Senate panel hearing on motorcycle taxi issues set on January 14
Robie de Guzman • January 7, 2020 • 514
MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel has set a hearing next week to discuss bills seeking to regulate the use of motorcycle as safe and alternative public utility vehicles.
In a statement, Senator Grace Poe said the Senate committee on public service will hold the public hearing on January 14, Tuesday to tackle four bills on motorcycle taxi regulation.
Poe, who heads the panel, said she would also ask for updates from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis which started in June 2019.
“The results of the pilot run will be an important guide for the committee in crafting the final version of the bill,” she said.
“Our ultimate goal is availability, safety and comfort for our riding public,” she added.
Poe also said that the cap set by the regulator on the number of motorcycle taxis and issues concerning ownership will also be tackled in the hearing.
The DOTr Technical Working Group (TWG) on motorcycle taxis earlier announced the extension of the pilot run of motorcycle-ride hailing services.
Aside from Angkas, the extended pilot run will now include JoyRide and Move It.
A cap of 39,000 registered bikers – 10,000 bikers per Transport Network Company (TNC) for Metro Manila and 3,000 bikers each TNC for Metro Cebu operations – was also set.
Angkas questioned the set limit, and claimed there was politics involved in the inclusion of JoyRide in the pilot run.
Poe hopes the hearing will find solutions to issues hounding motorcycle taxis, as well as other problems on the country’s transport system.
“The long lines of commuters waiting for rides leave no doubt that we need alternative public utility vehicles. We hope this hearing will help find solutions to issues on safety, legality and other questions that need to be threshed out towards an efficient transport system as a whole,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is recommending the formation of a committee that will look into the funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
The Senator laments that even the Department of Finance cannot determine PhilHealth’s state in as fas as its budget is concerned due to the agency’s weak information system.
Drilon wants an Ad hoc committee composed of financial experts from the Social Security System (SSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and other insurance corporations that will verify PhilHealth’s financial status.
This is to determine how much subsidy the agency can provide for next year.
One of PhilHealth’s officials previously revealed that the agency’s reserve funds will not be enough if the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues. The official also revealed the agency will only last until 2022 which was questioned by several lawmakers.
“How much really does it need in order to continue its operation? Is P71 billion the correct amount? Is it more? Is it less? This [the committee] will also give us the opportunity to review how much should be due to our health system in general,” Drilon said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III supports this recommendation. Sotto agrees that there is a need to review PhilHealth’s financial situation.
“We suggested yesterday that there should be an urgent and extensive review and inspection of the corporation’s financial life,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto assured that the probe on the alleged corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will push through amid the request of its president, Ricardo Morales, for a medical leave.
“It won’t stop our inquiry and other witnesses and testimonies from coming out. It won’t also stop the filing of charges against erring officials of PhilHealth if warranted,” he said.
Morales submitted his medical certificate stating that he cannot physically attend the Senate hearing due to his medical condition.
Meanwhile, the PhilHealth official lamented his privacy was not respected after his medical certificate was leaked to the public.
“As president and chief executive, it is my duty to represent the corporation while still physically capable. I regret that my privacy was not respected,” he said in a statement.
PhilHealth Executive Vice President and COO Arnel De Jesus also advised the Senate his inability to attend the said hearing due to a medical emergency. The Senate inquiry is scheduled for Tuesday (August 11).
Meanwhile, members of the Department of Information and Communications Technology will also attend the hearing to shed light on the issue of the alleged overpriced IT System budget of PhilHealth.
Sotto has also recommended putting the witnesses under the protection program of the Department of Justice. AAC (withreports from Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said that the scheduled investigation into allegations of “widespread corruption” in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will still push through despite a possible lockdown of the Senate building.
The Senate is set to convene as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, August 4 to delve into reports of alleged corruption in PhilHealth.
“Hearings will not be covered by our ‘ECQ’. Tuloy [ang] PhilHealth [probe] tomorrow,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
Earlier, sources said that the Senate will be placed on a two-week lockdown in support of the medical workers’ plea for timeout.
The Senate leader said the hearing will be conducted in a “hybrid” setup, which means that senators’ physical and virtual attendance will be acknowledged.
Resource persons invited to the hearing, however, will be required to physically appear in the Senate.
Among those invited to face in the probe is PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales.
“We seek to get the answers to the questions of how and where these funds were spent. The important thing, the bottom line is we need to amend the law. Apparently, we need to amend the law creating PhilHealth to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Sotto said.
Also invited to the hearing are PhilHealth Board Member Alejandro Cabading, former Head Executive Assistant Estrobal Laborte, and resigned Atty. Thorsson Montes Kieth, who claimed there is widespread corruption in the agency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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