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DSWD extends help to 4Ps workers in shooting incident in Tawi-Tawi

October 21, 2020

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has assisted the two program implementers who were attacked by gunmen in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS). AICS is the provision of integrated services to individuals and families in difficult situations. These services include financial, material, and medical assistance, among others, based on the assessment of social workers. According to reports,  Niezel Ladjauddin Asakil,  Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) OIC Provincial Link in Tawi-Tawi, and Kevin Pon,  4Ps Municipal Link, were attacked by gunmen along the highway of Barangay Lapid-Lapid while on their way home following a 5-day payout in Panglima Sugala on October 12, 2020. The two field workers were wounded. DSWD recognizes the efforts of field workers to deliver the necessary assistance to 4Ps and other program beneficiaries despite the many threats to their health and safety,  thus, the Department vows to institute better mechanisms and to strengthen coordination with the government of BARMM to ensure their protection and to prevent the repeat of similar incidents.  (DSWD)

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Philhealth expedites 100% inclusion of all Filipinos in NHIP as part of UHC

October 20, 2020

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) recently gave updates on hastening the process to register all Filipinos in  the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). Under the Universal Health Care Law (UHC), all Filipino citizens are automatically eligible to avail the government’s health benefits packages. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the UHC Law last February 20, 2019 to ensure that every Filipino, with the inclusion of overseas Filipino workers, has access to a comprehensive set of quality and cost-effective, promotive, preventive, curative, palliative, and rehabilitative health care, without causing financial hardship, and prioritizing those who cannot afford such services. With the Universal Health Care Law (UHC), about 110 million Filipinos, based  on  the Philippine Statistics Authority consensus, are now eligible to receive universal healthcare. They will also be granted access to all health care services in accredited public facilities, as well as basic accommodations in accredited private health care institutions (HCI). “As of August of this year, about 85.4 percent of the total Filipino population are registered members of PhilHealth,” explained Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire. She added that this is composed of 51,785,474 members as well as 42,352,559 dependents. It is the government’s objective to fully register the entire population in the NHIP, from 95 percent in 2021 to 100 percent in 2022 so that all Filipinos will have access to health services and benefits. Though not all Filipinos are registered in the PhilHealth database, they may still benefit from PhilHealth coverage at the point of service. This development is in line with the provisions for a nationwide universal healthcare system that will be executed, together with the implementation of a whole-of-government, whole-of-system, whole-of-nation approach in the program. Updating your PhilHealth registration Filipinos who are already members of PhilHealth can update their member data record, and  employers or members with  financial means must keep their premiums updated. PhilHealth is also committed for all Filipinos to secure their PIN (PhilHealth Identification Number) by updating their membership records, particularly for their dependents. Direct contributor members will need to register and apply for PIN using the PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF), declare their monthly income, and submit their supporting documents. Indirect contributor members, or those subsidized by the government, need only to register and apply for PIN; they may also need to present their certificate of financial incapability. For updating of records, both direct and indirect contributor members need to submit their PMRF as well as the required supporting documents. Expanding UHC’s coverage With the broadening of its coverage under the UHC Act, the health sector is mandated to provide sufficient and high-quality individual-based and population-based health services. Philhealth has accredited a combination of public and private healthcare providers who can offer sufficient and accessible individual-based health services. OIC-Undersecretary Singh-Vergeire also explained the DOH efforts in implementing the UHC in the provinces and cities. She said, “DOH has contracted province and city-wide health systems with minimum components like a reliable primary health care provider network who gives free consultations and assessments. Epidemiologic Surveillance Systems monitor the status of every community and gather data on diseases like COVID-19 and polio. A proactive health promotion campaign also makes the community aware of the health protocols.” (DOH)

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DA to promote rice varieties preferred by consumers

October 16, 2020

After attaining increased palay production during the 2019-2020 dry season and the current main season, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is now aiming to promote rice varieties preferred by consumers. “We need to adapt to the changes brought about by the rice tariffication law, one of which is consumers’ preference for quality rice. This is now an integral part of the overall transformation of the country’s rice industry,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar. “That is why for the succeeding cropping seasons, we are not just after attaining production targets, but also producing quality rice for Filipino consumers that will provide higher income for farmers,” he added. The DA chief made the pitch during a virtual meeting with leaders of farmers’ groups, millers and traders, from major rice-producing provinces. For their part, rice millers and traders said they were having difficulty buying palay because of low quality, composed mostly of assorted or ‘rumble’ varieties that when milled produce chalky and broken grains. “The Covid-19 pandemic has made it hard for us to sell our rice stocks because of lack in demand, which was made even harder by the low quality of palay harvest this season,” a Bulacan rice miller said. “If farmers want to command good prices, they should plant better quality rice seeds and what the consumers want,” a miller from Nueva Ecija said. A trader from Isabela, on the other hand, said that consumers now prefer rice varieties that are long-grain, and taste and smell better when cooked. Simply, they should possess the so-called “4M for maganda, mura, mabango at malambot.” An informal survey done by the rice industry groups showed that 40 percent of consumers prefer rice with said attributes. Millers and traders are thus one in saying that farmers should now plant varieties that have good milling and eating qualities and preferred by consumers. They offered to help the DA, through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), promote recommended rice varieties that farmers should plant in succeeding seasons. In reply, Secretary Dar said they will also meet with seed producers to discuss the preferred rice varieties of consumers, and the desired levels of productivity that will provide farmers more income. “We have to make seed producers, farmers and other stakeholders understand that our overall strategy now is inclusive market-oriented development,” Secretary Dar said. “Kung ano demand ng market, kung ano ang pangangailangan ng consuming public iyon ang dapat i-produce ng ating mga magsasaka. We need to adapt to changes brought about by the new regime,” he added. He said the DA will hold consultations with farmers, seed producers, traders, millers, and other stakeholders to determine current industry trends, demand of the domestic retail market and institutional buyers, customers’ needs and wants, and needed policy shifts or reforms and government interventions. Palay harvest during the first semester of 2020 totaled 8.387 million metric tons (MMT), 1.4 percent (%) more than the 8.269 MMT for the same six-month period last year. Second semester palay output this year is forecast at 11.954 MMT, 13.4% more than last year’s 10.545 MMT. (DA)

