Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cost analysis in RH bill should be cleared first says Recto

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 19, 2011-Senator Ralph G. Recto, chairman of the senate ways and means urged the major proponents of the reproductive health (RH) bill to clear a cost analysis in the recent national debate on enacting the measure which is not only an issue of moral or religious one but also on its funding or budgeting.

“How much the proposed law would burden the national government, local government units (LGUs) and even the private sector,” Recto asked, saying that there’s obviously a price tag for this bill. There are costs involved and no one seems to be talking about it.

“Ultimately, before we discuss about the ‘birds and bees’, let’s talk about the fees,” Recto said, adding that to bankroll the RH bill and to ensure its effective implementation once enacted into law, billions of taxpayers’ money would be needed yearly.

“The costs would entail “guaranteeing universal access to medically safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality RH care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education,” Recto added.

“Where will the funds be sourced,” he asked, stressing that it is impossible to push for the bill without knowing the costs where he advised to clear the costs first before legislate something on the bill.

Recto said that the preparation and production of politically correct relevant scientific information materials that would be disseminated by the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Department of Health (DOH) would involve staggering costs not to mention the logistical requirement to deploy them.

“It is possible that contributions of both employers and employees to PhilHealth, Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System would increase as a result of compliance to the soon-to-be passed law,” he asked, noting that the delivery of RH services such as the provision of modern family methods, devices and supplies to poor families would be funded by PhilHealth, national government (NG) and LGUs under the proposed measure.

Recto said that private employers also have to cough up money to support the RH law such as making available health care facilities and services like contraceptives and sexual dysfunction treatment to all their employees.

“So instead of ‘conditional cash transfers (CCT)’, employers from time to time would give out 'conditional condom transfers' or hold “Viagra nights” in exchange for increased productivity?” he asked.

Meanwhile, the LGUs are mandated to pick up the tab along with the national government in the rolling out of RH services like information, care and supplies including medicines aside from hiring midwives to man birthing centers.

Recto eyed another possible cost is the additional pork barrel needed to finance the acquisition of mobile health clinics/vans for each congressional district that would deliver RH supplies and services to their constituents as mandated in the proposed law.

“Where are we going to take the money? Would this mean more pork barrel, higher LGU taxes and higher contributions to PhilHealth, GSIS and SSS?” he asked, saying that the earmarking of the budgets of the DOH for its family planning program and that of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) as initial outlay for the RH law amounted to P3 billion is not enough.

Recto stressed that there are so many unfunded laws and we don’t need another one; nevertheless, he agrees with most of the content of the proposed bill but has strong reservations over the other provisions that should be taken away or be subjected to refinements.

Recto said that no one could argue to the right of women to safeguard their health and safety when they are pregnant and to give birth. (Jason de Asis) 

Solons outline rules on Phl disaster risk reduction and management

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 18, 2011-The Congressional Oversight Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (COCDRRM) was convened to draft the rules of procedure that would enable to oversee and to monitor the implementation of Republic Act 10121 otherwise known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

At all levels, R.A. 10121 provisions bats for the identification of the areas vulnerable to calamities, projected climate risks, the enhancement of disaster preparedness and response capabilities, and appropriated P1-billion revolving fund  for the Office of the Civil Defense  as the lead agency.

The Philippines was ranked No. 1 with the most number of disasters that hit a country worldwide according to the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

COCDRRM Senate Committee Secretary Elpidio Calica said the Senate Oversight Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction was constituted during the plenary session last February where the Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV and Pia Cayetano were the committee members.

Calica explained that Sen. Panfilo Lacson, as chairman of the Committee of Defense, automatically became a chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee pursuant to the provisions under R.A. 10121, Sec. 26, adding that the chairman of the Defense Committee at the House, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon automatically became Lacson’s counterpart.
COCDRRM members included are Lanao del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong, Nueva Ecija Rep. Josefina Joson, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, Ang Kasangga Rep. Teodorico Haresco and Camarines Sur Rep Diosdado Arroyo.

Calica revealed that last Monday was an organizational meeting where the Congressional Oversight Committee is set to meet again on June for the adoption of the rules of procedure which was tasked to evaluate the accomplishments and impact of R.A. 10121 as well as the performance and organizational structure of its implementing agencies every five years or as necessary to ensure that it remains relevant at all times.

COCDRRM rules of procedures stated that the Committee has the authority to prescribe and adopt guidelines that will govern its work;  recommend the adoption of legislation and other legislative measures pursuant to its findings; conduct hearings, investigations, receive testimonies and reports relevant to its mandate, summon by subpoena any witness to testify before it or require by subpoena to produce documents, books, records and other papers as may be necessary in the performance of its functions; and secure from any department, bureau, office or instrumentality of government any assistance as may be needed, including technical information, preparation and production of reports and submission of recommendations and plans as it may require.

Last year, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed R.A. 10121 to strengthen the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMC) and to institutionalize disaster risk management at all levels of government to better cope with the various calamities that hit the country yearly. (Jason de Asis)


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