Friday, May 29, 2015

J. de Asis family adventure at Zoobic Zafari and Ocean adventure in Celebration of the fourth-month birthday of baby Francelle Raleich

We celebrated the four-month birthday of our precious baby Francelle Raleich at Zoobic Zafari and Ocean Adventure, Subic in Zambales.

In zoobic zafari, our family visited Zoobic Park in a two-hectare forest wherein we trekked to see exotic, wild and semi-domesticated animals in their simulated natural habitat. We have seen the wonderful pet and fed wonderful animals -parakeets, bearcats, camels to name a few.

In Savannah, we have seen the sanctuary of the wild that features a wide range of ostriches, potbellies, wild boars, and guinea fowls.

We got inside the Serpentarium and saw an old ammunition bunker and saw a showcase of various species of reptiles like snakes, lizards and turtles.

The Rodent World Features an amazing collection of rodents.

In animal MuZOOeum, we have seen rare collection of real stuffed animals, bone collections and preserved animal skin.

We also saw the Close Encounter, a facility that allows one to take a close look at our Siberian-Bengal tigers only 2 feet away!

In Tiger Safari, we sat in a train safari jeep and entered a two-hectare enclosed area. We have experienced the thrill of being chased by full-grown tigers on the loose!

We have a Bird Walk Experience and chances to feed the parakeets/love birds on the palm of our hands and so lovely and beautiful.

We entered at the Aetas' Trail and chance to see the beauty of our Native Aeta Brothers' culture as they performed some of their traditional dances.

In Croco loco place, we have the chance to feed crocodiles! It's amazing and wonderful family adventure and bonding.

At the Ocean Adventure, we learned a lot to love, save creatures and our environment. We learned how to make a fire with only bamboo from our Aeta friends. We encountered some amazing creatures like binturong, bat, python, and scops owl. All animals you’ll meet are from the Wildlife in Need Rescue Center.

The speakers said that those animals were sick, injured, some are abandoned and nursed back to health.

Their message is to respect and protect their cousins in the wild, and they are the best teachers you could imagine.

We, proceeded at the Balancing Act Featuring World-Class Acrobats from Kenya and watched their unbelievable display of agility, strength and mind-blowing moves that’ll keep your cameras shooting as fast as your fingers can click.

We have watched the three dolphins and three sea lions. We admired their intelligence and were thrilled by their uniqueness and truly amazing stunts.

At the Ocean discovery acquarium, we discovered the myriad of plants and sea creatures that inhabit the waters of Subic Bay and the South China Sea – without getting wet.

Thanks to our Lord Almighty for having a happy family and keeping us safe and healthy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Drilon urges liberal parliamentarians: Address misconceptions on liberalism, avert ‘credibility crisis’

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon last week challenged liberal parliamentarians across the globe to show that liberalism remains the best guiding principle for nations towards positive political and economic reforms, in order to avert a “crisis of credibility.”

“Liberalism is said to be the ideology of the 21st century, but why does it appear to be in retreat? If liberals can offer the best solutions to the problems confronting the world today, why are we losing elections to conservatives, populists, and ultranationalists? What are we doing wrong, and how can we address this?” he said in his welcome address before liberal members of parliament from all over the world.

Drilon, who is also IPU Executive Vice President and former chairperson of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), hosted the dinner reception of the 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) attended by Liberal parliamentarians from Belgium, Botswana, Cambodia, Canada, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ireland, Lithuania, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Africa in Hanoi, Vietnam on 27 March 2015.

He said that one possible cause of liberalism’s current crisis is the inability to correct the misconceptions about it, particularly in relation to liberalism’s effects to national economies.

“The problem is that we liberals have not been very aggressive in answering the accusations against us, despite our knowledge of empirical evidence to the contrary.” For example, Drilon said, numerous multi-country studies in the past had found that “the group of the poorest and least growing countries is almost totally identical with those who have not opened their economies and constantly interfere with the freedom of the people.”

“The per capita income in the economically freest countries is almost 10 times as high as in the least free. Gross domestic product is highest in countries with the best ranking for protection of rights to property. Long-term prosperity is positively correlated with stable, constitutional conditions (rule of law),” he added.

