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

Maris Federez   •   April 5, 2019   •   1929

“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

PhilHealth programs to continue despite deferment of premium rate increase

Marje Pelayo   •   January 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will lose up to P13-B from its supposed collection of premium contribution this year due to the suspension of the .5 percent increase mandated under the Universal Health Care Law.

But the agency ensures that all of its programs and services will continue through government subsidy and from the support of various agencies.

PhilHealth Spokesperson Rey Baleño also noted that a high percentage of members is remitting their contributions despite the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Mayroong P13 billion (pesos) na hindi natin mare-realize kung ito ay madedefer sa taong ito,” he explained.

“Ngayon umaasa naman tayo sapagkat ang commitment ng pangulo sa tulong narin ng iba-ibang mga ahensya na humanap ng pondo na kakailanganin ng PhilHealth na dapat sana ay mage-generate ng nasabing premium adjustment,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday evening (January 4) asked PhilHealth Chief Atty. Dante Gierran to postpone the scheduled increase in members contribution this year while the public is facing a pandemic.

In a statement, PhilHealth heeded the Chief Executive’s call and deferred the premium rate hike until Congress passes an amendment on the said provision of the UHC.

READ: PhilHealth defers contribution rate hike until Congress passes amendment on UHC Law

Should there be no new legislation passed for this purpose, the state health insurer will proceed with the rate increase as mandated by the law. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Universal Health Care Law must be implemented as approved — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   June 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The government must not defer the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, according to Malacañang.

Otherwise, it will constitute a violation of the Constitution, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said.

Roque specifically addressed the matter to the management of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after issues of anomalies surfaced against the agency. 

He said should the agency fails to adhere to its mandate, it would compel President Rodrigo Duterte to for a new leader who will be more capable to implement the law. 

Ang akin pong panawagan sa mga namumuno sa Philhealth. Kung hindi ninyo po mapapatupad ang isang batas na certified as urgent ni President mismo, dahil na ang nais niya magkaroon ng libreng gamot ang lahat ng Pilipino, gaya ng ginawa niya sa Davao, siguro po hahanap na lang ng iba na magpapatupad niyan,” Roque said. 

[I call on the leadership of PhilHealth. If you will not implement the Law that the President himself certified as urgent as he intends to provide free medicine to all Filipinos similar to what he did in Davao, perhaps he would opt to find another person who will do get the job done.]

Roque, however, stressed that his statement did not intend to threaten PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales. 

For his part, Morales assured that the agency has enough funds to support the claims of all members. 

“We started the year with about P130-B reserved (fund). So hindi totoong walang pera ang [It’s not true that PhilHealth is out of fund] but we were asking for P153-B for 2020,” Morales explained. 

Ang natanggap namin is P71-B. So may shortfall iyon pero kaya pa ng reserves namin iyon [We received P71-B, so yes, we have shortfall but our reserves can still back us up]. We’re okay for this year up to about early next year. We’re fine,” he assured.

PhilHealth is constantly coordinating with the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in case an adjustment is needed in the agency’s budget for next year. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mga OFW, may apela kaugnay ng dagdag-kontribusyon sa Philhealth

Robie de Guzman   •   May 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Umani ng batikos ang Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) sa ipinatutupad nitong dagdag sa premium contribution ng mga overseas Filipino worker (OFW) sa gitna ng krisis na dala ng pagkalat ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa social media, naglabas ng saloobin ang maraming OFW sa bagong direktiba ng Philhealth na taasan ng tatlong porsiyento ang kanilang kontribusyon alinsunod sa nakasaad sa Republic Act 11223 o ang Universal Health Care Law.

Sa inilabas na Circular No. 2020-0014, sinabi ng Philhealth na mula sa 2.75% noong 2019 ay itataas na ngayong taon sa 3% ng monthly base salary ang babayaran ng mga OFW na kumikita ng nasa P10,000 hanggang P60,000.

Ibig sabihin, kung ang isang OFW ay may buwanang sahod na $400 o katumbas ng P20,800, obligado siyang magbayad ng P624 sa Philhealth kada buwan.

Kung nasa $1,154 naman o P60,000 ang sahod ng OFW, kailangan siyang magbayad ng P1,800 kada buwan.

Kung hindi naman mabayaran sa tamang oras ang kontribusyon ay magkakaroon ito ng compounded interest na 1.5%, ayon sa Philhealth.

Binatikos naman ito ng mga OFW dahil anila, hindi nila lubos na napapakinabangan ang Philhealth benefits.

Umapela rin ang ilan sa kanila na sana ay ikunsidera ang kanilang kalagayan lalo na sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

Sa social media post, sinabi ng OFW na nagpakilalang si Kim na handa siyang magbayad ng Philhealth contribution pero sana ay ibaba ang antas nito nang hindi naman gaanong mabigatan ang mga Pilipinong nagtatrabaho sa ibayong-dagat.

“I know as a Filipino, responsibilidad namin mag contribute para sa ikakaunlad ng Pilipinas pero sana naman po hindi sa ganitong paraan na parang nasakal kami bigla sa laki ng babayaran na di man lang kami tinanong kung masakit ba yan sa bulsa naming,” ani Kim.

“Super malaking aray po iyan lalo na sa maliit ang sahod at maraming binabayaran, pinapakain at pinapaaral. Please lang po paki revise nyo naman po sana, ibaba nyo sa porsyento na parang di naman ikaka ngiwi naming nagbubuwis buhay abroad,” dagdag pa niya.

Hiling naman ng OFW na si Marlon Sarguet na naghahanap-buhay sa Melbourne, Australia, sana ay mabigyan sila ng opsyon at huwag gawing mandatory ang pagbabayad ng Philhealth premium rate.

“Hindi po ako payag sa 3% na pagkaltas sa amin kasi bilang isang OFW ay panibagong pabigat naman po sa amin. Sana po ay magkaroon ng option at hindi po mandatory. Salamat po,” ani Marlon.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ni Kabayan Party-list Representative Ron Salo, isa sa mga may-akda ng Universal Health Care Law, na suportado niya ang mga panawagang suspindihin muna ang pagpapatupad ng dagdag-singil sa Philhealth contribution ng mga OFW sa gitna ng COVID-19 crisis.

“As one of the primary authors and original proponents of Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, I support our OFWs’ call for a moratorium on the increase of Philhealth premiums in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” ani Salo.

Gayunman, binigyang-diin ni Salo na sang-ayon sa batas, natutulungan na rin ng kontribusyon ng mga OFW ang kanilang pamilya at maging ang mga Pilipinong mahihirap at walang kapasidad na magbayad ng health insurance.

Sa panig naman ng Philhealth, sinabi ng tagapagsalita nitong si Dr. Shirley Domingo na sumusunod lamang sila sa nakasaad sa Universal Health Care Law.

Ngunit dahil sa umiiral na COVID-19 health crisis, may inilalatag ang Philhealth na flexible payment scheme kung saan may opsyon ang mga OFW – pati na ang ibang direct-paying self-employed members — na bayaran ang kontribusyon sa loob ng isang taon.

Tiniyak rin ni Domingo na pinag-uusapan na ngayon ng Philhealth Board ang iba pang rekomendasyon at mga hakbang na maaaring ipatupad upang maibsan ang bigat na pinapasan ng mga OFW sa pagbabayad ng premium rate. – RRD (may ulat mula kay Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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