Tag: COVID-19

On the Philippine International Trading Corp. as a Procurement Arm

Utilizing the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) for the procurement requirements of several national government agencies may have to be revisited and stopped, not only to save on unnecessary expenses amounting to billions of pesos in delays and commissions or service fees.

Since the creation of the Government Procurement Service under the Department of Budget and Management, the PITC may have outlived its purpose. Initially, it was only used to circumvent the procurement of medicines, especially for emergency needs. But later, it has expanded into the procurement of other items like rice.

That said, it is only prudent that the government at least take a long hard look at the involvement of the PITC in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.


#PINGterview: P68B Skeleton Projects, Isantabi Muna sa 2021

In an interview on DZBB, Sen. Lacson addressed questions on:
* realigning P68B in ‘skeleton projects’ for areas hit by recent typhoons
* reports of getting COVID-19 vaccine

Continue reading “#PINGterview: P68B Skeleton Projects, Isantabi Muna sa 2021”

#PINGterview: ‘Uniform’ Appropriations for Several Districts Spotted in DPWH’s 2021 Budget

In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* P1-M ‘uniform’ appropriations for at least 42 congressional districts in DPWH’s 2021 budget
* need to prioritize vaccines, R&D in 2021 budget

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Bakit Malaki ang Tapyas sa 2021 Badyet ng PDEA at DDB?

Kung hindi pa isinasantabi ng administrasyong Duterte ang gyera sa ilegal na droga, bakit binawasan ang mga kahilingan o proposal ng DDB mula P520.4 milyon to P344.5 milyon; at ng PDEA mula proposal na P4.911 bilyon to P2.731 bilyon sa NEP?

Habang nag-issue ang Pangulo ng EO 66 noong 2018 para magkaroon ng multi-agency approach ang gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng PADS (Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy) kaya pinasumite ang 61 ahensya ng budget para suportahan itong strategy, apat lamang ang pinabibigyan ng pondo ng DBM ng P2.053 bilyon sa ilalim ng NEP.

Pati ang mga augmentation na ginawa ng Senado para sa kanilang 2020 budget ay isinama sa “FLR (For Later Release)” at hindi ni-release: P81.9 milyon sa DDB at P106.1 milyon sa PDEA, ayon sa DBM Circular 580. Dahil dito, nadiskaril ang kanilang mga nakalinya na at umiiral na mga PAPs tulad ng ICT training at pambili ng ICT equipment.

Tuloy dapat ang laban sa illegal drugs, may COVID man o wala. Kaya naiintindihan ko ang hinaing at pakiusap ng DDB at PDEA sa pagdinig kahapon tungkol sa 2021 budget nila kung pwedeng madagdagan ng Senado ang kanilang tinapyas na budget.

May kasabihan tayo: Tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib. Iyan ba ang nangyayari ngayon sa laban sa ilegal na droga sa kabila ng libu-libong napatay na mula noong 2016 pa?


#PINGterview: Mahiwagang ‘Addendum’ ng DPWH sa 2021 Budget

In an interview on DWIZ, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* DPWH’s ‘addendum’ in the 2021 budget
* Ombudsman Martires’ policies on SALN, lifestyle check

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On Sec. Duque’s Claim that the COVID-19 Pandemic is a Blessing in Disguise

Image Courtesy: PNA

Some people are definitely making a killing out of the misery brought upon our people by the coronavirus, coming as it does in many forms we cannot even imagine.

We have seen the PhilHealth’s illegal advance payments to unauthorized health care institutions and grossly overpriced procurement of IT equipment – not to mention its doctoring of financial records.

At the Department of Health, we continue to be confronted by issues we hate to hear, but which we now know anyway – the DOHโ€™s “double-the-price” purchases of PPEs and face masks and probably even face shields.

Yet, as we hear the Secretary of Health saying that the pandemic is a “blessing in disguise,” we know for sure we havenโ€™t seen the worse for our suffering countrymen, in terms of health and economic well-being.


What Filipinos Deserve: A Corruption-Free PhilHealth, a Competent DOH Secretary

In 2004, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III was PhilHealth president when it illegally diverted P500 million in OWWA Medicare funds to buy PhilHealth cards bearing ex-President and then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyoโ€™s picture with the acronym GMA (Greater Medical Access) and GMA Para sa Masa, Para sa Lahat. The cards were distributed to areas where they knew they would lose against the late Fernando Poe Jr.

After her 2004 “victory,” Mrs. Arroyo rewarded PhilHealth president Duque with an appointment as DOH Secretary.

Fast forward to 2020, where under new PCEO Ricardo Morales – and Duque as ex-officio chairman – PhilHealth tried to collect premiums from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), notwithstanding their classification as a special sector. This amid a flawed if not perverted implementation of its Interim Reimbursement Mechanism (IRM) for health care institutions handling COVID-19 cases, gross overpricing in its procurement of IT equipment, and the doctoring of its financial statements.

The Presidentโ€™s trust and confidence notwithstanding, Filipinos donโ€™t deserve a state health insurance that is so corrupt, made possible by officials entrusted with mandatory monthly deductions from hard-earned salaries of ordinary employees.

As for Sec. Duque, he has stayed too long in the DOH and PhilHealth in different capacities. He admitted in a public hearing that he has given his best but it wasn’t good enough.

More than public interest, public health is imperiled with Sec. Duque at the helm of DOH. Notwithstanding the trust and confidence reposed on him by the appointing authority, Filipinos deserve a good, competent, honest and capable DOH Secretary.


On Sec. Duque’s Promise to ‘Rectify’ PhilHealth’s Circular on IRM for COVID-19 HCIs

More than rectifying the wrong implementation of the IRM Circular 2020-0007, the accountable officers of PhilHealth who were responsible for the advance payments worth billions of pesos from March to July made to unauthorized HCIs like dialysis centers, maternity care providers, etc., should be made criminally and administratively liable for malversation of public funds (or property) under Art. 217, Chapter 4 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Sec. 40 or RA 10951, which carries the penalty of reclusion perpetua if the amount involved is in excess of P8.8 million.

The evidence supported by official documents and testimonies provided by resource persons who testified under oath so far gathered by the Senate Committee of the Whole during the three weekly hearings are enough to indict people responsible directly or otherwise.

Without tough punitive action against those involved in such shenanigans, we may never see the end of the vicious cycle of corruption that has plagued PhilHealth.


Continue reading “On Sec. Duque’s Promise to ‘Rectify’ PhilHealth’s Circular on IRM for COVID-19 HCIs”

#PINGterview: Katiwalian sa PhilHealth: Ang ‘Bigating’ B. Braun Avitum

In interviews with Senate media and on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* favorable treatment by PhilHealth officials of B Braun Avitum Dialysis Center
* discrimination in IRM, optional liquidation of funds and more questionable schemes
* Senate to share findings with parallel investigations by the executive branch

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Sinong Kampon at Sino si Satanas? More Irregularities at PhilHealth Bared

At the Aug. 11, 2020 hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole regarding corruption at PhilHealth, Sen. Lacson bared more irregularities involving issues such as the Interim Reimbursement Mechanism and procurement of IT equipment. He also called for a “special special audit” of PhilHealth – and called out a PhilHealth executive for alluding to investigators as “kampon ni Satanas.”

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