DOH lauds House approval of alcohol tax bill

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 15, 2019   •   1240

The Department of Health (DOH) has lauded the approval of House Bill 1026 or the bill seeking to increase taxes on alcohol products.

In a statement, the DOH said increasing excise taxes and other public policies on alcohol are ways to reduce pubic alcohol consumption.

“Increasing the excise tax on alcohol products is the best buy and win-win intervention for reducing alcohol consumption and increasing revenue for health,” according to the DOH statement.

The DOH has reported that the number of road and traffic accidents in the Philippines attributable to alcohol has reached a total of 10,372 fatal and non-fatal accidents from 2016 to 2018.

“The continuing partnership between DOH and the House of Representatives is certainly a positive proof that we are united in protecting the health of the Filipino people,” according to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.—AAC

House approves bill protecting consumers from fraudulent Internet transactions

Marje Pelayo   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) on Monday (November 23) approved on third and final reading House Bill 7805 or the proposed ‘Internet Transactions Act’.

The bill seeks to regulate commercial transactions in the Internet and protect Filipino consumers from fraud and abuses especially with the increase in online transactions due to prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic.

The bill applies to the following activities: 

  • internet retail of consumer goods and services; 
  • online travel services; 
  • online media providers; 
  • ride hailing services; and 
  • digital financial services.

The bill also proposes the creation of an e-Commerce Code of conduct which guarantees equal application of rights of consumers and merchants with all “honesty, integrity and fairness at all times.”

Accurate information about the goods and services being offered should be assured and should conform to the Philippine regulatory standards.

The bill also proposes the creation of an electronic commerce (eCommerce) Bureau that will be tasked to implement the provisions of the proposed law and will operate under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Its tasks include  implementation, monitoring and ensuring compliance to the Internet Transactions Act, among other duties and responsibilities.

As for ride hailing partners, the bill mandates riders or delivery personnel to treat customers fairly and honestly the same way that consumers are warned not to “shame, demean, embarrass or humiliate” them.

House probe on Ulysses’ floods to focus on finding solutions – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday said he wants the panel investigation on the severe flooding that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela areas to focus more on coming up with long-term solutions to prevent deaths and economic costs in future disasters.

Velasco issued the statement as the House Committee on Agriculture and Food sets to conduct its probe on Tuesday.

Velasco said the purpose of the probe is to establish facts that could lead to corrective actions, and not to find fault on concerned individuals and agencies.

“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” Velasco said.

“The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons,” he added.

Velasco said the congressional hearing will also focus on how to better address proper protocols and preparedness even before a natural disaster strikes.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent deaths and loss of properties from happening,” he said.

The panel has invited officials of the National Irrigation Administration and the local governments of Cagayan and Isabela for the hearing on Tuesday.

The inquiry was called by Velasco, together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, through House Resolution No. 1348 into the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.

The country was hit by a series of typhoons – Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses – from late October to early November this year.

Ulysses caused heavy damages to infrastructure and agriculture and claimed 73 lives. The typhoon also affected thousands of families in parts of Luzon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

 The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity following the onslaught of recent typhoons.

Duterte approves pre-payment negotiation for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Monday (Nov. 23) that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the Philippine government’s pre-payment negotiations for the COVID-19 vaccine with the United States (US) pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.

“I want to confirm that the president [has] already approved [this] pre-payment. If you look at our laws, may nakalagay diyan na iyang pre-payment ay papayagan kung mayroong (it is also stated in our laws that a pre-payment will be approved if there is a) directive of the president under this kind of situations that we have, like this public health emergency,” DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire, however, clarified that they still cannot disclose any further details as they have a confidentiality disclosure agreement with Pfizer.

The department said Pfizer and Bio-N-Tech already submitted their application to the US-Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization for the vaccines.

Once the authorization is approved, the US government will pay $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Authorities said that Pfizer’s Phase 3 clinical trials showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of COVID-19. It has also shown 95% efficacy and no sign of serious side effects -AAC (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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