Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PHILHEALTH REFORMS EXPECTED TO CURB FRAUD AND IMPROVE BENEFITS

Fraud in connection with PhilHealth payments to health care providers first came to light in May, 2015.   This resulted in a riveting Senate investigation in the latter part of 2015 that brought to the limelight even more details about this serious problem, particularly among eye centers and ophthalmologists.  PhilHealth has since taken various concrete measures to curb fraud and to save the funds so that these can be used to improve the benefits of members who are estimated to be around 90-92% of the population.
 
PhilHealth benefit payments have almost doubled in less than three years.  In 2015, PhilHealth paid 97B in benefits from 55.5B in 2013.   The shift from fee for service to Case Rates also streamlined the claims payment and reduced turnaround time by 50%.    However, much has still to be done to reduce out of pocket payments for members.  In order to achieve this, PhilHealth must improve collection efficiency, restructure and prioritize its benefit packages so that it can pay more for the disease that burden the country most, and curb fraud.
 
In the last 8 months since October, 2015,  PhilHealth’s Committee on Appealed Administrative Cases (CAAC) decided 111 cases and as of June 20, 2016, has a zero backlog.   Several administrative and criminal cases have recently been filed against health care providers, not just among eye centers and eye doctors, but against all other health care providers who have abused the privilege of PhilHealth accreditation.  Public education to inform members about their rights as patients and about unethical and illegal practices such as solicitation with inducements and kickbacks, is also being undertaken.   In a recent meeting, the PhilHealth Board also approved the filing of administrative cases at the Professional Regulations Commission and the publication of cases in media.   The benefit packages are being studied so that safety parameters and controls can be put in place to promote patient safety and fraud mitigation.   An Ad hoc committee to investigate non-compliance of Board directives by PhilHealth staff has also been formed. These stringent measures are expected to significantly curtail fraud and abuse.
 
In addition to the above, a proactive approach to mitigating fraud is to strengthen the Risk Management Committee to identify potential areas of risk and to put forward action steps.  The Corporation’s enterprise architecture and dash board have likewise made monitoring of benefits availed of and the movement of funds much easier to undertake.  It has also beefed up its Information Security program. 
 
All the above are envisioned to plug leakages and will allow PhilHealth to increase the support value for members in terms of better benefits and lower out of pocket payments. In line with this, the Benefits Committee is looking at introducing a Guaranteed Health Package for important disease conditions that cause 80% of the country’s disease burden.  This means that for these conditions, the poor will be guaranteed truly no balanced billing while those who can afford some co-payment will be guaranteed a fixed and reasonable co-payment.  The other diseases that make up the 20% of the disease burden will be subject to a clear and transparent Nomination Process.  It is hoped that through all these measures PhilHealth will truly be able to deliver on its mandate of financial risk protection. (END)
  
 
 Reference:  Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas
                   OIC-Vice President, Corporate Affairs Group
                   0915-6450808

Singaporean website owner jailed for anti-Pinoy, anti-foreigner content

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean man behind a defunct website that published made-up articles stirring hatred against Filipinos and other foreigners in the city-state was jailed for eight months Tuesday for sedition.
State prosecutors had pushed for a strong deterrent sentence on Yang Kaiheng, owner of The Real Singapore (TRS) website, saying the articles on which the charges were based were "designed to provoke hatred against foreigners in Singapore".
Yang, 27, had earlier claimed trial but later pleaded guilty to six charges of sowing discord between locals and foreigners in a series of articles, three of which state prosecutors said contained "blatant falsehoods designed to insert prominent xenophobic" references.
One article falsely said that a Filipino family instigated a fracas at a Hindu festival in 2015. Another fabricated article alleged that a Chinese woman made her grandson urinate into a bottle inside a metro train.
The articles were mostly designed to inflame hatred against Filipino, mainland Chinese and Indian nationals working in labor-starved Singapore, the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors described Yang as a "calculating opportunist, who realized that by generating a groundswell of resentment towards foreigners, he could attract readers to the TRS website and thereby generate vast sums of advertising revenue".
Yang's Australian wife, Ai Takagi, who wrote or edited the articles, was sentenced in March to 10 months in jail also for sedition.
The popular website, which earned the duo hundreds of thousands in advertising revenue, was shut down after Takagi and Yang were arrested while visiting the island last year. Both were based in Australia.
Takagi's sentence is the stiffest so far ever imposed for sedition in the strict city-state, which clamps down hard on any activity seen as promoting racial and class hatred.
State prosecutors described Yang as the "proprietor" and "distributor" of TRS and said a tough sentence on him "must reflect the fact that this is the most serious case of sedition to date in Singapore".
District court Judge Chay Yuen Fatt noted that Yang had pleaded guilty on Friday, the day results showed that Britain had voted to bolt out of the European Union.
"To put it bluntly, nationalism can degenerate very rapidly into xenophobia, racism, intolerance and violence," the judge said.
"Brexit is an example and a reminder of how strong, uncertain and unpredictable these emotions can be and the ramifications that these feelings can and have caused."
Sedition laws in Singapore make it an offense to promote hostility between different races or classes in the multiracial society, which is mainly ethnic Chinese with large Malay and Indian minorities.
Critics, however, say sedition laws, dating back to British colonial rule, can be used to restrict free speech.
About 40 per cent of the city-state's 5.5 million people are foreigners, many of them from China, India and the Philippines. — Agence France-Presse