Drilon said that these findings show that “liberal policies have been more successful in addressing wealth inequality than various policies which forward state intervention.”

“It is time that we liberals become more vocal about this, and face the criticisms against us, head-on,” he added.

Drilon also said that the contributions of liberalism to modern society are enormous, adding that its core principles are embodied in the most important documents of modern times. “The principles that we hold dear today, including freedom, equality, human rights, democracy, rule of law, good governance, and fair competition, can be traced directly to the liberal ideology,” he said.

 “Provided liberalism does not abandon its fundamental principle – the principle of freedom – I have no doubt that liberalism can surmount this challenge,” Drilon added.

The 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was organized by Liberal International (LI) and the CALD, with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). Themed “Liberalism in the 21st Century,” the Hanoi event was an integral part of a consultation and reflection process, which aimed to understand better the challenges faced by liberals and offer possible joint solutions as it hoped to encourage liberals to “walk the talk” and stand for the true value of liberalism amidst its contemporary challenges.

Modernization law should be PAGASA's 150th birthday gift

MANILA-The Senate will soon begin floor debates on a bill upgrading PAGASA’s equipment, staff pay, research capabilities and communication reach which its author says “is the best birthday gift on the weather bureau’s 150th year .”

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the bill modernizing the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) will be reported out the moment the Senate resumes its sessions in May.

Recto, who also chairs the Senate science and technology panel, said “the ferocious, fickle and frequent storms” climate change brings call for “a strengthened weather agency which can warn and guide the public on how to respond to threats to lives and properties.”

“A key component of climate change preparation is a well-equipped weather bureau, manned by highly-competent and well-compensated professionals,” Recto said.

“We want a modern PAGASA that can warn us about typhoons and weather disturbances coming our way and which has a working environment which prevents forecasters from leaving the Philippine area of responsibility,” Recto said.
The bill Recto will recommend for approval will have seven modernization components :  equipment and operational techniques, data center, information services, human resources,  regional  and field weather presence, research and global linkages.

“The idea is to adequately arm PAGASA so it can give us adequate and up-to-date weather information to help us prepare for, and to be protected from, typhoons, floods, landslides, storm surges, El Nino, and extreme climatic events,” Recto said.

The cost of immediately needed equipment and buildings is P3.9 billion, based on a “preliminary shopping list” PAGASA has submitted to the Senate.

To finance this, as well as future needs, the Senate bill will tap both budgetary and “off-budget” sources. Included in the latter is a proposed P3 billion from the net income of PAGCOR, to be taken from the 50% share of the national government, which in 2013 was P13 billion.

“If we need to get it from gaming revenues, so be it. We need the money so we don't have to roll the dice in predicting if it will rain tomorrow,” he said.

Recto said investments in PAGASA dwarf the “damages caused by typhoons in this climate change-era when they’re coming in at unexpected places, unexpected strengths, and unexpected times.”

“ ‘Yang P4 billion na initially hinihingi ng PAGASA ay maliit kumpara sa P116 billion in combined damages to property and infrastructure ng apat na bagyo pa lang, ang Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, Yolanda noong 2013 and Glenda last year,” the senator said.
The Philippines ranks 2nd in the world as the most disaster-risk country, according to the World Risk Index 2014, a report of the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security and the German Alliance Development Works.

Also envisioned in PAGASA’s modernization is for the agency to effectively market and disseminate information it has generated “even at pinpointed local areas,” Recto said.

“Going local” is also the principle that will drive its equipment modernization, Recto stressed.  “It is specified in the bill that PAGASA has to expand its regional reach, provincial presence and field services.”

At present, this need is serviced by a string of 10 Doppler radars from Aparri, Cagayan to Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Five more are being built.

“But we all know that equipment is only as good as the people manning it, and the bill creates a package that will reward and train PAGASA personnel,” Recto said.
Under the measure, a new salary scale for PAGASA personnel will be drawn up, Recto said. “It will also provide a ‘personnel retention incentive,’ representing a portion of the base pay, for meteorologists and forecasters.”

Training incentives shall come in the form of scholarship grants.

One of the oldest government agencies, PAGASA traces its beginnings to January 1865, when two Jesuits started recording daily weather data in the Observatorio Meteorologico of the Ateneo in Intramuros. The observatory soon became a public institution through a Spanish royal decree.

