The Supreme Court (SC), stating lack of merit, junked a petition calling for the full disclosure of the state of health and medical examination results of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In its 70-page decision on Wednesday, the SC en banc outrightly dismissed the petition for mandamus filed by lawyer Dino de Leon last 13 April 2020 against Mr. Duterte and the Office of the President through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
De Leon alleged that the Chief Executive had been away from the public eye due to his failing health.
He also claimed the President’s seeming incoherence during his public briefing in relation to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) last 12 March was due to his undisclosed medical state.
It was on the same date petitioner when De Leon filed a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, as mandated by Executive Order (EO) 2, with the Office of the President and sought clarification on the status of the President’s health by specifically asking for copies of Mr. Duterte’s latest medical examination results, health bulletins, and other pertinent health records.
The Malacañang Records Office (MRO), in response, sent an email to De Leon stating the requested documents were neither on file or in its possession and that it will accommodate his requests as they become available.
De Leon, however, later asserted that he no longer received any response from the MRO after further inquiry and follow-up on the availability of his requested records. It prompted him to file a petition for mandamus before the SC to compel the Malacañang to reveal all of the President’s medical and psychological/psychiatric examination results, health bulletins, and other health records.
The petition, however, was turned down by the SC as the en banc decided it failed to present enough basis to merit the granting of a mandamus — a judicial remedy in the form of an order from the court commanding an inferior court or ordering a person, subordinate court, corporation, or public authority to perform a public or statutory duty.
“Whether the petitioner is actually and ultimately entitled to the reliefs prayed for is exactly what is to be determined by the court after a judicious study of the petition and its annexes.
Regrettably, petitioner fell short of making a prima facie case for mandamus by failing to establish a legal right that was violated by respondents,” the High Tribunal said.
“It is an extraordinary remedy that is issued only in extreme necessity, and the ordinary course of procedure is powerless to afford an adequate and speedy relief to one who has a clear legal right to the performance of the act compelled,” it further stated.
The SC likewise pointed out the Chief Executive, in recent months, have been seen holding regular public meetings with the members of his Cabinet, shooting down De Leon’s insinuation that Mr. Duterte is suffering from serious illnesses.
Cayetano bows out Wednesday
President Rodrigo Duterte will meet a small group of 20 to settle the dispute on the House of Representatives leadership after Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano turned his back on the term-sharing agreement forged no less by the Chief Executive last year.
That group will include not just Cayetano but also his wife Lani, the other Taguig City representative, who was also the subject of complaints from other lawmakers who noted the couple’s gargantuan share from the 2021 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along with their closest allies.
Presumptive Speaker Lord Allan Velasco will come alone, assisted only by the leaders of the other political parties dominant in House when they are united under the President’s guidance.
Velasco will join the meeting after denying the authenticity of the petition paper that circulated among the congressmen on Monday. It supposedly courted their support for a leadership change in the House, which Velasco dismissed as nonsense.
The President had called the meeting after Cayetano reneged on their agreement to split the speakership with Velasco scheduled to take over at the end of September until the May 2022 elections.
Cayetano had agreed to sit as Speaker for 15 months from June last year before giving way to Velasco who will serve for 21 months.
It was President Duterte, himself, who formulated the “15-21” deal.
Cayetano had earlier suggested an equal split of 18 months for each of them. But when the question on who should go first cropped up, President Duterte told Cayetano to take the first 15 months and honor Velasco’s turn for the next 21.
Cayetano agreed at first.
In March this year, however, Cayetano accused Velasco of orchestrating moves to unseat him although it was the Speaker’s allies who have raised the need for an election to whittle down the agreement.
It did not fly, however, as several congressmen described Cayetano’s move as a “coup against himself.”
Cayetano had made the same claim recently but this was only after several congressmen questioned Taguig City’s king’s share from the DPWH budget.
“The issue then was the budget and how the Cayetano couple have claimed a big chunk of it– not any leadership change. There’s an agreement that exists and it should be honored. That change will come. There is no need to force it. The deal will take care of it,” a lawmaker told Daily Tribune.
Cayetano had even tried to solicit signatures from a great majority of his House peers. Those who signed, another Daily Tribune source claimed, allegedly received P2 million each from the House’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget.
That is aside from Cayetano’s meeting with Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, the President’s son, over the weekend.