7 Pinoy students among thousands affected by West Virginia flooding

Seven Filipino students from De La Salle University - College of St. Benilde were among the thousands affected by the flooding in West Virginia that killed 24 people over the weekend.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said the seven students were part of a group of 55 Filipino students undergoing on-the-job training at Greenbriar Resort.
According to the DFA, the Embassy's Consular Section confirmed that they are in "good condition" and are currently housed "in safer surroundings within the resort."
"The Embassy has also gotten in touch with the local chapter of the De La Salle University Alumni Association, who is spearheading a drive to gather supplies for the students," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said.
Days of heavy rain have caused massive flooding in the state, where high waters have washed away cars, trapped hundreds and cut power to large areas.
More than 21,300 people were without power across the state Saturday evening according to the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Hundreds of homes had been severely damaged or destroyed and more than 60 roads remained closed, it said.
President Barack Obama declared the flooding a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

35 Pinoys get scholarships for higher studies in Europe

A total of 35 Filipinos will pursue MA and PhD programs in different universities in Europe after they won scholarships under the European Union's Erasmus+ Program in the coming weeks.
This, as the Philippine government continues to assess the possible effects of the United Kingdom's withdrawal of membership from the EU to Filipino scholars pursuing studies in UK territories.
EU Ambassador Franz Jessen together with Mr Mattias Lentz, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the EU Delegation to the Philippines and Erasmus+ alumni pose with outgoing Erasmus+ scholars who shall study throughout the European Union in the coming months during a reception held last 27 June at the EU Delegation office in Makati City.Photo courtesy of EU Delegation to the Philippines


"We don't have the answers to all the questions at this point. Hopefully, things will become clearer in the coming days as people start to grasp the full implication of UK's exit from EU," said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose on Wednesday.
GMA News Online tried contacting EU's office in the Philippines for its comment, but it has yet to respond as of posting time.
According to a statement from the European Union's Delegation to the Philippines, the 35 students were briefed by EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen in a reception held June 27 on their responsibilities as Erasmus+ scholars.
Jessen said Erasmus+ scholars must strive to "become ambassadors of goodwill and agents of change to help strengthen the partnership between the EU and the Philippines."
He also urged the scholars to return to the Philippines after their studies to "give back to their country".
The Erasmus+ scholarship allows scholars to pursue their studies in more than one country for one to two years. It also covers their air fare and tuition and doles out a monthly living allowance of P55,000 to P138,000.
The Erasmus+ exchange program was renamed in 2013 when the EU raised its education and training program from 3.1 billion euros to 5 billion euros. —KBK, GMA News

Pinay's vegan footwear brand making headlines in LA

An LA-based shoe company owned by a Filipino-American aims to deliver "vegan" footwear to modern women looking for stylish and sustainable fashion statements beginning this summer.
Bianca Moran Mabanta's SUSI Studio has already been featured in Forbes and Huffington Post for advocating "a fulfilling and stylish life without partaking in inhumane practices."
"A woman should never have to compromise her values for fashion," Moran told Huffington Post. "Susi is all about cute and conscious consumerism."
The female-owned and -operated studio also has a commitment to "encourage women of all walks of life to take the first step to pursue their passion"  through its "Start Today" campaign.
"We’re all deeply aware of how in this modern day and age, women still need to work ten times harder than men do to prove their worth. It’s because of this that we support each other and push each other’s boundaries to be our best," Moran told Forbes.
SUSI's Summer 2016 line of chunky heels, mary janes, and wedges, also caught the attention of fashion sites such as Los Angeles Racked for its sweet, sensible, Sixties-inspired footwear.
Moran explained in an interview with The Mutant Season in February that the goal of SUSI was to "create vegan options or more sustainable options" for shoes, food, and other retail options.


