Healthcare funding gap to get bigger if no sin tax increase —DOF

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 18, 2019   •   2472

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The Department of Finance (DOF) said there will be a funding gap of P62 billion for the recently passed Universal Health Care (UHC) if Congress will not increase sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

In a press briefing of the DOF and the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday (May 17), DOF Secretary Carlos ‘Sonny’ Dominguez III said there would be difficulty in implementing the UHC without new sources of revenue.

“If we do not establish new sources of revenue, we will not have enough funds to properly, fully implement Universal Health Care and ensure a better quality of life for all Filipinos,” he said.

He adds that if the increased sin taxes will be approved, the UHC can cover around 120 drugs to Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said raising taxes will also reduce consumption leading to better health for Filipinos.

“Sin tax is first and foremost a health measure. When the prices of cigarettes and alcohol are higher, it is harder, especially for the youth to buy these very harmful products. We can only reduce consumption by making these “sin” products less affordable to consumers,” he said.

Both departments also envisioned the Philippines to be one of the healthiest in Asia by 2040. They propose to increase tobacco taxes by P60 per cigarette and P40 per liter of alcohol.

“With 9 days remaining in the 17th Congress, there is still time to collectively take action. We look forward to the support of our counterparts in the legislature, during this crunch time. This is the final round, tapusin na natin ang boksing, (Let’s finish the fight)” Duque added.

Senator Manny Pacquiao filed Senate Bill 1599 which aims to increase tobacco excise tax to P60 per pack in the first year of implementation, and an additional nine percent each year afterwards.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 2177 raising tobacco taxes to P70 per pack while Senator JV Ejercito filed Senate Bill 1605 increasing tobacco taxes to P90 per pack.

COVID-19 cases in PHL breach 18,000; New cases mostly from Metro Manila – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country have climbed to 18,086 with 862 new cases reported on Sunday, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

The DOH said that of the new cases, only 16 are “fresh” or those results that came out within three days while 846 are “late” or results belatedly reported.

Of the fresh cases, six are from the National Capital Region (NCR), while the remaining 10 are from other regions.

Of the late cases, 238 are from the NCR, 81 from Central Visayas, 235 are repatriates, and the remaining 292 are from other regions.

In its May 31 bulletin, the DOH noted that the fresh cases are based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 15 out of 42 current operational laboratories.

“Late cases reported from May 28 to 31 are based on the validation of complete line lists from 27 laboratories and the partial line list from one laboratory. No more late cases will be reported until the remaining 14 operational labs submit their line lists,” the DOH added.

The DOH also reported seven new fatalities for May 31, bringing the total deaths to 957 while recoveries rose to 3,909.

In a virtual briefing on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the increase in reported COVID-19 cases since Friday means that its current validation process is much faster after they have completed the COVID-19 test backlogs.

“Sana ay naiintindihan niyo po na kahit mataas ang mga bagong naitatalang kaso ay hindi po ibig sabihin na lumalala ang ating situation. Nawa ay napuksa na din ang pangamba sa inyong isipan ukol sa kung tama ba ang naging desisyon na mag transition to GCQ [general community quarantine],” she said.

The DOH earlier said that one of the experts’ basis in recommending to shift Metro Manila and other areas to GCQ is the slower case doubling rate, which is now noted at seven days compared to every two days pre-quarantine period in March.

Under GCQ, more businesses and offices are allowed to resume partial operations, and more employees have been authorized to return to work, provided that minimum health standards are observed. Public transportation operations have also resumed but only at limited capacity.

The department, however, called on the public to remain vigilant and to continue observing health protocols such as physical distancing, wearing of face mask and maintaining good hygiene to curb the spread of coronavirus disease.

