World Newsletter

PHILIPPINES NEWS
8 August 2020

PHILHEALTH MESS CAN BE TRACED TO PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION’

 

MANILA — The alleged anomaly in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

(PhilHealth) could be traced to policies of the state-run health insurer

during the previous administration, a ranking lawmaker has said.

House public accounts committee chairman Mike Defensor said one of the

biggest sources of corruption in PhilHealth is the “all case rates” system

that was established in 2011 during the administration of former president

Benigno Aquino III.

During inquiry of the panel on the controversy last Wednesday, he recalled

that the system accumulated almost P154 billion since 2013 due to the system

that led to overpayment to private hospitals.

“The issue persisted and eventually we are all surprised. This is where

PhilHealth’s problems started, where funds started to go missing,” the

Anakalusugan party-list representative stressed.

Defensor bared that another circular was issued in 2013 for implementation

of the system, prompting PhilHealth to do away with its “fee-for-service”

system where it only pays for the exact amount of the bill that a patient

incurs from a hospital.

Quoting a 2017 Commission on Audit report, Defensor explained that a

pneumonia case is charged P15,000, with over 700,000 claims every year;

while acute gastroenteritis case is charged P6,600 and urinary tract

infection P7,000.

“What is fee for service? If you get sick and spend P5,000, for example,

pneumonia, you only spend P5,000 but because of the case rate or case-based

payment, the hospital will be paid P15,000 (by PhilHealth),” the lawmaker

explained.

Defensor urged the Duterte administration to end this system now.

“Let us abolish all case rates policy under the Duterte administration as

this is the root of corruption in PhilHealth,” he said in Filipino.

 

 

DOH BARES RECALIBRATED COVID-19 RESPONSE AFTER HEALTH GROUP'S TIMEOUT PLEA

 

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday revealed what it described

as an improved response to the global pandemic following the medical

community's appeal for a timeout to arrest the swell of COVID-19 cases.

In a virtual forum, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the agency

would conduct a joint medical strategy in fighting the virus, which has so

far infected nearly 123,000 in the country.

"Kami po dapat ang magpasalamat sa inyo dahil inyo pong tinawag ang aming

pansin para tumugon doon sa mahalagang abiso for a timeout," he told the

Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC).

Duque, who is facing mounting calls for resignation while being investigated

by the Ombudsman in handling the crisis, said the medical community's plea

gave DOH a window of opportunity to reassess, review and recalibrate their

response.

Health Undersecretary Lilibeth David said the agency had proposed a working

group that would address 7 key critical areas of improvement.

These are:

hospital workforce deficiency

case finding and over reliance on rapid test kits

deficiency in contact tracing

transportation safety

workplace safety

public compliance in self-protection

reopening of industries

The DOH also recently launched the One Hospital Command Center, which will

ensure effective and efficient health facility referral in the Philippine

capital region, David said.

It has also implemented Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE), a

patient- and community-focused response strategy with key elements

incorporated from the prevent-detect-isolate-test-treat strategy.

Key components of CODE include community engagement activities to promote

preventive behaviors; active case finding via house-to-house symptom checks;

RT-PCR testing for symptomatic patients; and Oplan Kalinga application for

those needing quarantine and isolation.

 

 

AVIGAN TABLETS FOR COVID-19 CLINICAL TRIALS ARRIVE

 

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed yesterday the arrival of

Avigan tablets for COVID-19 patients in the Philippines.

At a press briefing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the

Avigan tablets – donated by Japan – were received by the national

government.

“They have provided for 100 patients. This has already been approved by the

Food and Drug Administration for its clinical trial and by the Ethics Review

Board and we are just making final arrangement,” she noted.

But she said clinical trials cannot start on Aug. 10 as originally planned

because there are still “legal documents” that need to be finalized.

In a statement, the embassy of Japan said the delivery of the tablets was

part of its “emergency grant aid to countries severely affected by

COVID-19.”

“Japan-made anti-flu drug Avigan has drawn interest from many countries for

its potential to prevent viral replication, even as its effectiveness

against the novel coronavirus is yet to be established,” the statement read.

The embassy said that in response to the requests received from the

international community, Japan has formed close cooperation with several

countries, including the Philippines, to expand clinical research on Avigan

as treatment for COVID-19.