At present, PAGASA has a total of 1,034 staff positions. For 2015, it has a budget of P3.4 billion, P2.5 billion of which is for capital outlays.

Recto said PAGASA’s mandate goes beyond hourly weather bulletins during storms.

“It is not a foul-weather friend.  Its inputs are needed in polices and preparedness plans dealing with water resources management, agriculture, transportation, health, tourism and other sectors,” he said.

“Planting intentions, holiday plans, construction schedules are weather-dependent. To achieve this, we need a dependable weather service,” Recto said. 

Legarda On Earth Hour: Small Acts Can Protect The Planet

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda urged the public to support the global movement to simultaneously switch off lights for one hour on March 28 (Saturday), 8:30pm local time, in observance of the 2015 Earth Hour.

“The Earth Hour campaign shows us what each citizen can do. It tells us that every individual is capable of protecting our planet. Small acts cannot be underestimated because these small acts, when put together, create big changes,” Legarda stressed.

Legarda, author of the Climate Change Act, encouraged all Filipinos to show our solidarity with the rest of the world in an effort to save energy, reduce carbon emission and raise awareness on sustainability and environmental challenges.  

“People are oftentimes overwhelmed with the gargantuan task of protecting the environment, without realizing that the small acts ignite greater action and result in significant achievements,” she said.

Legarda added, “By participating in Earth Hour, we are showing our commitment to create more sustainable and resilient communities. We only have to take that one important step, which is to take action, to save and protect our planet.”

The Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The following year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched the international Earth Hour. More than 400 cities in 35 countries, including the Philippines, joined the campaign. Now, more than 7,000 cities are involved.

Legarda noted that the Philippines has been regarded as an Earth Hour Hero Country for registering a high number of participating towns and cities and for its staunch support to the campaign.

In 2009, 647 cities and towns in the Philippines and an estimated 15 million Filipinos participated in the Earth Hour, saving 611 Megawatt-Hours of electricity during the one-hour period.

In 2013, records from the Visayan Electric Company in Cebu alone showed a reduction of 11 MW during the time of the event.

“Saving on electricity, using low carbon technologies, conserving water, eating local food, planting more trees, among others, are just some of the simple ways by which we can significantly contribute to protecting our Earth. The results of Earth Hour are clear enough to show what people can do when we work together,” Legarda concluded.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Channel SK's P7.7B fund to grassroots anti-hunger projects

MANILA-President Aquino’s signing last Wednesday of Republic Act 10656 which moves anew the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to Oct. 2016 creates the opportunity for channeling P7.7 billion in SK funds toward anti-hunger projects, Sen. Ralph Recto said today.

The P7.7 billion represents the SKs’ 10 percent share from the P76.7 billion in Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) barangays will be getting from the national government this year, the senator explained.

Recto said the amount can be used by barangays for child-feeding and for other programs that can cut malnutrition rates.

“If there’s a dividend to be gained from the postponement, then it should come in the form of children’s meals,” Recto said.

Although a series of election postponements has left SKs without officers, the law requiring that 10% of barangay funds be used for youth development programs, however, is still in effect.    

Even the law signed Wednesday reaffirmed a provision in the previous SK poll postponement law, RA 10632, requiring the Sangguniang Barangay to continue spending the SK fund “solely for youth development programs,” the senator pointed out.

Recto said Malacanang can “officially encourage the use of SK funds for nutrition projects by ordering the appropriate agencies to issue circulars recommending to barangays that feeding projects be prioritized.”

“The right of the barangays to select projects will remain. The circular will just provide strong guidance. But even as a ‘food for thought’, it can mobilize resources to that area,” Recto said.

Using SK funds for feeding programs in barangay day care centers “will address the two important challenges of promoting literacy and nutrition at the same time,” Recto said, in citing one example which can be funded by SK money.

“Or it can tackle the supply side by sponsoring the cultivation of vegetable plots, establishment of food banks, or even education drives that will warn against unhealthy food,” he said.

Doing so would allow SK funds to augment two national programs on cutting child malnutrition, Recto said.

Under the 2015 national budget, the DepEd is allocated P2.8 billion to provide meals to 1.93 million undernourished gradeschoolers.

