Philhealth to shoulder Covid-19 testing costs – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 11, 2020   •   972

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will shoulder the costs of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing that could be incurred by individuals seeking treatment of the illness, a Malaca؜ñang official announced Wednesday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said this is on top of Philhealth’s coverage for quarantine and isolation costs.

Nograles added the move is part of government efforts to address public concerns involving coronavirus.

“The President recognizes that everyone in the country is concerned about Covid-19 and the threat this poses to the health and lives of our loved ones, especially vulnerable individuals like senior citizens,” Nograles said in a statement.

“Given this, the last thing we want is for our citizens to worry about medical costs and expenses. Their only concern should be their well-being and the well-being of their families,” he added.

Nograles, a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, also shared that Philhealth is now in the process of formalizing and operationalizing the new benefit.

He likewise assured that the government is working overtime to ensure that there would be an adequate number of testing kits “in order to quickly identify and isolate those infected with Covid-19.”

“We are fast-tracking the deployment of these kits so these can be used at the soonest possible time. Per Dr. Destura of Manila Healthtek, the rapid diagnostic test kit for Covid-19 is set for field validation study, and that UP PGH and the National Institute for Health have agreed to support the study,” he said.

Some lawmakers earlier called on the government to immediately mass-produce the test kits developed by local scientists to accommodate the growing number of people suspected to have contracted the virus.

The test kits were developed by local scientists at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) through funding provided by the Department of Science and Technology.

Its use has been greenlighted by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday.

Nograles said local experts just need to conduct validation of 500 tests for coronavirus for the clinical sensitivity analysis as a pre-condition set by the FDA.

He said the NIH is hoping to secure approval for the field validation testing by Friday.

“Once it passes the clinical tests, the FDA will grant full access by all hospitals, as guided by the DOH,” he added.

The Philippines has so far reported 33 confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

As of March 11, the virus which originated from Wuhan City in China has infected 118,223 people, and killed 4,291 from 114 countries, according to World Health Organization coronavirus dashboard.

Alleged missing P15-B fund has been liquidated — PhilHealth

Marje Pelayo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Atty. Dante Gierran of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) insisted on Tuesday (January 26) that there is no truth that the agency is missing billions of pesos to irregularities and corruptions.

In August 2020, resigned PhilHealth Anti-Fraud officer Atty. Thorrsson Montes Keith made headlines for divulging alleged anomalies within the agency and claimed that around P15-billion was missing in the state insurer’s fund.

According to Gierran, they are finalizing the liquidation report as to where the said fund had been used.

Sa ngayon po, 92 percent na ang fully liquidated. So kaunti na lang (So far, 92 percent (of the amount) has been liquidated. Only a small amount to go),” the PhilHealth CEO and President said.

As for the delays in the payment of the agency’s debts to the Philippine Red Cross and other healthcare providers, Gierran explained that, like any other government agency, PhilHealth’s operation is also deeply affected by the current pandemic.

Aside from being undermanned, Geirran said incomplete documents from claim applicants are also delaying their validation process.

“One of the reasons of the delay, of course, we are under the covid regime,” he explained.

Lahat tayo napipinsala, mga kilos natin (We are all affected, our operations.) We are less liberated,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace tells AFP: Be prudent in releasing list of persons linked to Reds

Robie de Guzman   •   January 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday advised the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to exercise prudence in disclosing names of individuals tied to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the suggestion after the military drew flak for erroneously identifying some alumni of the University of the Philippines (UP) as supposed members of the NPA.

“Defense Secretary Lorenzana has apologized for mistakes. Let’s leave it at that,” Roque said.

“I can only suggest that they may be prudent para hindi na po napapa-apologize ang ating Secretary of National Defense,” he added.

The AFP Civil-Military Operations Office apologized on Sunday after it posted on Facebook a list of names of UP students who supposedly joined the NPA, triggering complaints over alleged misinformation and inconsistency.

The agency said it has launched an internal investigation on how the list got published and assured that personnel involved will be held accountable. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace hopeful US-PH ties to continue under Biden

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday (January 21) said the Philippines’ foreign policy with the United States (US) will remain under the administration of US President Joe Biden.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said both countries have similar priorities, including the interest of the citizens.

“Ang ating relasyong panlabas pareho namang consistent ang ating polisiya. Ang president po ay isinusulong ang indipendienteng panlabas na relasyon na ang inuuna po ay interes ng ating bayan at sambayanang Pilipino. Ganoon din po ang mga Amerikano (Our policies are consistent with our foreign relations. The president is pushing for an independent foreign relation which prioritizes the interest of Filipinos. Americans are also the same),” he said.

Roque noted both countries are also prioritizing their own national interest and independence as a nation.

“Isusulong nila ang pang-nasyonal na interes at siyempre po ang pakikipagkaibigan pero ang mga bansa ang kinakailangang isulong, ang kani-kaniyang interes (They are pushing for their national interest and of course, foreign ties, but the countries have their own interests to pursue),” the Palace official added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier on Thursday sent his congratulatory message to President Joe Biden for the latter’s inauguration.

“Our president, Rodrigo Duterte, sends his warmest greetings and his best wishes to the 46th president of the United States, Joseph “Joe” Biden and to his vice president Kamala Harris,” Roque announced.

Meanwhile, several political analysts said the Biden Administration might be more vocal regarding the human rights situation in the country, particularly the national government’s war against drugs. -AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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