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Digital literacy continues for farmers across regions

October 16, 2020

 More farmers are taking on the challenge to become future-ready as they participate in the first level of the Digital Farmers Program (DFP), the DFP 101. After the conduct of the DFP 101 Master Trainers’ Bootcamp in June 2020, the Agricultural Training Institute’s (ATI) network of training centers resumed to reaching more farmers and youth towards creating a digitally enabled farming environment. A total of six batches were rolled out in September 2020 with over 100 participants from farmers’ associations and rural improvement clubs (RICs). These were led by the ATI Regional Training Centers (RTCs) in Central Luzon, MIMAROPA, and Eastern Visayas. Moreover, as part of the Institute’s strategies under the new normal, the RTCs implemented both online and face-to-face modes of delivery, ensuring all standard health protocols were followed. By the end of the session, farmers were acquainted with the basic parts and uses of a smartphone, access the Internet, as well as introduced to social media and basic agriculture applications such as weather monitoring, e-Learning, and land area measurement tools. "Malaking tulong ito na mas madaling makikilala ang mga produkto namin lalo na sa pandemiyang hinaharap. Malaking tulong ito sa aming magsasaka at RIC sa probinsya. Nakakatuwa na malaman na marami palang magagawa gamit lamang ang smartphone," Perlita Abaco, a farmer-participant in the DFP 101 Bataan leg, shared. [This is a big help for us farmers and members of RICs in provinces to promote our products especially during this pandemic. It is nice to know that there is so much you can do with a smartphone.] Likewise, the youth-participants—who are more tech-savvy—took time to guide their farmer-partners in maximizing the use of their smartphones, getting resources from the Internet, and venture into online selling. “DFP 101 helped enable farmers to gain knowledge on how to promote their products online. They no longer need to physically vend their products. Since it is online, buyers come in fast and transactions between sellers and buyers are much easier,” Jeffrey Ciro Subayno, a youth-participant in Baybay, Leyte, noted. Twenty-five more batches are expected to be organized this year in various provinces including Quezon, Aklan, and Davao del Norte, among others. All DFP 101 finishers will be moving up to the second level of the program—the DFP 102—by the second semester of 2021. The DFP is a ladderized capacity-building activity, spearheaded in partnership with Smart Communications Public Affairs. It engages the youth in a three-course sequence focusing on acquainting and empowering farmers starting from basic digital tools such as social media to more complex services such as e-commerce and online payment systems. (DA-ATI)  

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Villanueva: Senate ratifies 'Doktor Para sa Bayan' bill

October 16, 2020

The Senate on Thursday ratified the "Doktor Para sa Bayan Act" which Sen. Joel Villanueva described as a landmark legislation that will improve the Filipino people's access to free medical education and as well as expand the country's human resources for public health. In a speech on the Senate floor, Villanueva stressed that the approval of the Bicam report was timely as it showed that public health remained the Senate's priority amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "The coronavirus pandemic has only exposed and exacerbated the Achilles' heel of our healthcare system: the shrinking supply of Filipino medical doctors. Imagine, we only have 3 doctors per 10,000 populations, far from the ideal ratio of 10 doctors per 10,000 populations," said Villanueva, principal author and principal sponsor of the measure. The bill sets up a medical scholarship and return service program, which grants scholarships to deserving students aspiring to become physicians. It seeks to encourage students to take up medicine, and help improve the country's doctor-patient ratio, which is currently at a dismal three doctors per 10,000 populations according to health department data. The country needs to produce over 80,000 doctors to meet the WHO-prescribed ratio of 10 doctors per 10,000 populations. Villanueva said the bill would establish the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for deserving Filipino students with priority for qualified applicants from municipalities without government physicians to ensure the assignment of at least one doctor for every municipality in the country. "This bill provides free tuition and other school fees including allowances and fees for internship, medical board review and licensure examination and sets conditions on scholarship grant such as the requirements for scholars to finish the entire Doctor of Medicine Program within the prescribed time frame and to render a return of service equivalent to the number of years he or she has availed of the scholarship." Villanueva said in his speech. "It will also consolidate and harmonizes all Nationally-Funded Medical Scholarship Programs under the Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program as well as require the Commission on Higher Education to streamline the requirements for the application for authority to offer Doctor of Medicine Program," Villanueva added. The implementation of the measure will strengthen the cooperation among state universities and colleges with government hospitals to increase the number of medical schools throughout the country with one region having at least one state-operated medical school, he added. The senator also disclosed that a transitory provision was included in the measure mandating that all scholars under the existing medical scholarship programs of Department of health and CHED shall automatically be eligible to avail the benefits. In its first year, the bill intends to double the number of scholars under existing scholarship programs of the DOH and the CHED, which currently have around 3,000 scholars, explained Villanueva. (OSJV)