It is believed that the supposed petition paper calling to support Velasco was a publicity handiwork to support Cayetano’s allegation that the youthful Marinduque leader is orchestrating a coup.
“There’s no need. Congressman Cayetano’s part of the 15-21 deal ends this month,” the same lawmaker source of the Tribune reiterated.
And because it is President Duterte, himself, who asked Velasco to give way to Cayetano before he takes his turn on the first day of October, the Chief Executive will meet with them at the Palace.
This was confirmed to Daily Tribune on Monday by Ron Munsayac, executive director of PDP-Laban, the political party of Duterte and Velasco.
Political party leaders and coalition allies from the House will join the meeting, Munsayac added.
Amid the demonstration of support to Cayetano by over 200 House members, Velasco insisted the 2019 covenant should be honored by the gentlemen who signed it.
Velasco will also honor the appointments made by Cayetano after he had assumed the speakership in June last year.
“There will be no changes in the positions. The various committees and the deputies will retain their posts,” a lawmaker-ally of Velasco told the Tribune. “That is part of the pact.”
Velasco, in a statement, said:
“Trust and honot are values that are important especially in these trying times. They reveal our true character and show what we, as leaders, are truly made of.”
And in this period of difficulty that our people yearn for honorable leaders whom they can trust– leaders who are able to live up to their promises come hell of high water; leaders with palabra de honor (word of honor) who lead not with lip service but who back up their words with action.”
“When the House speakership term-sharing agreement was entered into, it was based on mutual trust and confidence. After all, it was an agreement brokered by and forged in the presence of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“The covenant was crystal clear: A 15-21 term-sharing agreement. The first term expires on 30 September, after which the second term immediately begins. That was the pledge made before the President. As true leaders and as examples for our people, both sides are obligated to avoid situations or statements that would subvert the agreement and betray the trust of our people who’ve stood witness to the covenant.”
“Let us uphold the agreement as this was made ‘FOR GOD AND OUR COUNTRY 1521.’ I have always intended to honor the agreement. We all should. Our people deserve nothing less,” Velasco said.
Meanwhile, ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap clarified that Cayetano did not fly to Davao to meet with Deputy Speaker and the President’s son Paolo Duterte.
Yap said the meeting occurred in Manila and was nothing but a “casual conversation.”
The young Duterte last week warned to ask the Mindanao bloc to declare all seats vacant at the House following complaints of inequity in the distribution of funds related to infrastructure projects.
The House is also currently in the middle of discussions on the 2021 budget, which the Cayetano camp says would stall if there will be a change in leadership.
Velasco’s allies said budget deliberations would be finished on time if both parties will abide by their pledges.
with MJ BLANCAFLOR
A teaser ‘wedding’ for KathNiel
Fans of reel-to-real couple Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla won’t have to wait long to see the couple tie the knot, even if it’s just for an upcoming digital sitcom (situational comedy).
After a series of teasers showing wedding gowns and invitations from the couple’s respective mothers caused an uproar on social media, netizens were also quick to catch that the “wedding” posts were related to the KathNiel love team’s comeback—following the heated House hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise to operate that ended in the Kapamilya network’s losing its broadcast frequencies.
Kathryn and Daniel were among the Kapamilya stars who broke their silence over the issue and vocally supported the media giant’s fight to renew its franchise.
On 25 September, Mommy Min (Kathryn’s mother) posted on Instagram a closeup photo of a wedding gown with a wedding ring between the letters “k” and “n” in the caption.
And then Daniel’s mom Karla Estrada posted a white wedding invite with the same caption.
A similar teaser was posted by KathNiel’s close friend, Juan Miguel Severo, with a picture of a crucifix from a church.
Likewise, Star Music head Roxy Liquigan posted a caption of the now-famous “k” and “n” with a wedding ring.
There were speculations that the posts were about Karla’s own wedding, based on the comments her friends in the industry—Vina Morales, Jaya and Ruffa Gutierrez—wrote on Karla’s wedding invitation post.
It was not the first time Karla, or “Queen Mother” posted the word “engaged” on her Instagram, but now the caption had blue and black hearts replacing “k” and “n,” followed by the word “soon.”
In any case, KathNiel fans are stoked to see the couple back on the screen again—after work on their film After Forever had to stop due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The KathNiel love team was last seen on the big screen in the 2018 blockbuster film The Hows of Us. Before that, the couple appeared in Can’t Help Falling In Love, Barcelona: A Love Untold, Crazy Beautiful You and the film adaptation of the hit series She’s Dating the Gangster.