“Kahit nasa GCQ na tayo, hindi ito ibig sabihin na relax na rin tayo sa mga protocols natin. Sa Lunes, pagpasok ng mga may trabaho, paglabas ng bahay, huwag po kalimutang magsuot ng [face] mask, dumistansya ng isang metro sa mga katabi, magbaon ng alcohol para sa mga kamay,” Vergeire urged. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Duque: Pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto, ligtas basta’t matitiyak ang minimum health standards

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na ligtas ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 basta’t maipatutupad ang kinakailangang minimum health standards sa mga paaralan.

Inihayag ni Duque ang kanyang opinyon nang hingan siya ng pahayag ni Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sa isinagawang virtual hearing ng Senate Committee on Health and Demography ngayong Martes.

“Pag-aralan po namin maigi ito pero sa tingin po namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Ang kinakailangan po rito, siguraduhin lamang na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” ani Duque.

Kabilang aniya sa minimum health standards na kailangang masunod ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical distancing, palagiang paghuhugas at pagdi-disinfect ng mga kamay at pagkakaroon ng thermal scanner upang ma-check kung mataas ang temperatura ng katawan ng isang tao.

“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng ating pong mga paaralan at meron din po tayong evidence-based na atin pong titingnan gaya ng ginagawa po ng IATF,” ani Duque.

“We will continue to evaluate yung mga bilang ng mga kaso down to the barangay levels,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang public address noong Lunes ng gabi na hindi siya papayag na muling magbalik-eskwela ang mga mag-aaral hangga’t walang natutuklasang bakuna kontra novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa paglilinaw naman ng Malakanyang ngayong Martes, ang pagkakaroon ng face-to-face o physical classes in classroom ang tinutulan ng Pangulo at tuloy pa rin naman ang pagbubukas ng academic schoolyear 2020-2021 sa Agosto.

Kung mananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19 bandang Agosto, ipatutupad naman ng pamahalaan ang flexible blended learning sa lahat ng antas.

Kabilang sa paraang ito ang paggamit ng telebisyon at radyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga nasa liblib na lugar at hindi maaabot ng internet.

“Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal, at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, di po ibig sabihin na di na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na blended learning sangayon kay Sec. Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, ang radio at ang internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” ani Roque.

Suportado naman ni Duque ang mga plano ng Department of Education (DepEd) upang maseguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral.

Una nang sinabi ng DepEd na bukod sa pagsasagawa ng online classes, pinag-aaralan na rin nila sa ngayon ang iba’t ibang learning tools, work arrangement para sa mga guro at maging ang sistema ng assessment sa mga mag-aaral. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

DOF eyes tailor-fit tax, non-tax incentives to lure investors under ‘new normal’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is proposing a “more proactive” and “targeted” investment promotion strategy to attract the kind of foreign investors that the government wants to relocate here as part of the efforts to restart the country’s economy.

In a statement, Dominguez said these investors may be offered a set of tax and non-tax incentives tailor-fit to their needs.

Dominguez said the government should discard its old “one-size-fits-all” incentives program and shift to a demand-driven approach where it identifies the types of industries that the economy needs to flourish.

He explained that these incentives can be granted based on the specific requirements of the industry players that the government wants to set up shop in the country.

“What we should be doing is identifying these industries and then going to each of the companies–each of the leading companies in those industries around the world—and asking them: what do you need for you to come to the Philippines? Instead of waiting for them to apply, we should be going to them and offering them a package,” Dominguez said during a virtual press briefing held on the sidelines of the recently concluded online “Sulong Pilipinas: Youth Partners for Progress” workshop.

“These industries include those that are labor-intensive and thus create stable, decent-paying jobs; provide excellent technology transfers that improve the skills of the country’s workforce; and have stable markets,” he added.

Dominguez said the “obsolete one-size-fits-all” formula of attracting prospective investors has “failed to make the Philippines an investment magnet, with the country persistently lagging behind its Southeast Asian counterparts in terms of the volume and amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows despite being among the first economies in the region to offer fiscal incentives.”

He said the administration’s economic team and the Congress are now in the process of crafting a comprehensive stimulus program to revive the economy waylaid by the coronavirus disease 29019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

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