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Duque to revamp Philhealth’s accreditation unit

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is looking to revamp the accreditation unit of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) in relation to the “ghost dialysis” controversy.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Duque questioned the committee for its alleged inaction on the recommendation to revoke the accreditation of WellMed Dialysis Center, the facility being linked to the issue.

The Health official said they have already identified the members of the accreditation unit who may have committed negligence with regard to the controversy.

“It is the accreditation committee where we think nagkaroon talaga ng oversight. That is the subject of the ongoing investigation,” he said.

Duque added that they are also looking into other operating committees within the Philhealth Central office that might also be involved in the multi-million ‘ghost dialysis’ claims issue.

“There is a possibility of connivance, I think, because it’s hard to believe that this will just be happening without somebody from the inside who knows how to circumvent, how to go around the processes of Philhealth,” he said.

Duque also directed Philhealth to identify which among the more than 7,000 claims made in 2018 may be considered as anomalous or fraudulent.

He also ordered for the list of hospitals and other medical facilities that might have asked Philhealth for dialysis payments of already deceased patients.

“I have instructed Philhealth to identify for 2018 7, 213 cases have been filed and how many of those cases account for ghost claims. Kasi marami tayong fraudulent claims, meron tayong multiple filing of claims,” Duque said.

“So ito, talamak din po ito. Ito pong ating mga inappropriate treatment or procedures being done na hindi sang-ayon sa clinical practice guidelines,” he added.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte asked for the courtesy resignation of some Philhealth officials amid the ongoing investigation into the controversy.

Duque said the President expects them to tender their resignation within Tuesday.

However, the health official said he will seek to clarify with the President on who among these executives have been instructed to resign in line with the chief executive’s order to allow the state-run firm to start on a clean slate.

He added that Philhealth officials will have to stay until their resignation letters are formally accepted by the Office of the President. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Duterte signs ‘Bawal Bastos’ law

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the ‘Bawal Bastos’ act into law which penalizes cat-calling and other forms harassment in public places.

The Republic Act No 11313 or Safe Spaces Act was signed on April 17 and was released to the media on Monday (July 15).

Based on the newly signed law, there will be heftier penalties for acts of cat-calling, unwanted invitation, and sexist slurs.

“The state also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational and training institutions,” the law states.

Among the harassment acts include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance; relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions; public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any unwanted advances. The law also covers online sexual harassment and cyberstalking.

There will be various penalties depending on the crime committed.

First degree offenses will face P1,000 fine for a first offense, including 12-hour community service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Second degree offenses will face P10,000 fine for a first offense including 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Third degree offenses will face 11-30 days imprisonment, for a first offense with P30,000-fine and attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar.—AAC

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Duterte wants OFW department up by December

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

One-stop service for Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs in side the POEA biulding in Ortigas.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants the establishment of a separate Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) by December this year to address the persistent woes with illegal recruiters and other concerns.

Duterte said the proposed department’s power will include strict regulation of Philippine-based recruitment agencies.

“Kaya apurahin ko ‘yang Department of OFW. Bawal na ang recruitment sa abroad — sa labas. Kung gusto nila, diyan sila maglagay ng mesa. So, under the supervision of government at walang horrendous charges. Hindi ako papayag ng ganun ‘pag natayo ‘yan,” the president said in a speech during the Araw ng Pasasalamat for OFWs ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo last Friday (July 12).

Duterte said he wants the framework for this proposal be completed by the second week of August.

He also warned illegal and abusive recruiters to shape up as they will no longer operate without direct government supervision once the proposed department is created.

“Kaya kayong mga recruitment, bilang talaga ang araw ninyo… ‘Pag hindi ko kayo nadala sa usapan na maganda, brasohan tayo. ‘Pag nag-brasohan tayo, kayo ang matatalo. Sigurado ‘yan,” he said.

In line with this, former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go filed the Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019.

Go’s proposal seeks the creation of the said department to serve as the umbrella agency to address all concerns of Filipinos working overseas.

The measure will also create an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund to provide financial aid to Filipino migrants in distress and provide livelihood loans for OFWs returning to the Philippines for good.

Once approved into law, the department will absorb the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, the International Labor Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

Currently, Filipinos wanting to work abroad need to go to different departments to secure necessary documents and present other concerns such as employment and technical education.

The neophyte lawmaker believes the president will certify the measure as urgent to swiftly hurdle the Congress before the year ends.

“I think it’s possible and doable naman po by December. Maybe the president will certify it as urgent. At ang gusto na mangyari ng presidente [ay] maiwasan ang illegal recruitment or maging biktima ng illegal recruitment,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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CHR asks PH gov’t to cooperate with UNHRC probe

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday called on the Philippine government to fully cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as it sets to conduct a review of the human rights situation in the country.

On Thursday (July 11), the UN rights council adopted an Iceland-led resolution which seeks a comprehensive written report on the Philippines’ human rights situation due to allegations of violations, particularly in the conduct of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

It also asked the government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

Eighteen countries, mostly from Europe, voted for the resolution; 14 voted against it while 15 others abstained.

With the adoption of the resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

In a statement, the CHR said that rather than “maintaining acrimony and the hurling of threats of possible consequences,” the Philippine government should open spaces for dialogue with other nations “to show that it has nothing to hide and is willing to adhere to the global standards expected of a member of the UNHRC.”

“It must show both the international community & our own people that it is willing & able to hold perpetrators to account, to protect all human rights defenders, to stop the killings, & to end impunity,” added the agency, which it says, is an independent institution mandated by the Constitution to monitor State compliance with all human rights norms and standards.

The CHR also reiterated its previous calls for the government to allow “thorough, transparent, and independent investigations of all alleged violations of human rights in the country by demonstrating to the world that “our local mechanisms are genuinely working and are sufficient to address demands for justice and the rule of law to prevail.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier rejected the Iceland-led resolution and warned of “far-reaching consequences” for nations who supported the resolution.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said the adoption of the ‘grotesquely one-sided’ resolution is an insult to the majority of Filipinos who expressed satisfaction with the kind of “forceful and effective” governance of President Duterte.

READ: Palace slams UN resolution as ‘grotesquely one-sided’ and ‘insulting’

President Duterte, on the other hand, said UN investigators should first state their purpose and he will review if they will be allowed into the country.

“Kasi kung magdagdag lang sila sa intriga, they better go to the media and the media will tell them the truth. Eh ipalabas ninyo ‘yung footages ninyong lahat and all, and that will clear everybody,” Duterte said.

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