They were first paired the in 2011 teen drama Growing Up as the characters Ella Dimalanta and Patrick Rivero.
As for a real wedding, KathNiel have not exacly been denying it. In a past interview, the couple revealed that they want a beach wedding.
They celebrated their eighth year as real-life sweethearts last May.
Government addresses virus-induced hunger
The Palace on Monday said the government has not been negligent in providing aid to poor families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
This was after a recent poll suggested that a record-high 7.6 million number of Filipinos went hungry during large-scale lockdowns.
The Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported over the weekend that hunger incidence rose to 30.7 percent in 17 to 20 September, surpassing the previous peak of 23.8 percent in March 2012.
The hunger trend has been rising since May 2020, according to SWS, which conducted the poll using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviews of 1,249 adult Filipinos nationwide.
The SWS said there was an increase in the scores in all survey areas, with new record hunger rates logged in Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao.
The survey had a ±3 percent error margin, ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao, and ±5 percent for Balance Luzon.
While the poll results are saddening, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque underscored that the government has not been remiss in its obligation to provide relief packages to Filipino families hit by the pandemic.
“We are saddened by the news and that’s why we are reopening the economy so we can lower the numbers especially those who are hungry,” Roque said.
The Palace official noted that the government has launched programs to provide livelihood to workers affected by the pandemic, as well as aid to those who reside in places under granular lockdowns.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, meanwhile, urged the government to provide aid to families affected by the COVID-19 and reopen the economy to address hunger amid the pandemic.
“It is important to gradually open the economy and continue the aid from the government,” he said.
The lawmaker pointed out that there are measures provided by the Bayanihan to Recover as One to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic. “There are programs from the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), Agriculture (DA), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and other agencies to recover and regain our livelihoods and ensure food security in the country,” he stated.
While the country is waiting for a vaccine against coronavirus, Go reminded to maintain minimum health protocols to ensure the safety of the Filipinos.
Roque said the government has also allowed select public transportation to resume operations to address the concerns of workers who need to go to their places of work.
About 27.3 million people or nearly half of the adult workforce were out of work in July, according to a different SWS poll.
During the period, the Philippine economy contracted by 16.5 percent in the second quarter as the country plunged into a recession and saw its worst downturn in three decades.
Several senators echoed Go’s statement as they also expressed alarm on the survey.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the survey’s result should be a valid reason to include social amelioration program or ayuda in the 2021 national budget.
“I am alarmed by the worsening condition of poor Filipino families affected by the pandemic. They are hungry, most of them women and children. This validates our concerns over the lack of ayuda in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021,” he said.
The lawmaker urged the government to put in place measures to address the increase in hunger incidence before it “spirals into a full-blown crisis.”
Drilon reiterated his position to augment the budget for the DSWD in order to help the poor cope with the effects of the pandemic to their livelihood.
He suggested to realign the P16.4 billion funds lodged in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, P9 billion in government’s confidential and intelligence funds, and the P468 billion flagged as lump sum appropriations under the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, on the other hand, said that the government should devote necessary attention and resource to stop the increase in hunger incidence in the country before it gets.
She suggested reviving the budget for the feeding program under DSWD for 2021.
Hontiveros also noted that the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will not be sufficient, emphasizing that more jobs should be opened especially in the agricultural and BPO sectors.
“Unfortunately, the budget of the Department of Agriculture has been slashed, and internet connectivity limits the extent to which the BPO industry can reconfigure towards safer working arrangements,” she said.
The lawmaker asked the government to assign a “Balik-Trabaho Czar” who will lead the reemployment and employment of more Filipinos amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Sonny Angara, on the other hand, said the spike in hunger incidence is expected given the status of the Philippine economy and the quarantine protocols implemented by the government.
He said that “all hands should be on deck” to ensure that this will be addressed immediately.
“School feeding programs of DepEd and DSWD should definitely continue and DA and DTI should strive to make sure there is affordable food available to the public all over the country,” he said.
Opening the economy to create jobs and trigger consumer spending is needed to address hunger in the country, Senator Francis Pangilinan said.