“Each recipient government has acknowledged Avigan’s proper usage and

prescription in view of its known adverse side effects,” the embassy added.

 

 

MEANWHILE, RUSSIA READY TO SUPPLY PHILIPPINES WITH ‘EFFECTIVE,’ ‘SAFE’

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

 

Russia, meanwhile, said it is ready to supply vaccine for COVID-19 once it

becomes available, Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev said yesterday.

In a Zoom interview with reporters, Khovaev said Russia has submitted its

proposals to the Philippine government regarding the vaccine, through the

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and is waiting for response.

He said they provided the Philippine government with three options: join its

clinical trials, supply vaccines to the country or allow local production.

“Our proposals are under consideration of our Philippine partners,” he said.

“We are ready to share our technologies,” the envoy said, adding they will

comply with all domestic procedures.

“We already have the vaccine. All necessary bureaucratic procedures in order

to get an official administrative approval might be completed until

mid-August, after that Russian facilities will be ready to launch production

for this vaccine,” Khovaev said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he has received Russia’s

proposals and has already sent a note verbal to the ambassador.

“Hi Igor. I sent you the note verbale on the proposals with profound

gratitude for Russia’s offer and your warm friendship. If you’ve not gotten

it then may I say there will be hell to pay in DFA,” Locsin said on Twitter

yesterday.

 

 

PHILIPPINES WORSE THAN INDONESIA? NO WORRIES, SAYS PALACE

 

MANILA — There’s no cause for concern regarding reports that the Philippines

has overtaken Indonesia as the Southeast Asian nation with the highest

number of coronavirus infections, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr.

said yesterday.

At a briefing, Roque expressed belief that the Philippines’ increased

testing capacity has allowed it to identify and record more cases compared

to Indonesia.

“What’s clear to me is Indonesia, with almost more or less the same cases as

us, has one-third of the actual testing that we have conducted on our

people,” he said.

Roque said the comparison has no basis and is not conclusive since the

Philippines has tested three times more than Indonesia.

Confirmed cases in the Philippines reached 119,460, with 3,561 new recorded

cases as of Aug. 6.

Based on the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)’s

COVID-19 tracker, Indonesia has recorded a total of 118,753 cases. It also

posted the highest number of COVID-19 deaths among Southeast Asian countries

at 5,521.

For Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, there is a need to put

into context the number of cases reported by the two countries, like their

references to population and health systems.

“The number of our population, settings, health systems are different. When

we try to benchmark with other countries, that’s OK… We have to interpret

with caution,” she said.

 

 

TWITTER NOW LABELS GOVERNMENT , STATE MEDIA ACCOUNTS

 

MANILA — Social media company Twitter will now label government and

state-affiliated media accounts in a bid to make conversations more

transparent on the online platform.

Twitter on Thursday said it would use two distinct profile labels –

“government account” and “state-affiliated media” – to enable users to

easily identify them and their tweets.

The policy had been rolled out to accounts linked with the five permanent

members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia

United Kingdom and the United States – with a future plan to expand to other

countries.

Covered by the new policy are the accounts of key government officials,

including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official

spokespeople and key diplomatic leaders.

However, personal accounts of heads of state such as that of US President

Donald Trump have not been labeled “as these accounts enjoy widespread name

recognition, media attention and public awareness.”

 

 

PHILIPPINES' CORONAVIRUS CASES SOAR TO 122,754 WITH 3,379 NEW INFECTIONS

 

MANILA - The Philippines on Friday reported 3,379 new confirmed COVID-19

cases, raising the nationwide caseload to 122,754, as the capital region

remained under a stricter quarantine status.

In its latest bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said the number of

people who recovered from the contagious disease climbed by 96 to 66,852.

The country's COVID-19 death toll rose to 2,168, with 24 new fatalities

recorded.

 

 

THE REST

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HOUSE-TO-HOUSE SEARCH SET IN 10 METRO MANILA BARANGAYS

 

MANILA — The government is set to conduct a house-to-house check in 10

barangays in Metro Manila to find possible coronavirus disease 2019

(COVID-19) cases, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

The Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) initiative will be

implemented for the next two weeks in Pinagbuhatan, Pasig; Addition Hills,

Mandaluyong; Sucat, Muntinlupa; Potrero, Malabon; Pembo, Makati; San

Antonio, Parañaque; Barangay 12, Caloocan; Batasan Hills, Quezon City;

CAA-BF International, Las Piñas; and Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Undersecretary

Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.

