Cigarette prices to increase more with passage of Universal Health Care Bill – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   August 16, 2018   •   6966


A man taps ashes off his cigarette into an ashtray filled with cigarette. | REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

MANILA, Philippines – The prices of cigarettes are seen to go up further as higher tariffs are set to be imposed on tobacco products to fund the Universal Health Care Bill, which aims to provide Filipinos with access to health services.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the increase in tobacco prices is due to the new round of sin taxes which will be on top of the hikes under the first package of the Tax Reform Law.

The tax hikes will be a major source of funding once The Universal Health Care Law is enacted. Over P135B fund is needed for the first year of its implementation and a total of P256B for the fourth year.

“Eighty-five percent (85%) of the incremental proceeds will go to health and 80% of the 85% share of the health sector doon pupunta sa PhilHealth at iyon namang bente porsyento ay para mapondohan ang ating mga health facilities enhancement program,” Duque explained.

Though the amount of the price increase still depends on the decision of the lawmakers, Secretary Duque believes this is a win-win solution for the health of the Filipinos.

He also supports Senator Jv Ejercito’s proposal to hike cigarette prices to P90.00 per pack. If the Congress approves the bill, the government will collect more revenue compared to the current P35.00 price per pack in 2019.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng proceeds po ng about P45B. Malaking bahagi nito mapupunta sa pagpondo ng PhilHealth para doon po sa mahihirap na walang kakayahang magbayad ng kanilang pagiging miyembro,” he added.

The health official believes this move would also save more lives and reduce the number of smokers. It would also save the government billions of pesos in treating sick Filipino smokers.

Our target is to really bring it down to the 14% level of smoking prevalence from a high of 21.47% pero iyang 21. 47% bumaba na rin iyan kasi nagkaroon na rin tayo ng sin tax,” he concluded. F

The World Health Organization has reported that 17 Filipinos are dying every hour due to smoking.- Aiko Miguel / UNTV News and Rescue

Gov’t officials not priority for COVID-19 vaccine – Duque

Marje Pelayo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has admitted that the year 2020 was the most difficult year for the Department of Health (DOH). 

“Basta ang masasabi ko ang 2020 is the most difficult year in the history of the Department. The most difficult,” he said emphasizing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the biggest challenge facing the global health care system this year.

“Even the most powerful countries talagang pinaiyak ng COVID-19. Lahat talaga umiyak dito. Sobrang takot, pag-aalangan, sobrang maraming mga unknowns,” he added.

Despite all these, the Health Chief is grateful for the public’s efforts to combat the virus, and that he hopes that a vaccine will be available by 2021.

“Hindi naman tayo natinag at patuloy naman tayo sa pag-unlad ng kapasidad natin across the five pillars of the pandemic response,” he said.

The country is now preparing its cold storage for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines as they should remain in extremely low temperatures.

Duque added that the government should also tighten its border control to curb the spread of COVID-19 especially in the face of a new strain currently affecting a population in the United Kingdom.

While doing so, the country must also expand its health capacity, its capability to flatten the curve of infection, and maintain balance between the economy and health of the public.

“So iyong equilibrium na iyan napakamahalaga po dahil gaya ng sinabi ko—yung goal dito is really economic recovery and normalcy of the lives of our people,” he said.

“So marami po tayong ginagawa yung five: prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration strategy in our pandemic response,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duque stressed that healthcare workers, the poorest Filipinos, and uniformed personnel are among the priorities for vaccination.

He assured that there will be no VIP treatment among government officials when it comes to access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Babantayan natin iyan kaya maganda po ang papel na ginagampanan ng media dahil talagang kasama po namin kayo na magmamatyag. We will look into this na wala pong mga tinatawag nating VIP treatment,” Duque said.

The Health Secretary still reminds the public to observe proper health protocols even with the availability of the vaccine so as to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH suggests face masks, other creative alternatives as ‘safe’ holiday gifts

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday urged the public to consider giving holiday gifts that will promote health and safety from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they are particularly suggesting giving face masks and face shields as gifts to help ensure protection from COVID-19 transmission.

“When planning for the holiday gift-giving, think of ligtas na regalo – which gifts can make them safe. One thing we recommend are face masks which may serve as a constant reminder to the recipient to wear one,” Duque said in a statement.

He also suggests giving gifts like healthy food and fruits, exercise gadgets/equipment that promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle, as well as improve body resistance against diseases.

Duque likewise recommends do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts to limit the chance of in-store shopping. He also noted that the best gift they can give to their loved ones is a safer holiday celebration.

“We can also give DIY gifts that will not require us to go shopping, like handmade cards, arts and crafts, or a video,” he said.

“Such gifts make it more personal and also keep you from going to crowded places, thus reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus,” he said.

The health chief also reminded the public to check the label on kids’ toys to determine its safety.

“When giving gifts to kids, always ensure that it is safe for them and check the warning label on kids’ toys,” Duque said.

Duterte defends Duque anew, sees no reason to charge him over PhilHealth anomalies

Marje Pelayo   •   October 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte once again defended Health Secretary Francisco Duque III from critics who link the latter to irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation Inc. (PhilHealth). 

“I have yet to find iyong sabi nilang idedemanda si Duque dahil may kasalanan (I have yet to find what they are talking about that could lead to filing charges against Duque for accountability),” Duterte said. 

“I have read the findings, and for the life of me, I cannot really find a good reason to prosecute an innocent man,” he added.

The president’s remarks come on the heels of Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim saying the government investigative body, Task Force PhilHealth, has enough evidence to charge other officials, including Duque, who were not included in the initial batch of officials that were charged in relation to the controversy. 

Duterte said he already read the TF’s report and found no reason to pin down the Health chief. 

However, Duterte confirmed that there are people advising him to remove Duque from the Department of Health (DOH); but he’s not buying it. 

“You know may mga tao na pwedeng ganoon (there really are people like that). You go for the safe side. And there are a lot of people who do it, ‘yang gusto na lang nila na mawalaan na ng problema (they just want the problem to go away). Ah, basta na lang ‘O sige, paalisin mo na lang sabihin mo.’ (So they just say, ‘Okay, just remove him from his post’),” he said.

“Ako po’y hindi ganoon. Ako po’y abogado (I am not like that. I am a lawyer) and I know what is probable cause and prima facie,” the President said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)


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