SUSI was also a way to connect with Moran's Filipino roots and work in a bit of wordplay into her company.
"I was visiting Philippines where my parents were originally from and I didn't really grow up there but I wanted Susi's identity to kinda be tied in with my own roots," she explained.
"And I found out that susi- the word meant "key"- and it kinda sounded like sustainability and I was like, well, I'm trying to build a brand that's sustainable... so the slogan could be the key to sustainable living," Moran added.
Moran is also a filmmaker and restaurateur, having established SUSI Restaurant, a vegan-vegetarian European restaurant, in Bonifacio Global City in the Philippines last year. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Campaign to have Pinay war hero flown home launched

GoFundMe page was set up to bring home the only Asian woman to receive the US Silver Star during World War II for burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The page, set up by a member of the American Legion Bataan Post 600, aims to help the family of Magdalena Estoista Leones fly her body home on July 6.
Leones passed away on June 16 at the age of 95.
The "Lioness of Filipina agents" won the third highest honor for valor in the US Army for risking "her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory."


From February 27 to September 26, 1944, the Kalinga-born soldier transmitted information on enemy ships and their skippers in La Union to government forces and blew up planes on an airstrip in Tuguegarao.
Leones, who earned the rank of corporal, was caught thrice by Japanese forces but she managed to escape and save the lives of others using the Nihongo she learned while in captivity.
Despite her exploits, Leones decided to keep them secret from her family and moved to California in 1969 to work as a clerk.
Guillermo Tabor, one of her sons, told East Bay Times that they only learned of their mother's past when he did research after his daughter's birth.
"She kept it always a big secret, so now that she's gone, I want to make sure that she gets the honor she deserves," Tabor said.
His daughter once wrote a book report about her and had to bring proof of Leones' heroism to prove the authenticity of her account.
"The teacher didn't believe her... So she brought the medal to school," Tabor said.
Leones' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is still pending approval from the Philippine government. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pope names Filipino priest as new Saipan bishop

Pope Francis has named Dumaguete native Father Ryan Jimenez as the new bishop of the Church in Oceania.
The 44-year-old prelate will lead as the second bishop of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in Saipan, the largest island of the Northern Mariana Islands. He succeeds Bishop Emeritus Tomas Camacho, who served the diocese for 25 years until his retirement in 2010.
Serving as a priest for only 12 years, Jimenez has been serving as the apostolic administrator of the diocese with 15 priests and 21 female religious catering to more than 43,000 Catholics.
Jimenez finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Divinity from the Ateneo de Manila University before heading to Saipan in 1997.
He also studied at the St. Patrick Seminary and University in California, USA where he earned his Masters Degree in Theology in 2003. He was ordained a priest for the diocese in June of the same year.
Jimenez will be officially ordained as bishop on August 14, 2016, at the Chalan Kanoa cathedral.
Dumageuete Bishop Fr. Julio Cortes deemed the appointment of Jimenez a great news.
“Let us rejoice and pray for Bishop Ryan as he takes on the apostolic responsibility,” Cortes said. —Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena/ALG, GMA News

Monday, June 27, 2016

Government, NGOs and Partners Spent P40.7B for 2015 RPRH Services


                                                            
Expenditures for the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) of Filipinos increased to 40.70 billion pesos from 26.8 billion in 2014. This was the highlight of the Department of Health (DOH) RPRH Report for 2015.

The leap in expenditure came despite last year’s hampered implementation due to the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court in June 2015.

According to the 2015 RPRH Accomplishment Report, the TRO prevented DOH and other agencies mandated to implement the RPRH Law from implementing the subdermal implant method of family planning.

Moreover, DOH Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin attributes the increase in expenditure to the performance of the health department in utilization of its budget.

“I would attribute it to the good performance of DOH for the past months, for the past year. Because our utilization is not only good but fast, systematic, and planned. We don’t have delays because agencies and partners work together in a very much well-defined directions,” Garin explained.

The 2015 Accomplishment Report unveiled last June 22 showed that budget expenditure for Health Facilities Enhancement Program posted a 32% improvement at 89% from only 57% in 2014. For the Expanded Program on Immunization, the utilization rate increased to 99% from 95% in 2014. By the end of 2015, 78% of funds for Family Health and Responsible Parenting has been used, compared to only 61% during the previous year.