“We are not targeting because we do not even know who among them have

symptoms or exposure. What we are targeting are areas with clustering of

infection. In the next two weeks, there are 10 barangays that will be

visited by the CODE teams,” she said.

Those with symptoms and exposure to confirmed cases will be isolated and

tested.

“We will also check the status of compliance of those undergoing home

quarantine. We have observed that a lot of our positive individuals who are

staying at home are not really compliant with the single bedroom, single

comfort room and no vulnerable population at home (policies),” Vergeire

said.

She assured the public that there will be “extensive contact tracing and

swabbing of those who are eligible to be swabbed.”

 

 

HALF OF PINOYS THINK IT'S DANGEROUS TO BE CRITICAL OF DUTERTE ADMIN: SWS

POLL

 

Some 51 percent of those surveyed said that it is dangerous to broadcast or

print anything critical to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,

a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll showed.

According to the SWS poll, taken last July 3 to 6, of the 51 percent who

agree with the said statement, 23 percent strongly agree with the other 27

percent somewhat agreeing.

On the other hand, 30 percent of those surveyed disagreed that it is

dangerous to publish or print reports critical of the Duterte

Administration, the SWS said.

Of the 30 percent who disagreed, 14 percent somewhat disagreed while 17

percent strongly disagreed.

Meanwhile, 18 percent were undecided on the issue.

The SWS poll was conducted on 1,555 adult Filipinos aged 18 and above

nationwide using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing.

Of the over 1,500 respondents, 306 were from the National Capital Region,

451 in Balance Luzon, 388 in the Visayas, and 410 in Mindanao.

The survey had a sampling error margin of ±2 percent for national

percentages; ±6 percent for Metro Manila; and ±5 percent for Balance Luzon,

Visayas, and Mindanao.

 

 

THOUGH SWAMPED, HOSPITALS WON'T FACE 'LIVE-OR-DIE' OPTION FOR COVID

PATIENTS: DOH EXEC

 

MANILA--The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday sought to dispel concerns

that hospitals might soon be swamped with COVID-19 patients to the point

that they would need to decide who would live or die, as the number of

infections continued to rise.

The government has begun "priming" its pandemic strategy with aggressive

swabbing and contact tracing, while beefing up hospital referrals and bed

capacity, with infections nearing 120,000--the most in Southeast Asia--as of

Thursday.

"We are doing everything possible (so) that we will not reach that point

where we are going to decide who lives and who will not live," Health

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in response to a question in an

online forum.

Fears of COVID-19 cases overwhelming the health care system pushed the

government to recalibrate its pandemic strategy, a move driven also in large

part by complaints made public by overworked medical front liners.

A new referral system is now in place to help ensure that severe and

critical cases, in particular, will be accommodated, while decongesting

hospitals by transferring mild patients to other facilities.

The DOH also plans to hire close to 10,000 health care workers, who will be

needed with hospitals allotting more beds for COVID-19, while also bringing

community-based doctors to Metro Manila as reinforcement.

 

 

PAGASA: BRACE FOR MORE RAINS IN COMING DAYS

 

MANILA — Filipinos should brace for more rains in the coming days as the

low-pressure area east of Luzon was forecast to intensify into a tropical

depression within the next 36 hours, the state weather bureau said

yesterday.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, the low-pressure area was spotted at 455 kilometers

east of Baler, Aurora, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and

Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

It will be locally named Enteng once it develops into a tropical depression.

PAGASA weather specialist Ariel Rojas said the brewing cyclone is likely to

enhance the southwest monsoon, which will bring rains to many parts of Luzon

until Monday.

The weather disturbance was forecast to move north. It was not expected to

hit Philippine landmass, Rojas said.

Monsoon rains will persist over Metro Manila, Bataan, Zambales, Calabarzon

(Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) today.

The trough or extension of the low-pressure area will bring rains over

Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, the rest of Central Luzon, the Bicol

region, the rest of Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, BARMM and Northern

Mindanao.

The rest of Luzon and Mindanao will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies

with isolated rains due to the southwest monsoon and localized

thunderstorms.

