order online ng isang kliyente nila pero kapag kukunin na iyong gamot kailangan pa rin niyang kunin sa pharmacy kung saan naka- store nang tama at ma- check ang reseta bago ibigay sa kaniya,” the official explained.

The FDA is still verifying several reports against online shops that openly sell medicines at a much cheaper price.

They shall be meted out with fines and corresponding charges. — (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

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