2015 Budget Appropriations

The Report said that 53% of the total expenditure came from the DOH at P21.74 billion, almost doubled from P14.32 billion in the previous year.

Funding for the demand generation came from POPCOM’s RPRH activities at P240 million, better than the P198 million last 2014.

POPCOM reached 599,310 clients through 55,493 Barangay RPRH classes for both 4Ps and non-4Ps beneficiaries. Through Pre-Marriage Counselling (PMC), they reached 117,583 couples while Usapan Serye reached 25,063 clients.

PhilHealth’s reimbursement services at P12.80 billion added much in the total budget, 13% higher from P11.3 billion in 2014.

The bulk of claims covered by PhilHealth at P10.14 billion were paid for 992,442 women that gave birth at a facility. This is a huge increase from the 736,707 women that gave birth in a facility in 2014 pegged at P7.64 billion worth of claims.

“Our budget comes from premium collection or investments. We paid for premium contributions of the marginalized members. Last year, we were able to collect 96 billion pesos coming from different sectors of society. Out of 96 billion, 13 billion were paid for the providers of family planning and all others. It also covered benefits such as prenatal, newborn screening and soon to be given as stated in the law, the inborn diseases of babies,” said PhilHealth President and CEO Atty. Alexander Padilla.

RH service providers include more than 750 PhilHealth accredited public hospitals and infirmaries, more than 2,553 accredited Primary Care Benefit providers, and 2,981 accredited Maternity Care Package providers in the country.

In addition to government funds, developments partners and Civil Society Organizations spent P5.92 billion and P238 million, respectively to help RPRH implementation.
The report emphasized that the success in securing the 2015 budget strengthened the RPRH Law’s first full year implementation.


Accomplishments Quantified

The five key areas that were left unfinished as Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were highlighted in the report:

(1)  Maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition

Out of the 1.5 million live births in 2015, an estimated 1.2 million were covered by the Department of Health (DOH). These deliveries were facility-based and done by skilled birth attendants.

(2)  Family Planning

The use of modern FP methods has been steadily increasing over the years. Almost 5.5 million women are using modern family planning methods, with pills gaining the highest utilization. This means more and more women and couples are now giving more importance on the number, timing and spacing of their children.

(3)  Adolescent sexuality and reproductive health

POPCOM has been empowering young people through the U4U Teen Trail initiative. Reaching 1.3 million adolescents, U4U is an interactive mix of face-to-face and online activities aimed to educate the youth on various concerns that directly or indirectly affect them. 

ASRH services such as the Program for Young Parents (PYP) have already been integrated among 25 hospitals nationwide. In 2015, the PYP provided counseling services to 134,000 young people.

(4)  Sexually-transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS

IEC materials about HIV/AIDS are being disseminated including hotline numbers of hygiene clinics which offer free testing services nationwide. 

In 2015, DOH procured anti-retroviral drugs worth P220 million; to be delivered in 2016 to attend to more than 15,000 people living with HIV.

(5)  Gender-based violence

The Women and Children Protection Unit of DOH recorded 4,699 cases of violence against children and 23,865 cases of violence against women.

Critical services have been devoted to help the victims as mandated by the Magna Carta of Women. As of 2015, 87% of the 42,029 barangays have already established VAW desks.

Improvements were felt in the state of RPRH in the country in 2015 but still it remains both a challenge and a renewed commitment in the years to come is needed especially due to the TRO on some provisions of the RPRH Law and the cooperation of the Local Government Units (LGU).

“We hope that the DILG and the Union of Local Authorities can be asked (…) to restrain the LGUs from passing policies against the RPRH law. They should help in crafting and implementing ordinances for solid implementation of the RPRH Law," said Commission on Population Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III.

While the outgoing head of agencies mandated to implement RPRH expressed their commitment for their agencies, they also seek same passion to be given by the incoming cabinets to RPRH.

“Make it known that PhilHealth is there for the mothers and children to pay for the services. It’s easy for mothers to register with us. It’s in the law, even if not members of PhilHealth, they can avail of the benefits,” Padilla said.

“Even with the partners, even with POPCOM, DOH and other government agencies, we always emphasize that we have to minimize trainings and advocacies. We now have to maximize service delivery,” Garin noted.