But unless the government addresses the main crisis, which is the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger and unemployment will continue, he explained.
with HANANEEL BORDEY
Comelec sees slow registration turnout
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it expected a slow and low turnout of new voters who will register for the 2022 national elections.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the poll body said, is a huge factor in the expected turnout.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez noted that the voter registration outcome since its resumption is currently low. So far, the poll body has recorded at least 250,000 applicants nationwide.
“The numbers we see are quite low and that’s expected because we still of in pandemic. In the last three to four weeks, we are lagging by less than 250,000 nationwide. Previously, during pre-COVID, that number was only for the National Capital Region,” Jimenez said.
The poll body expects the number to pick up as the country slowly eases the quarantine restrictions.
“We have a long way to go, but we expect the number of registrants to reach about four million by the end of registration,” Jimenez stated.
In a related development, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, through House Bill 2839, on Monday urged the Congress to allow senior citizens (SC) and persons with disabilities (PWD) to vote seven days earlier than the Election day set on 9 May 2022.
If this is enacted, SC and PWD will be allowed to cast their votes from 2 to 8 May. They can also vote on the actual polling day if they would want to.
“There will be social distancing during the (early) voting for seniors and PWD and it will not be as crowded as the regular election day,” he said.
Asked by Daily Tribune how these early votes can be protected from fraud, Rodriguez said the watchers who witnessed the actual voting shall seal and sign the boxes of the ballots which will be opened after the voting on the regular election day.
“The Committee on Suffrage has already approved our substitute bill and is now at the Appropriations Committee for its budgetary provision. We hope that Congress could approve the bill in time for its implementation for the next combined presidential-congressional-local elections in May 2022,” Rodriguez said.
The bill noted that when the United States enforced early voting, it marked an increase in turnout as made the process easier for people. It is also advocated by voting rights groups saying that it provides “significantly more time to complete their ballots or go to the polls.”
“Research shows that in the 24 US states with no-excuse absentee voting, turnout increased in 2004 by 6.7 percent, whereas it increased by 6.2 percent for other states. In the 11 states that had early voting in 2002 and 2004, turnout increased by an average of 7.2 percent as opposed to 6.2 percent in states without early voting,”
The Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said the Comelec will be tasked to designate polling facilities that are “safe, highly accessible and fitted with the necessary communication, visual and physical aids” for the vulnerable.
with MICHELLE GUILLANG
Phoenix bags 3‘Stevies’
Phoenix Petroleum is on a winning streak for its nationwide campaigns, with three trophies from the prestigious International Business Awards bagged this year.
The company took home two Gold Stevies through Phoenix SUPER LPG’s “Sarap Pala Magluto” nationwide campaign and FamilyMart’s Coffee Creations introduction, and one Silver Stevie from its “Tulong Para Sa Taal” corporate social responsibility campaign.
In a statement on Monday, Phoenix Petroleum President Henry Albert Fadullon said the recognition came at a time when “everyone can use some motivation, given the impact of the pandemic.”
“Because of these recognitions from the International Business Awards, we are more motivated to do even better and create campaigns that will not only bring corporate excellence but also bring positive impact to the communities we serve,” Fadullon said.
“Sarap Pala Magluto” is the nationwide campaign of Phoenix SUPER LPG that aims to encourage millennials to discover the joys of cooking through its German-made SRG regulator that offers safe and easy cooking experience.
The campaign, which also introduces Sarah Geronimo as brand ambassador, has successfully increased the brand’s market share and brand awareness, even topping the Twitter trend list on its launch day.
Another Gold winner, FamilyMart’s Coffee Creations, was recognized for its achievements in sales since its launch. From selling only seven cups a day, Coffee Creations drastically increased FamilyMart’s coffee sales to an average of 70 cups a day.
The project was attributed for the overall revenue of FamilyMart in 2019.
Meanwhile, the “Tulong Para Sa Taal” campaign, which earned a Silver recognition from the IBA for PR Campaign of the Year-Corporate Social Responsibility category, impressed the judges with its comprehensive and centralized approach, utilizing all of Phoenix brands, products, stakeholders and partners in bringing immediate help to over 10,000 affected families.
These new IBA trophies bring the total Stevies trophies of Phoenix to six since it first joined the competition in 2017.
The IBA or Stevies is the world’s premier business awards created in 2002 to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide.
With a panel of jurors composed of industry professionals worldwide, it is considered as the Oscars of business.
Rody to cut clean at end of term
President Rodrigo Duterte distanced himself from calls to postpone the 2022 national elections as Malacañang reiterated that he has no plans to stay longer than his term in office.