The DSWD, on the other hand, will get P3.36 billion for a supplemental feeding program covering 2.5 million two- to five-year olds enrolled in day care centers or are wards of neighborhood associations.

Despite increasing huge state allocations, hunger persists, with the Social Weather Station reporting that 3.8 million families, or nearly 18% of total, experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2014.  

The most recent National Nutrition Survey paints a disturbing picture of 3 in 10 children 5 years below to be stunted, and 1 in 5 are underweight.       

Recto said the SK share of P7.7 billion is three times bigger than the 2015 appropriations for the Department of Tourism, twice that of the Department of Trade and Industry, six times that of the Civil Service Commission, and bigger than the combined budget of the 26 state universities and colleges in the Visayas.

The IRA represents the 40 percent share of local governments from internal revenues collected by the national government three years before. 

For this year, total IRA is P389.8, with the 81 provinces getting P91 billion; 144 cities sharing P89.2 billion; 1,478 towns, P132.9 billion; and 41,899 barangays, P76.7 billion.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


MANILA-Fifty-one years after its 1964 participation in the Venice Art Biennale, the Philippines finally returns to one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art, with the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda.

Patrick Flores’ curatorial proposal titled Tie A String Around the World was chosen by a panel of distinguished experts from among 16 submissions as the Philippine representative in the 56th International Art Exhibition organized by La Biennale di Venezia, which will run from May 9 to November 22, 2015 in Venice, Italy.

Flores’ work moves around Manuel Conde’s 1950 classic Genghis Khan, co-written and designed by Carlos Francisco and screened at the Museum of Modern Art at the Venice Film Festival in 1952, where it competed with the films of Chaplin, Clement, Fellini, Bergman, and Mizoguchi.

“Being the most lucid mirrors of sensibility, harnessing the arts in this Philippine entry can be a most effective and peaceful way of enabling other people to see the world as Filipinos perceive it,” said NCCA Chairman Felipe M. de Leon, Jr. who also serves as Commissioner for the Philippine Pavilion.

The newly-restored film will be exhibited at the Philippine pavilion, which will occupy three rooms at the European Cultural Centre-Palazzo Mora, and will be positioned in conversation with the contemporary art projects of intermedia artist Jose Tence Ruiz and filmmaker Mariano Montelibano III.

The Pavilion seeks to initiate discussion on the history of the sea and its relationship with the current world, claims to patrimony, and the struggle of nation-states over vast and intensely contested nature.

De Leon further stated that Filipino values “if vividly expressed and vigorously promoted through the arts, can help make the world a more peaceful, creative and inspiring place to live in. The present Philippine participation in this prestigious Biennale is a grand undertaking in this direction.”

Meanwhile, DFA Secretary Albert F. del Rosario stressed, “Culture, viewed as a tool of statecraft, is a compelling element in projecting a country’s status or power. As art lovers and culture watchers the world over converge in Venice this year, and with nearly 100 other countries expected to take part in the Biennale, the Philippines’ participation provides an invaluable opportunity to foster greater mutual understanding and more active people-to-people exchanges through culture.“

Senator Legarda, principal advocate of the project, also expressed jubilation over the country’s participation to the Biennale after five long decades of absence. “It has been 50 years since we last joined this prestigious contemporary art exhibition. We have many talented Filipino artists worthy to be given the chance to showcase their talent in this event. Furthermore, we should also take this opportunity as a platform to engage the international community at a cultural level. I am confident that our artistry and culture would leave other nations in awe.”

Legarda explained that Tie A String Around the World was chosen for its “poetic and political reflection on the history of world making, the links between geography and politics, and the notions of nation, territory and archipelago.”

Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is considered by many as the “Olympics of contemporary art” that exhibits global trends and engages in critical discourse. For the past century, it has become the breeding ground for world-renowned artists and has played a pivotal role in shaping the canon of art history. In 2013, it has attracted over 475,000 visitors which made it the most visited art exhibition in Italy.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Legarda: Proper Waste Management, A Way To Carbon Fast

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda encouraged Filipino Catholics who will observe the Holy Week to affirm their role as stewards of God’s creation through environment-friendly practices, such as proper solid waste management.

