FACES OF THE NEWS: June 9, 2019
The outspoken election commissioner made headlines last week when she described as “unabashed mockery and an assault to democratic processes” the poll body’s approval of the substitution application of the Duterte Youth party list nominees, including that of former National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema.
The lone dissenter in the Commission on Elections ruling, Guanzon said Cardema and the other nominees had failed to file their notice of substitution on time and that all of them did not meet the age requirement.
A nominee of the youth sector must be at least 25 years old but not over 30 on Election Day.
Guanzon is strongly opposed to Cardema sitting in the 18th Congress until his disqualification case is resolved.
As reports of ghost dialysis treatments and overpayments by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) surfaced this week, its CEO, Roy Ferrer, maintained that under his term he “will not let thievery, in any form, prosper.”
He said PhilHealth was exerting efforts to curb the fraudulent practices of hospitals and health care professionals.
But Ferrer himself, a diabetologist by profession, was accused in the Office of the Ombudsman of conflict of interest for his alleged failure to divest himself of all interest in his profession when he was appointed to PhilHealth last year.
The complaint claimed that Ferrer earned more than P600,000 in professional fees while he was head of an agency that has the power to adjust the rates paid to doctors and hospitals.
Overworked, underpaid teachers
With national attention directed at education issues during this week’s resumption of classes, public school teachers brought their longstanding demand for a salary raise to the fore.
Their entry level pay of P20,754 ends up as less than half of that after deductions from outstanding loans, they said.
Even the education department acknowledged that teachers owed a combined P300-billion debt, a staggering amount that seems fated to continue rising until the country’s 800,000 public school teachers are paid enough to make a decent living.
“The teachers’ take-home pay cannot even take them home,” griped Cristina Manalo, chapter head of the Philippine Public School Teachers’ Association.
In an effort to drum up support for the passage of a higher tobacco tax, the health and finance departments relaunched in May the Yosi Kadiri campaign, the government’s iconic program to help reduce smoking in the 1990s.
The two departments are at the forefront of the government’s call for higher sin taxes to fill up the funding gap of P426 billion in the next five years as the universal health care program gets fully implemented.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved the measure raising taxes on cigarettes from the current P35 to P45 next year, to be increased annually by P5 until it reaches P60 in 2023.
The tax increase is also seen to help bring down smoking prevalence in the country by 20 percent by 2023.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan proved his mettle at the Shangri-la security forum in Singapore when he called out China for its behavior in the South China Sea.
He was only reiterating what Washington had said in the past, but Shanahan’s trip to Asia gave officials a better idea of the man who has to deal with security issues in Venezuela, Libya, Turkey, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and China, among others.
Shanahan has yet to be formally nominated by US President Donald Trump as permanent defense chief, but already he has to deal with increasingly fractious US politics involving an impetuous president and a hostile Congress.
Shanahan’s looming confirmation hearing should show if he has exceptional navigation skills.
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