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Bong Go extends aid to 300 TODA members in Pasay City; assures poor and vulnerable sectors will be prioritized once COVID-19 vaccines are made available

October 16, 2020

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go extended aid to the members of the Tricycle Operators and Drivers' Associations (TODAs) during an aid distribution event held at Barangay 201 in Pasay City on Wednesday, October 14. In a video call, he checked on their welfare, assured them that his office is always ready to address their concerns, and reiterated the government’s commitment to overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Go's outreach team provided meals, food packs, masks and face shields to 300 TODA members. Select members also received tablets for their children to use and attend classes remotely through the blended learning platforms implemented by schools. He emphasized the importance of education and said that learning must not stop despite the ongoing crisis. “Mayroon po akong ipinadalang tablet para sa mga anak ninyo na nag-aaral. Sa kabataan natin, kung naririnig ninyo ako, mag-aral kayong mabuti kasi ‘yan lang ang pwede natin maiganti sa ating mga magulang na nagpapakamatay magtrabaho para mapaaral lang kayo,” said Go. “Kasiyahan naming mga magulang na makita ang mga anak namin na makatapos. Importante ang edukasyon. Kaya kayong kabataan, mag-aral kayong mabuti para po sumaya ang mga magulang ninyo at mabigyan kayo ng sapat na pagkakataon na maiangat ang inyong pamumuhay,” he continued. The Senator's staff also distributed bicycles to help recipients travel to work given the limited public transport options caused by the ongoing health crisis. Additionally, the Department of Social Welfare and Development distributed cash assistance and food packs while the Department of Trade and Industry assessed potential beneficiaries for their livelihood assistance programs. “Nabalitaan kong marami pang ‘di nakatatanggap ng ayuda sa inyo kaya nakiusap tayo sa DSWD para matugunan agad ang inyong hinaing at mabigyan kayo ng tulong. Nandyan din po ang DTI para sa gustong mag-avail ng tulong pangkabuhayan,” continued Go. Before the pandemic, the Senator met with TODA leaders to listen to their concerns and help provide solutions to their daily struggles through active consultations. In his virtual message, Go thanked the DSWD and DTI representatives for providing necessary assistance to the sector. He also recognized the continuing efforts of local government officials led by Pasay City Mayor Imelda G. Calixto-Rubiano to help their constituents as well as National Capital Region TODA Coalition President Ace Sevilla for being an active voice on behalf of the TODA sector. Go, who serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, reminded the TODA members to strictly adhere to the government-issued health and safety protocols against COVID-19 by wearing their masks and face shields, washing their hands frequently and observing social distancing, among others. “’Wag kayo mag-alala dahil kapag mayroon ng safe na vaccine, uunahin namin ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte ang mahihirap. Uunahin namin ang TODA para makabalik na kayo sa normal na pamumuhay,” he vowed, echoing the President’s commitment to prioritize poor and vulnerable sectors once a vaccine against COVID-19 is available. “Palagi kong ipinagdarasal na makabalik na tayo sa normal na buhay kung saan mayayakap natin ang ating kapwa. Basta, magtulungan lang tayo at malalagpasan din natin ang pandemyang ito. Sino ba naman ang magtutulungan kundi tayo rin pong kapwa Pilipino. Magbayanihan lang po tayo at magmalasakit tayo sa ating kapwa,” he urged. Go also assured them that his office continues to help those needing government assistance especially when it comes to medical concerns. He encouraged the community to avail of medical and financial assistance from their local Malasakit Center at the Pasay City General Hospital. During the event, Go’s staff members also met with the family members of Annabel Salilid, who died on October 6 at the age 44 years. They sought financial assistance to cover the burial and funeral expenses of the deceased, which the DSWD committed to cover upon conducting an assessment. “Handa kami ni Pangulong Duterte kasama ang buong gobyernong ito na magserbisyo sa inyo sa abot ng aming makakaya. Hindi po kami nangangako na kaya namin lahat ito pero sa abot ng aming makakaya ay gagawin namin ang lahat para po sa kapakanan ng mga Pilipino. Huwag po kayo mawalan ng pag-asa dahil malalagpasan rin natin ang pandemyang ito,” said Go. (OSBG) Caption  

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