Legarda said that undertaking environment-friendly activities is a way to carbon fast and reconcile with the environment, which has been greatly abused and exploited.

“We are the stewards of God’s creation and as such, we are tasked to protect, not harm, our environment. We should adopt an environment-friendly lifestyle and learn to carbon fast starting this Holy Week. My appeal to carbon fast goes not only to Catholics, but to everyone regardless of faith. A simple way to start is by practicing ecological solid waste management, beginning with segregation at source,” she said.

Legarda, who is the principal sponsor and author of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, shared how segregation at source can be done.

Every household should have one trash can for biodegradable and food waste; one trash can for recyclables or residual waste; and another for special or hazardous waste, busted lamps, radio and cellphone batteries. For paper that can be recycled, these can be placed flat in a box or in a paper bag.

When going to market or the grocery, bring containers to avoid using plastic bags. Reusable containers can be used in purchasing fish, meat and other poultry products; while bayong and reusable cloth bags can be used for dry items.

“To our local leaders from the provincial, city and municipal levels down to the barangay, greater action is expected as they are tasked to implement the law. It is the barangay that must collect all segregated waste, which should go to the barangay Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for proper waste management,” Legarda explained.

Biodegradable waste goes to composting, animal feeds or biogas; while recyclables go to the junk shops. Only residual waste should be collected by the city or municipal truck.

Meanwhile, special or hazardous waste will go to the city/municipal MRF for proper treatment or disposal in coordination with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

“Ecological solid waste management may seem difficult at first especially since many are not yet used to it, but let us take it as a simple sacrifice that would make our surroundings cleaner, safer and healthier. It should be easy if we all strive to make it work and if we care enough for our environment, for our children, and for all of God’s creation,” Legarda concluded.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on the MILF report on the Mamasapano incident

MANILA-While the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) claimed in its report that it did not use excessive force during the Mamasapano clash, the brutal death of 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force (vis-à-vis 17 or 18 from their ranks) clearly belies such assertion.
The obliteration and gruesome execution of nearly all ground forces who entered Tukanalipao in lawful pursuit of terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman is indicative of a startling overkill by a group who is attempting to forge a peace pact with the government.
It is lamentable that the MILF failed to own up any responsibility in the bloody incident (except for failure of intelligence gathering) and conveniently blamed the SAF for the lack of coordination, whereas the PNP in its separate investigation honorably admitted to its own share of operational lapses and recognized command accountability up to the highest ranking official.
The MILF leadership failed to take charge over their members as they went trigger happy against policemen over a legitimate counterterrorism operation and to exercise respectable control over their area which became the hideout for international criminals.
To my mind, the MILF through its actions on the Mamasapano massacre lost serious ground in peace negotiations and eroded its own credibility in becoming the government’s partner in attaining peace and security in Mindanao.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Drilon vows to work harder, amid rising public trust, approval ratings

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today promised that he will continue to work hard in fulfilling his responsibilities to the nation, amid the results of recent Pulse Asia survey that reported continued rising public approval and trust to his office.  

Drilon said that he is immensely thankful for the “people’s appreciation and trust,” and will strive to further improve his work in leading the upper chamber. 

“I will continue to work hard in the Senate, and I will do all that I can to prove to our Filipino public, that indeed, I value and deserve the trust that they give my office,” he said.  

The latest Pulse Asia survey, conducted from March 1 to 7, 2015 said that Drilon enjoyed a “near majority” public approval rating of 49%, higher than his 47% approval rating last November of 2014. Public trust to his office is also higher, from 42% last November 2014, to 44% in March of this year.

The survey’s data also showed that Drilon is currently the most approved of and trusted among the highest officials of the land. 

Drilon said that while he is grateful for the figures, he “remains focused, with his feet remaining firm on the ground.” 

“Surveys are reflections of public perceptions as they were during that period when it was conducted. If anything, it just reinforces my belief that the only way to gain public trust and approval is to actually do one’s duties as a public servant, and serve and uplift the people,” he concluded.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Drilon to attend Lee Kuan Yew’s state funeral in Singapore

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon will represent President Benigno Aquino III, the government and the Filipino people at the state funeral of Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

“The President has asked me to represent him and the Filipino people as we join the nation of Singapore in this time of grieving for the loss of a great Asian leader, former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew,” said Drilon.

