NEDA: Gov’t sets in place firm policies on advancing population, development in Phl

Maris Federez   •   April 5, 2019   •   1578

“The Government of the Philippines strongly recognizes the interdependence of population and sustainable development.  Such recognition has been concretely translated into national policies and programs such as the Philippine Population Management Program established fifty years ago.”

This was part of the opening message of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia during the 52nd Session of the Commission on Population and Development in UN Headquarters, New York City, 1-5 April 2019.

In his speech, Pernia reported that “the country has achieved significant milestones at the outcome and policy levels even in the face of challenging political and cultural factors,” with Filipinos continuing to increase at around 2 million annually, even as the growth rate has declined to 1.76%.

The country’s total fertility rate has also gone down to 2.7 children, closer to the desired fertility rate of 2.4 children on average.  Adolescent fertility rate has likewise taken a downward trend. 

This decline in fertility rate has been made possible by the increasing contraceptive use for modern methods from 38% in 2013 to 40% in 2017.

Pernia added that President Rodrigo Duterte’s firm policy actions on population and development are expected to pave the way for the country to meet the goals in the medium term.

Among these actions are: “(1) the issuance of Executive Order No. 12 to achieve and sustain zero unmet need for modern family planning by 2022; (2) the inclusion of the full implementation of the RPRH Law as one of the priority socioeconomic agenda; and, (3) the approval of the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning,” the NEDA official said.

Pernia added that “the Philippines is no longer an economic laggard in our region. Our economy has been growing 6 percent or better for fifteen straight quarters, and at an average rate of 6.5 percent during the first ten quarters of this administration. This shows that we are on a higher growth trajectory.”

As part of the country’s socioeconomic strategies under the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022, the NEDA Chief said, the government is pursuing policy interventions to reach for and optimize the demographic dividend, with the enactment of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law; the continuing education reforms through our K-12 program; and the provision of free tuition and fees for tertiary students of state universities and colleges, among others.

Pernia, on the other hand, admitted that while the government has considerably advanced the agenda of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in the country, there are still gaps and challenges to address. 

He is confident, however, that with strong political will and resolve from the national leaders, the government “shall vigorously pursue strategic ways and means to ensure people-centered, self-sustaining development towards the realization of the ICPD agenda in the country.” – Maris Federez

DOH signs IRR of Universal Health Care Law

UNTV News and Rescue   •   October 10, 2019

Patients receive medical attention inside a hospital in the town of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province. EPA-EFE/JEOFFREY MAITEM

The Department of Health (DOH) has signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care Law.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III led the signing of the IRR of the UHC law or the Republic Act 11223 which was witnessed by various health sectors.

The said historical event marks the implementation of the UHC law following its publication.

Under the Universal Health Care law, all Filipinos will be automatic members of Philhealth as direct or indirect contributors and will equally benefit from the no balance billing (NBB) once they have been admitted to the hospitals’ basic or ward accommodation.

Secretary Duque stated, the implementation of the said law will be gradual due to budget constraints.

At least P257 billion will be the required fund for its first-year implementation, yet only P167 billion has been approved.

By the year 2020 to 2024, the department will be needing more than P1- trillion fund for the operation of universal health care.

Duque added that the Philhealth premium rates will increase by 0.25% per year from its current 2.75%.

Philhealth, on its part, will consider giving new benefits for those who are paying their contributions which will be different from the beneficiaries of the Universal Health Care Act. — FSG (from the report of Nel Maribojoc)

Lawmaker wants NEDA, DOLE to explain non-passage of anti-endo bill

Maris Federez   •   August 5, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Various militant groups march toward Mendiola in Manila to join the Labor Day protest against contractualization and to demand wage hike on 01 May 2019. (Rodel Lumiares/ Photoville International)

Senator Joel Villanueva wants to invite some members of the Cabinet to the Senate hearing on the anti-endo bill.

The lawmaker said he wants to hear the position of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on the vetoing of the said measure.

Villanueva said he is bewildered as to why the President vetoed the bill despite the series of consultations conducted by the labor department and the Chief Executive’s economic managers.

“We can’t wait to hear the officials from the administration, especially those who influence the President to veto the measure na ilahad sa atin kung ano yung reservation nila [to relay to us their reservations],” Villanueva added.

The Senate has yet to set the date of the hearing on the controversial bill. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Bato seeks to include substance abuse education in K-12 Program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 19, 2019

Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa has filed a Senate bill that seeks to include substance abuse education in the K-12 program.

Based on his Senate Bill No. 228, substance abuse prevention education should be included from 4th Grade to the 12th Grade. This aims to equip students with sufficient knowledge and information about the dangers of substance abuse.

“The youth, once involved in drug abuse will likely have academic, relationship and health problems. This leads to lower grades, dropping out from schools and having damaged physical, cognitive and emotional development,” he said.

Based on the data of the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are 4.8 million Filipinos aged 10 to 69 who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives.

The youngest drug surrenderer and youngest recorded minor rescued for substance abuse were seven-year-olds. —AAC

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