It’s up to the public if it wants to push Constitutional amendments, but the Chief Executive is out of it, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said on Monday.
He assured the nation that the President will step down his post after his term expires on 30 June 2022.
“The President is not interested in extending his term and he leaves it to the Filipino people, to the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections,” Roque said.
“Under the new normal, under the new situation, it appears that the only thing that will change is the way of campaigning, but the elections will push through,” he added.
The Palace official said the postponement of 2022 national polls, which include the posts of president, vice president and senators, can “never be an option for Malacañang unless the Constitution is amended.”
Under Article VII and Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution, the regular election for president and vice president shall be held on the second Monday of May unless otherwise provided by law.
The Charter says:
“The President and the Vice President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”
“No Vice President shall serve for more than two successive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected.”
“Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice President shall be held on the second Monday of May.”
“Elections that can only be postponed are those not specified in the Constitution, including barangay elections,” Roque said.
The Palace had earlier rejected the proposal that was first floated by House Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Mikey Arroyo, citing the continuing threat of COVID-19.
After a public backlash, Arroyo clarified that the idea was only a last resort if the crisis persists until 2022.
The Commission on Elections is asking the Congress for a P10-billion budget to prepare for the 2022 elections that will open for voting a total 18,084 seats, including those of the next president and the vice president.
Monster or turtle?
The evolution of animals is a long process that involves multi-generational genetic mutation and adaptation to their existing habitat. As far as Leyteño boxer Johnriel Casimero is concerned, however, one can well take a shortcut.
As soon as the 30-year-old Ormoc native demolished Ghanaian foe Duke Micah by TKO in the third round of his first title defense held last Saturday in Connecticut, USA, thereby retaining his WBO bantamweight belt, he taunted reigning unified bantamweight world champion Naoya Inoue — calling the ring “monster” a Japanese turtle for hiding in his shell.
“No, you’re no monster! You’re a Japanese turtle!” Casimero exclaimed with profanities, as he dared Inoue to fight him. They were supposed to meet last April, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of their unification bout.
That is how the “monster,” a moniker Inoue earned for defeating bigger foes including Filipino Nonito Donaire last year with his power jabs and vicious body attack, was reduced to a reptile.
Casimero, for his part, turned into a monster from being Quadro Alas (Four Aces). He cursed at Inoue and made a slit throat sign in his post-victory interview in an outpouring of angst over the cancellation of their fight.
The Japanese knockout artist should get the message and perhaps let his fists do the talking if ever they do clash in the near future.
Inoue also may shed his monster image and adopt a turtle’s devilish face, specifically the Chinese pond turtle.
That rare turtle (Mauremys reevesii) at the iZoo in the town of Kawazu, Shizuoka Prefecture in Central Japan has “horns” growing out of its eyelids, making it look like a Viking out to crush anyone in its path.
In other words, Casimero may just have a tough time defeating Inoue.
Embattled Cayetano milks photo op with Pulong
More than a week after Deputy Speaker and the President’s son Paolo Duterte said he will ask his peers to initiate a shakeup at the House of Representatives, embattled Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano flew all the way to Davao City on Saturday to have an audience with the young Duterte.
The rendezvous, which was splashed all over social media, puts into motion a barrage of publicity to hammer home the message that the “15-21” deal is over and that the Speaker is retaining his post.
The deal refers to Cayetano having the first crack at the Speakership for 15 months before turning it over to Marinduque Rep. Allan Lord Velasco in a gentlemen’s agreement witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
A little more than a month is what’s left for Cayetano under the deal.
Cayetano is seeking the support of what he believes is the strongest bloc to challenge his rule, the Mindanao bloc which the Duterte children strongly influence.
Cayetano may have the support of the “supermajority” of congressmen, according to a lawmaker, but not of the Mindanao bloc.
A House source said that unease remains in the Chamber and today the plenary will convene unusually early at 10 a.m. supposedly for the 2021 General Appropriations Bill. The House plenary usually meets at 3 p.m.
Not to be found
Also, while Paolo has been dealt with, Cayetano missed in his trip the other Duterte crucial in the House leadership equation who is Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, head of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) party which helped allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to secure Senate seats in the elections last year.
With his wife, Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, in tow, the Speaker missed the chance to get an audience with Sara, who in 2019 named Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, the other party in the 15-21 deal, as her personal bet for the speakership post.
