Senators urge change in bidding process for MRT maintenance system

admin   •   November 17, 2017   •   4250


MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III is not buying the idea of stopping or suspending the operation of MRT Line-3 just to give way for assessment and repair works.

“The public will suffer once you close [the operation.] As I was telling you, the problem is with the maintenance. If the [provider] is diligent and the maintenance work is [always] in full blast, those errors would not happen,” said Sotto.

For his part, Senator Gringo Honasan believes that aside from failure in the maintenance system, another problem is the government’s poor bidding process which hinders it from getting high-quality and reliable services.

“The President is right when he said the bidding process is one of the mothers or the sister of corruption. You get the lowest [bid] but you sacrifice the quality,” said Honasan.

The two senators believe the current state of the MRT trains and services cannot be accounted to the present administration only or to transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

“It’s a problem of cumulative errors in policy decisions. This is not the fault of a single administration,” said Honasan.

“He [Duterte] inherited a number of problems from the mismanagement of his predecessors,” said Sotto.

According to Sotto, the MRT problems are likely to be discussed in Senate once it resumes its deliberation on the request to grant emergency powers to the Duterte administration.

The proposed emergency power is now on second reading in the upper chamber of Congress. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

Sotto, Lacson want fresh probe into alleged PhilHealth corruption

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said a fresh investigation should be conducted into the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) following the resignation of one of its officers.

“There must be a full blown Senate investigation. Allegations and denials abound therefore diligence is necessary,” Sotto said in a statement.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire!” he added.

Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith resigned from his post in PhilHealth citing “widespread corruption” in the agency as one of his reasons for quitting. He also said in his resignation letter that the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipinos workers was “unconstitutional” and against his personal values to let OFWs “pay for the spillages” of the agency.

He also claimed that there is rampant and patent unfairness in the agency’s promotion process, and that his salary and hazard pay has not been on time since he started investigating Philhealth officers as its “anti-fraud legal officer.”

According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, he is now drafting a resolution seeking for an inquiry into the issue.

“I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday,” Lacson said in a separate statement.

Reports quoting sources said that corruption claims were the topic of an online meeting that led to a shouting match between Philhealth officials on Thursday evening.

“That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable,” Lacson said.

“Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law,” he added.

Last year, the Senate launched a probe into alleged conflict of interest between PhilHealth and the Department of Health. The investigation also covered DOH contracts that went to pharmaceutical firms owned by relatives of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales earlier denied claims of widespread corruption in the agency and called on Keith to substantiate his allegations. He also said that Keith only raised the issue after his application for another post at the agency was turned down.

Morales also denied the alleged resignation of two other PhilHealth officers due to corruption allegations. He said his head executive assistant resigned to pursue his doctoral studies while a corporate counsel denied any news of quitting his post. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Economic, infra clusters to hold pre-2020 SONA forum this week

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte government’s economic development and infrastructure Cabinet clusters are set to present the administration’s plans for recovery and resilience in the face of the coronavirus-induced headwinds this year at the first pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) forum to be held this week.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said that the forum titled, “Regaining Momentum, Accelerating Recovery in a Post COVID-19 World,” will be held virtually on July 8.

Hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the forum will be streamed live on the Facebook pages of the Radio Television Malacañang, and other government agencies.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said this year’s pre-SONA forum will be different as the audience will be “purely virtual,” due to limitations on mass gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We do hope that our citizens will be able to tune in as the country’s top decision makers discuss our path to a quick and strong recovery from this crisis,” he said.

In the forum, the DOF said that top economic and infrastructure officials are also expected to report on the state of the Philippine economy, as well as the government’s ongoing efforts to leverage on its strong fundamentals in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar will present performance updates and priority plans, respectively, on the economic and infrastructure fronts.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua will speak on the Philippine Economic Recovery Program.

“The audience can expect Secretary Dominguez to delve deeper into the challenges we’re facing right now, the accomplishments in the previous year that we can build on, and the legislative proposals that the economic team submitted for Congress to consider,” Lambino said.

Meanwhile, updates on the monetary, external, and financial sectors will be discussed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

Pre-SONA forums are held annually to discuss in greater detail the achievements of the government in the previous year and the priorities of the Cabinet cluster heads in the run-up to the President’s SONA on July 27.

Duterte administration gets ‘excellent’ net satisfaction rating in Q4 2019 – SWS

Robie de Guzman   •   March 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration’s net satisfaction rating from the public has risen to “excellent,” according to the fourth quarter 2019 survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released on Friday.

The survey, which was conducted from December 13 to 16, 2019, showed that 81% of the 1,200 adult respondents expressed satisfaction with the general performance of the Duterte administration, 12% were undecided, while 7% were not satisfied.

The pollster said the rating, which it classifies as “excellent,” is up by six points from the “very good” +67 in September 2019. It also matches the record-high excellent +73 that the current administration earned in June 2019.

“The 6-point rise in the National Administration’s overall net satisfaction rating was due to increases in all areas,” the SWS said.

Out of the 16 specific performance subjects rated, the SWS said the Duterte administration got “very good” rating on seven subjects: Helping the poor (+64), Fighting terrorism (+61), Providing information needed by the citizens to properly examine what the government is doing (+58), Having clear policies (+56), Developing a healthy economy (+53), Reconciling with Muslim rebels (+51), and Protecting the freedom of the press (+50).

Meanwhile, It received “good” rating on: Fighting crimes (+49), Reconciling with communist rebels (+48), Foreign relations (+47), Acting according to what the people want (+45), Defending Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (+32), and Eradicating graft and corruption (+31).

It was moderate on: Ensuring that no family will ever be hungry (+29), Recovering the ”hidden wealth” stolen by Marcos and his cronies (+25), and Fighting inflation (+12).

The SWS found that net satisfaction with the Duterte administration rose from very good to excellent in class D and Eracking up a +74 excellent rating in December 2019.

However, it fell from excellent to very good in class ABC, down from +78 in September to +68 in December.

Compared to September 2019, net satisfaction with the National Administration rose from very good to excellent for the rest of the basic demographics, except among 45 to 54-year old people where it stayed very good, and among high school graduates where it stayed excellent.

The SWS said the satisfaction rating of the general performance of the National Administration is based on a single question, and is not an average of answers to separate questions on specific subjects. 

“The general rating is repeated every quarter, whereas only a core of the specific subject-ratings are repeated. Subjects are included or excluded depending on their contemporary salience,” the pollster added.

The SWS said the fourth Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide.

Please visit the link for additional information about the survey.

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