He said that the state funeral will be held on March 29, 2015, at the Singapore University Cultural Center.

Drilon will be joined by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima.

The Senate leader said that the Filipino people are deeply affected by Lee’s death, who, he added, inspired many leaders of various nations, including himself.

“Lee Kuan Yew showed us that resolute political will can positively transform nations and societies and uplift them from the shackles of poverty,” said Drilon.
Lee has been recognized by the world for transforming Singapore into an economically stable nation. He served as Singapore’s prime minister for 31 years, the longest serving prime minister, from 1959 to 1990. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On World TB Day, Recto asks : 'What about the Fallen 27,000?'

MANILA-What about the Fallen 27,000?

As the country observes World TB Day today, Sen. Ralph Recto called on government to plowback a portion of its good fiscal numbers in fighting tuberculosis, a scourge which claims the lives of 27,000 Filipinos a year.

“It kills 75 a day, more than the 67 policemen, rebels and civilians who died in the Mamasapano tragedy. TB is a massacre which happens daily. It is our country’s no. 8 top killer,” he said.

“Since 1990, TB has killed 747,000, or six times the present population of San Juan (City),” Recto said.

While the Philippines has scored modest victories in wiping out the communicable disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis, like achieving an 88 percent cure rate, above the world average, “much remains to be done,” Recto said.

“First, there is the challenge of high TB prevalence rate. 438,000 of our people have it, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data. Globally, we’re 9th in the WHO watch-list of 22 high-burdened countries which constitute 80% of all TB cases worldwide,” the senator said.  

“But even if we cure more people, more new cases crop up every year. In 2013, 229,918 new cases were reported,” Recto said.

“We have 26 new TB patients every hour,” he said. “In 2012, 1 in 10 of new cases, or 22,000, were children.”

To cure each patient, the cost is P8,500 to P10,000, which according to Recto, “necessitates a bigger government equity in shouldering the cost, as this cannot wholly be an out-of the-pocket expense of a poor patient who cannot.”

But in the case of the multidrug resistant TB, the treatment course costs P250,000.

Sadly, according to WHO assessment of the country’s “financing TB control”, 48 percent of the amount required by the annual national anti-TB program remains unfunded. 

For 2014, the national government budget to fight TB is P1.1 billion, which is augmented by about the same amount from official development aid.   

Recto has filed a proposed Alis TB Act which arrays guaranteed funding sources for the TB eradication drive.

One of this is “deepening and expanding” PhilHealth’s coverage of TB cases.

While PhilHealth, Recto said, has commendably included TB treatment in its “All Case Rates” payment scheme with rates ranging from P4,000 to P15,600, “there is the question of the small segment of the population without PhilHealth insurance.”

To close this gap, Recto, in his Senate Bill 711, is calling for mandatory PhilHealth coverage of all TB patients, whether member or not.

“If we are nearing universal health insurance coverage, then PhilHealth should not worry, because this will only affect a small portion of the populace,” he said. 

"Besides, in the first half of 2014, of the almost half-million TB patients, Philhealth was able to pay 11,804 claims for TB DOTS, at an average P2,072 per claim. Hindi pa nga number of patients ‘yan, kasi one patient can have multiple claims, so hindi ito mabigat sa kanila," Recto said.

“As to the premiums required, the government can defray part of it by increasing its subsidy to the national health insurer, through national budget allocations,” he said. 

Recto said boosting the TB control fund is something the government can afford.

“There is money but we don’t spend it. Last year, we underspent by P302.7 billion. Programmed expenditure was P2,284.3 billion while actual disbursement was P1,981.6 billion,” he said.

“Kahit 1 percent lang ng underspending natin ay ilagay natin sa TB control, or P3 billion, malaking tulong talaga,” Recto said.

“Remember, the country is losing approximately P8 billion annually from sickness and deaths due to TB. So this spending has a big socio-economic ROI (return of investment),” he said.

"Lahat naman ng victories natin sa TB dahil sa dagdag na pondo. In 1981, yung smear positive TB cases were 6.6 per 1,000 persons. In 2007, 2 na lang per 1,000," he said.


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