PAGASA warned residents of Luzon of possible flooding and landslides during

heavy and prolonged rainfall.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT & LIFESTYLE

 

 

WATCH: SAM MILBY SAYS CATRIONA GRAY IS ‘THE ONE’

 

MANILA — In a rare statement addressing his relationship with Miss Universe

2018 Catriona Gray, actor Sam Milby said Friday he sees the beauty queen as

“the one.”

Milby was asked about his romance with Gray during a virtual media

conference for the upcoming ABS-CBN drama “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin,” where he is

a cast member.

“I do believe she is the one,” Milby answered, when asked on the possibility

of marriage. (See the 1:14:45 mark of the video below.)

“Siyempre, may difference sa edad namin. Ako, I’m 36. She's 26, and

kaka-start pa lang ng career niya. It’s early, but I do believe she is the

one.”

Milby and Gray went public with their relationship in May, more than a year

after they were first linked romantically in December 2018.

After her Miss Universe reign, Gray has so far juggled being a first-time

book author, a singer, and an entrepreneur with a planned jewelry line, on

top of continuing her advocacies.

Milby, whose acting career spans 15 years, meanwhile remains active on

camera, with “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin” marking his latest starring role in a

teleserye.

Drawing from the series’ title, a reporter then asked Milby how he would

respond if another man told him the same phrase, regarding his relationship

with Gray.

The question was an apparent reference to Gray’s former boyfriend, model

Clint Bondad, whose controversial Instagram updates pertaining to “Sam” and

“Cat” stirred intrigue surrounding the new relationship.

“If someone says that to me — ang sa iyo ay akin?” Milby answered. “Kung

akin talaga, ipaglalaban ko. If it’s really mine, I will fight for it. I

will fight for her.”

 

 

SPORTS

 

 

NBA: GRIZZLIES RALLY TO ROUT THUNDER FOR 1ST BUBBLE WIN

 

Dillion Brooks scored 22 points, and Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas added

19 apiece, and the Memphis Grizzlies recovered from a big, early deficit to

down the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-92 on Friday (US time).

Memphis was behind by 17 points in the first quarter, but outscored Oklahoma

City 38-23 in the second to take the halftime lead 63-60.

The Grizzlies pulled away in the third quarter, where they outscored the

Thunder 32-18.

The win, Memphis' first in 5 games in the seedings stage, enabled the

Grizzlies (33-37) to hold on to the No. 8 spot in the West playoff race.

The Portland Trailblazers (32-38) are a game behind, while the San Antonio

Spurs (30-38) -- winners over the Utah Jazz on the day's first game -- the

streaking Phoenix Suns (30-39), the New Orleans Pelicans (29-39), and the

Sacramento Kings (29-40) are just on the fringes.

Chris Paul led the Thunder with 17 points.

 

 

NBA: SPURS CRUISE TO VICTORY OVER HOBBLED JAZZ

 

Derrick White scored 24 points, and the San Antonio Spurs had little trouble

beating the Utah Jazz missing key players 119-111 on Friday (US time).

All Spurs starters scored in double digits against Utah, which were without

Donovan Mitchell (leg), Rudy Gobert (rest) and Mike Conley (knee).

San Antonio used a strong start to go up 19-6 and never looked back.

Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 24 points and 4 3-pointers.

Jakob Poetl added 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Rudy Gay came

off the bench to tally 14 points and 3 steals for the Spurs, whose victory

kept the race for the 8th and final seat in the West close.

San Antonio is now 2 games adrift of No. 8 the Memphis Grizzlies, who beat

the Oklahoma City Thunder later in the day.

 

 

NBA: EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA BIGS POWER SIXERS PAST MAGIC

 

Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris each tallied a double-double, and the

Philadelphia 76ers broke loose from the Orlando Magic in the fourth quarter

to win 108-101 on Friday (US time).

Back-to-back baskets by Al Horford ignited a 9-1 run to give the 76ers a

97-87 lead, en route to victory despite the absence of Ben Simmons (knee).

Embiid finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, Harris added 23 and 15,

while Horford had 21 and 9.

Evan Fournier scored 22 points to lead the Magic.

 

 

INDICATORS

 

FOREX $1 = P 49.04

 

 

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

 

There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application

of a rough truth. - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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