Velasco was then the selected nominee of ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and other major House blocs for the Speakership before Cayetano expressed his disapproval and insisted on a term-sharing deal.
Last week, Sara designated her brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, as acting city mayor starting Monday until 5 October which raised new possibilities on her involvement in the deal that Cayetano and his allies wanted to write off.
According to her office’s announcement, she had to attend a medical appointment outside Davao City.
Mayor Duterte, a close friend and ally of Velasco, slammed Cayetano last year for threatening her that he will break the “group” which he claims to be crucial in the 2022 elections.
“Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano was correct when he said that he did not seek for my endorsement when he came to Davao to talk to me sometime last year,” the Davao City Mayor earlier said.
“He, however, came with a veiled threat, that if I endorse Rep. Velasco for Speaker, I would break up the ‘group.’ And this, he said, will affect the presidential elections of 2022,” she revealed.
Strong words vs Alan
Sara previously warned of instability, deceit, dissent and distrust in the chamber if the term-sharing agreement for the speakership post that her father proposed will be heeded by the lawmakers.
“HnP will not gun for term-sharing for the Speaker of the House. It is counterproductive. It will slow down the last three years of the administration of President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Sara said. “In a term-sharing situation, the House of Representatives will be racked with unseating the incumbent Speaker, deceit, dissent and distrust,” the presidential daughter explained then as if having the prescience of what is currently transpiring.
Mayor Duterte has proven her influence in the House of Representatives when President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that it was his daughter who moved behind the scene to have former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez ousted hours before the State of the Nation Address in 2018.
Also in Cayetano’s party aside from Lani during the trip were House Committee on Appropriations chair and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Yap and House Deputy Secretary-General Brian Yamsuan.
Davao City Rep. Duterte earlier asked his fellow Mindanao lawmakers to call for the removal of Cayetano as House leader following complaints of unequal distribution of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 2021 among congressional districts.
The Cayetanos were found to have a total of P10-billion worth of DPWH projects inserted in the national expenditure program. Cayetano’s allies are also getting bigger allocations than most House members.
Manifestation of the bloc leaders’ support to Cayetano and appeal to Velasco to forget the term-sharing deal started last Wednesday after the congressmen gathered for a supposed meeting to discuss the red tape-related complaints raised by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Digital shift also for health
Electronic shift of most services should include the provision of services in the public healthcare system which is crucial under the current COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said.
Go in his weekly “GOing Forward” commentary said Senate Bill 1803, or the e-Health System and Services Act of 2020, which he is endorsing will help resolve perennial issues in the health sector which have become more pronounced due to the impact of the health crisis.
“The pandemic continues to limit the physical mobility and face-to-face transactions, which brought to light the need for alternative means of providing healthcare services for our people,” Go noted.
He also explained that as medical institutions try to cope with the various quarantine measures, the need to utilize various modes of technology and innovations in the provision of government healthcare services has become apparent.
“This has made the concept of e-Health an attractive alternative health delivery method for both our medical professionals and our people,” he explained.
Remote treatment possible
Go added that health experts and consumer groups agree that the digitalization of health services, primarily through computer applications and telemedicine, will continue to flourish and grow even well beyond the course of the present pandemic.
“These same groups have also emphasized the increasing relevance and rising demand for digital systems and e-Health services in addressing even non COVID-19 health problems,” he explained.
Presently, the Department of Health (DoH) is promoting e-Health services within the National Capital Region. They are also planning to expand these services to other regions.
A counterpart bill has been filed in the House of Representatives. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, proponent of the bill, said remote medicine services are now essential.
“We’ve set aside medical services for other diseases because COVID-19 has overtaken all other health priorities. But many of these diseases we are neglecting are deadlier and more debilitating than the virus. So, we need alternatives to our traditional modes of healthcare delivery,” Salceda said.
Such an automated system would also reduce fraudulent schemes, which have been hounding the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
Telehealth is harder to defraud since fraud can’t be undertaken unless it is done through connivance with many people in government.
If fraud happens, it can also be easily detected under the method espoused under the bill.
The bills in both Chambers seek to establish the components of electronic health systems, regulate the necessary health and supporting infrastructure, and develop a framework for strategy and investment in the eHealth sector.
It identifies the DoH as its primary regulator and the agency responsible for fundamental policies for coordination and governance of the sector.