###















From L-R: Former Health Secretary Ezperanza Cabral, Head of the RPRH National Implementation Team; Dr. Janette-Loreto Garin, DOH Health Secretary; and Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM Executive Director, poses after the unveiling of the 2015 RPRH Accomplishment Report.

Contact: Information Management and Communications Division - Commission on Population
Tel.: (02) 531-6978                                        Cell Phone: 0916-707-0379
Email: imcdcentral@gmail.com                  Website: www.popcom.gov.ph


Palace cites Pinoy sailors on Seafarers’ Day

Malacañang on Saturday lauded Filipino seafarers, saying they are one of the best sailors being sought after by shipping companies in the world.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in an interview on state-run dzRB,  praised Filipino seafarers on the occasion of the observance of the Day of the Seafarer.
He said, "Kaisa tayo ng sambayanan sa pagbibigay pugay sa mga Pilipinong mandaragat.
"Filipinos are highly regarded in the global maritime industry  ... (because of) their competence, skill, and high level of professionalism."
Based on data culled from various government sources by GMA News Research, there were a close to 400,000 Filipino sailors in various shipping industries in the world in 2014.

Source: Compendium of OFW statistics 2009-2014

In a report on its web site, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that for the "Day of the Seafarer 2016," they have adopted as their campaign theme: "At Sea for All."
This is to highlight the seafarers' contribution to global trade and to let the world  know how and why seafarers are indispensable to everyone, the report said.
"This year, on June 25th, the Day of the Seafarer, we are once again asking people everywhere to show their appreciation for the seafarers that quietly, mostly unnoticed, keep the wheels of the world in motion," IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim. — LBG, GMA News

OFW-turned-money lender found dead in Rizal

A former OFW turned businesswoman was found dead in a grassy field in Antipolo City earlier this week with multiple stab wounds on her body, according to a report by GMA News' Emil Sumangil on "24 Oras" on Friday.
The body of Miriam Bermas, 48, was dumped in front of a cemetery, the report said. Aside from the stab wounds mostly in her chest, her upper lip was also torn. Police have ruled out robbery as the victim was found with all her jewelry intact.
Bermas' relatives believe she knew her killer and are looking into the possibility that the killing is connected with her money-lending business.
"Puro naman dun umiikot ang every ano niya, 'yung routine niya. Maniningil, kokolektahin 'yung mga ganitong payroll," said Mimi Bermas, the victim's daughter, in the report.
Based on CCTV footage taken by security cameras outside the gym she went to with her friends on June 19, Bermas was last seen alive entering a Toyota Fortuner.
She was still wearing the same outfit she was seen sporting in the gym when her body was found, the report said.
Mimi urged her mother's killer to surrender. "I'm sure na kahit papano natulungan ka ng nanay ko. How could you even do that? Puro sa puso, parang ganun. Gusto kitang maintindihan. So kung uusigin ka ng konsensiya mo," she said.
Rizal Provincial Director Sr. Supt. Adriano Enong Jr. said the case will be transferred to his division to expedite the probe.
"Dito na sa provincial level ko paimbestigahan ito. Parang i-takeover namin yung kaso para lang magkakaroon ng linaw itong kaso na ito," Enong said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Two Fil-Ams poised to make history – again

SAN FRANCISCO  – Two Filipino Americans in two counties are poised to make political history again as a result of the June 7 primaries. 
Daly City Council Member Mike Guingona, the first Filipino American elected in Daly City, is gunning for a political seat never occupied by a Filipino or Asian American, while Contra Costa Ambrose Recreation and Park District board member Mae Cendana-Torlakson aims to be the first Fil-Am woman elected to the California State Legislature.
Both will duel with their co-winners in the Nov. 8 runoff.
Guingona, five-time mayor of the city in the continental United States with the highest concentration of Filipino Americans, will face fellow Daly City Council Member and current Vice Mayor David Canepa to represent District 5 on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.
Canepa bested a field of four with 5,991 or 45.74 percent of the vote in the primary.  Guingona placed second with 2,840 or 21.68 percent. Torlakson placed first in her race by getting 25,380 or 32.5 percent; her opponent Timothy Grayson came a close second with 25,022 or 32.1 percent to represent Assembly District 14 covering Vallejo-Concord.
Meanwhile, incumbent Assembly Member Rob Bonta, who in 2012 broke the Assembly race barrier for Fil-Ams, sailed through with 60,092 votes or 87.9 percent over challenger Roseann Slonsky-Breault, who got 8,000 or 11.7 percent of votes for District 18 covering Oakland-San Leandro
The outcome in Daly City, northernmost town in San Mateo County, fulfills prognostication that the candidates from this city with over 100,000 would beat the candidates from the smaller towns. Cliff Lentz, current mayor of Brisbane, took 2,336 for 17.84 percent.  Helen Fisicaro, current vice mayor of Colma, received 1,930 votes of 14.74 percent.
Placing second did not dampen Guingona's famous confidence.
"I am energized and excited to be in the runoff election despite being outspent by my opponents," he told Philippine News.
Topnotcher Canepa opted for magnanimity.
“We are humbled to make the top two and we will work hard to earn their (voter) support in November,” Canepa told Philippine News day after the primaries.
Guingona, seniormost of all four primary candidates with nearly a quarter of a century in governance, is optimistic the finals will favor him.
"The November general election will be very different as voter turnout was somewhat low even in this historic primary election,” he gave his analysis.  “The general election will include many more voters who will select only one of two candidates for Supervisor this time and not among four. I am already working to secure new endorsements and supporters and continuing to reach out to voters directly.”
The next round is a completely new contest, he told Philippine News, asking the electorate to fulfill his forecast.
“Like Hillary Clinton, my election will be an historic first for our community as I would be the first Asian – Pacific Islander San Mateo County Supervisor in our county’s 160 years of existence. I invite every voter in the district to help me make history."
Both candidates boast Filipino-American leaders in their camps. —Philippine News

Friday, June 24, 2016

Learning centers for undocumented Pinoy kids in Malaysia earn embassy execs awards

Three officials from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur received the Gawad Mabini Award for pioneering alternative learning centers (ALCs) for undocumented Filipino children in Sabah, Malaysia.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya, Embassy Attaché Atty. Norren Joy Calip, and Social Welfare Attaché Bernard Bonina were recognized for the establishment of six Filipino community-run ALCs.
Gawad Mabini awardees from the Embassy pose for this photo after the awarding (from left): former Social Welfare Attache Bernard Bonina, Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya and Attache Atty. Norren Joy Calip. PHL Embassy photo
At least 2,500 Filipino children from undocumented migrant families were able to achieve basic through the ALCs staffed by volunteers and financed by donations and community fund-raising.
“Filipino children in Sabah are in a precarious situation, and our initiatives are mere first steps in a long journey, but we are hopeful that with the support of all stakeholders, we will be able to improve their lives through education, one child at a time," Malaya said in a statement.
Malaya received the rank of Grand Cross (Dakilang Kamanong) along with Maria Zenaida Angara Collinson, Ambassador to Austria; Jesus S. Domingo, Ambassador to New Zealand; Maria Theresa S. Lazaro, Ambassador to France; Domingo P. Nolasco, Ambassador to Italy; Wlfredo C. Santos, Ambassador to Qatar; and Carlos D. Sorreta, Ambassador to Russia.
Calip earned the rank of Member (Kasugo) for assisting Malaya on the ALC project.
Others who received the Member rank include Anika A. Fernandez of the DFA Cebu Regional Office and Gladys O. Perey of the Embassy in Lebanon.
Bonina was rewarded with the rank of Distinguished Member (Dakilang Kasugo) for helping Filipino victims of trafficking nad for other assistance-to-nationals work.
He received the rank along with Dennis John Briones of the DFA Office of American Affairs; Donna Celeste Feliciano-Gatmaytan of the DFA Office of United Nations and International Organizations, and Siegfred Masangkay of the Philippine Embassy in Syria.
President Benigno Aquino III and acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras bestowed the honors at the ceremony, held in line with the founding anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Gawad Mabini is conferred on Filipinos "who have rendered distinguished foreign service, or helped promote the interests and prestige of the Philippines abroad."
It was established through Presidential Decree No. 490, s. 1974 and named after Apolinario Mabini, the first DFA secretary. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pinoy seafarers urged to teach kin how to work, save money

The global shipping industry, which carries 80 percent of international trade, employs about 1.2 million seafarers, the bulk of which come from the Philippines.

Apart from manning oil tankers, Filipino sailors work on board luxury liners and passenger vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks.
Due to their sheer number and dedication, Filipino seafarers were able to remit $5.575 billion by the end of December 2014.
However, seafarers remain vulnerable to poverty after their retirement. Apart from making frivolous expenses, seafarers find it difficult to set aside money and maintain an emergency fund, a Marine Insight report said.
Filipino seafarers in particular also have the added problem of supporting their extended families regardless of their ability to work, according to an article on Research Gate published in June last year.
For Capt. Gaudencio Morales, head of the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP), these extended families have become "excess baggage" to an ordinary Filipino seafarer.
"Karamihan ng nagmamarino galing sa hirap. Kumbaga, excess baggage, marami silang tinutulungan," Morales said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Morales said for a seafarer to save money for his retirement, he should lessen these excess baggage.
"Ini-encourage din namin sila, dapat mabawasan 'yun, kahit konti," he said. "Dahil karamihan ng excess baggage umaasa na lang doon sa kanila, so 'pag hindi napagbigyan, magkakaroon ng sama ng loob."
To curb this problem, Leyzam Gaspay, son of a former seafarer, said seafarers must teach their kin to become self-reliant and wean them off unconditional aid.
"Ang maipapayo ko na tulong sa ganyang bagay, tulungan natin sila kung paano sila makapag self-produce ng sarili nila para hindi habang-buhay [ay] lagi silang umaasa sa 'yo," Gaspay said.
"Nandito tayo para tumulong. Pero siyempre mas maganda kung tayo din tutulungan natin sila kung pano nila mapaunlad yung sarili nila," he added.
But what would ultimately keep a Filipino seafarer's family comfortable is their ability to save up cash for future use.
"Mabawasan lang ng konti at itabi nila, hindi naman yung ibinawas nila ay gagastusin din nila. Maaring pagsakay nila, halimbawa, isang kontrata, maglagay na sila dun ng isang amount na itabi talaga," Gaspay said.
Becoming entrepreneurs would also make sure that a seafarer's hard work pays off at the end of his career.
Gaspay's father, William, won the 2015 edition of the contest, which seeks to fund the best business proposal from Filipino seafarers looking to become entrepreneurs.
Morales invited seafarers and their families to join this year's competition, saying participating in it would give them valuable training they can use for their future business ventures.
"Inaanyayahan namin ang lahat ng seafarers, pati na ang pamilya ng seafarers, lalo na yung mga misis, na mag-join kayo... para magkaroon kayo, kahit hindi kayo manalo ng grand prize na P500,000, magkakaroon kayo ng kaalaman sa negosyo," he said.
"Walang forever sa pagbabarko. Dapat isipin nila 'yun," he added. —KBK, GMA News

OFWs can watch Duterte inauguration via Facebook livestream

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other Filipinos abroad could watch President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's inauguration on June 30 via livestream on Facebook, his chief spokesperson said Wednesday.
"The streaming of the inauguration on Facebook is mainly for those who don't have access to television and radio in the Philippines," said incoming Presidential Communications head Martin Andanar at a press briefing in Davao City.
"In other words, those outside the country, the OFWs, the millions of Filipinos who follow the President," he added.
Andanar said livestreaming Duterte's inauguration on Facebook is also a way for the next administration to keep up with the 21st century.
"We are in the 21st century. That's the new medium. That's just part of the menu," he said, referring to Facebook. "With 51 million Filipinos on Facebook, it is just practical to stream it there."
Duterte, during the campaign period, was the most talked about presidential candidate on Facebook. A tough-talking mayor of Davao City and the first Philippine president from Mindanao, he topped the Overseas Absentee Voting, raking in 121,000 votes. Trisha Macas/KBK, GMA News

Community hails departed Fil-Am leader

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.  - Filipino-American officials last week lined up to praise Erlinda Tiongco Galeon, the popular community leader who passed away June 13 at her home in Daly City where she lived for over 40 years. She was 75.
Mrs. Galeon had become a pillar in Daly City in the 15 years she dedicated to public service. She was current president of the Daly City Libraries Commission, last year's president of the Filipino American Democratic Club of San Mateo County and the Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center, multi-term president of the Philippine Association of University Women and California Federation of Women's Clubs - Golden Gate District, 2008 president of ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment Kumares and Kumpares, and member of the board of numerous organizations often nonprofit or political, domestic and overseas, including the US Pinoys for Good Government.
Erlinda Tiongco-Galeon was 2013 Outstanding Citizen of Daly City.Photo by Voltaire Yap/Philippine News
Her brand of leadership defined commitment and generosity, urging others—in her unapologetic frankness—to fulfill their civic duty.
"Tita Erlinda made sure to remind me in her direct style that it was my turn to be president of the FilAm Democratic Club,"  said congressional aide Mark Nagales, drawing approval from attendees familiar with Mrs. Galeon's candor at the memorial following Mass on June 17 at the St. Veronica Parish Center here.
Nagales, constituent services director for US Rep. Jackie Speier, presented the Tiongco - Galeon family a flag he said was flown over Capitol Hill in honor of the departed Filipino-American leader.
Philippine Consul Gen. Henry Bensurto Jr. paid last respects with his wife Mariza, a niece to Mrs. Galeon.
California Assembly member Phil Ting, Daly City Vice Mayor David Canepa and Council Member Ray Buenaventura, led officials and their representatives in hailing Mrs. Galeon. She had donated to their campaigns and rallied allies to do the same.
It was pioneer community advocate and South San Francisco resident Alice Bulos, who encouraged Mrs. Galeon to get involved after the latter's husband died in the early 2000s and mentored her in political empowerment, shared Buenaventura. 
In recent years, Mrs. Galeon joined fellow Daly City resident, PBRC board chair Perla Ibarrientos, in coordinating city projects and developing local leadership, Ibarrientos said in her tearful eulogy.
Tributes echoed Mrs. Galeon's tirelessness and generosity for campaigns and causes she embraced.  A Music graduate of Centro Escolar University, which was co-founded by her grandmother, she was passionate about education, culture and the arts. She studied Early Childhood Education at Skyline College in San Bruno and eventually earned a master’s in Gerontology from Notre Dame University in Belmont, Calif. 

She kept an exhaustive calendar, driving up and down San Mateo County even after she was diagnosed with cancer after a routine mammogram a few years ago.
PAUW stalwart and Holy Child & St. Martin Episcopal Church congregant Marietta Carmona-Flores got the news straight from her best friend.
"Linda bravely fought the cancer and stayed positive," Flores, who grew up with Mrs. Galeon in Pandacan, Manila, gave personal glimpses of Mrs. Galeon’s youth. They loved the month of May, when they made traditional floral offerings to the Blessed Virgin Mary and afterwards played all day long. As teens they double-dated, the only way their parents allowed them to go out with the opposite gender, she said.
Separated when Mrs. Galeon in the 1960s sought new horizons in California, they reunited when Mrs. Flores traveled the same route and began shadowing her chum at community engagements.
They were inseparable at events where Flores was happy to keep to the sidelines while her friend stood in the spotlight.
Ever attuned to current events, Mrs. Galeon called her on June 7 to check if she had voted.  By then Mrs. Galeon was in hospice care, having declined treatments upon learning she had a brain tumor.
Mrs. Galeon had carried on with typical energy that news of her new health setback came as a surprise even to confidantes.
On April 30 she and her ALLICE Kumares and Kumpares staged their 10th annual presentation and health fair on elder care and abuse prevention, said ALLICE Kumare Elsa Agasid.

"Ate Erlinda made sure we were well fed and brought a big platter of pancit at the final rehearsal" just as she did at all gatherings, Agasid noted about the all-volunteer team's "big sister."
Mrs. Galeon gave profusely and was not one to ask for favors, except from her best friend.

"She called to say she wanted my pancit sotanghon, so I cooked it and brought it to her and we enjoyed it together," Flores lovingly recalled their last encounter.  Flores regretted her inability to deliver the next request, Pancit Malabon and Lumpiang Hubad, because she was caring for her ailing son.
Flores got a call the day she purchased ingredients for her friend's meal and found out she was too late.
Daly City's 2013 Outstanding Citizen and 2012 Woman of Excellence had died peacefully, surrounded by her family, before noon that Monday.
Mrs. Galeon was born Erlinda Tiongco on March 1, 1941, in the Philippines.  She was predeceased by her husband George Galeon.  She is survived by her son Andy Galeon and daughter Audrey Galeon-Tabuso, their spouses and children; her sisters Rosie T. Cabrera and Marie T. Sands of California, brother Joey and sister Cora Tiongco of Manila; relatives, friends and allies.

Mass will be offered in Mrs. Galeon’s memory at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, June 26, at Holy Child & St. Martine Episcopal Church on 777 Southgate Ave., Daly City CA 94015.  For more information, call (650)991-1560.  PBRC is offering Mass followed by reception 6 p.m., Friday, July 8 at 2121 Junipero Serra Boulevard, Daly City CA 94015.  For more information call (650) 992-9110.

The public is welcome to attend both events.    —Philippine News
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