New Philhealth policy, unfair, unjust, cry Red protesters PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 December 2011 17:05

“Philhealth, why 4Ps lang? Accept LGU accreditation”; “Philhealth para sa lahat na mahihirap”; “Sustain the 50% counterpart of the Persons with Disabilities”, “Be fair and just”; “Philhealth, un grande ayuda pabor no kita”.

These are just some of the sentiments expressed by the crowd of beneficiaries who marched the streets yesterday morning to protest what they called an unfair and unjust new Philhealth policy that is set to be implemented starting January 2012.

Donning red shirts and red ribbons, the placard-bearing marchers braved the scorching sun and walked from Paseo del Mar to the Philhealth office in Gov. Lim Avenue (junction Veterans Avenue) and later to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office along Vicente Alvarez St. where representatives from different sectors took turns in expressing their sentiments over the impending new policy.

Mayor Celso Lobregat supported and joined the march initiated by different sectors affected. Councilors Abdurahman and Lilia Nuno also participated in the march in support of the cause of the barangay sector.

The beneficiaries of the city government sponsored Philhealth program were prompted to stage the protest march yesterday in view of the anticipated new sponsorship policy that makes only those included in the list yielded from the National Housing Targeting System (NHTS) survey (done in relation to the government’s
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps), as eligible for the Philhealth sponsorship program starting 2012.

Under the present program, each beneficiary is entitled to a one-year PhilHealth insurance for P1,200, of which the local government unit shoulders the P600 while the national government shoulders the remaining P600.

Accordingly, only a little over 5,000 of the total number of beneficiaries of the city’s Philhealth program are included in the NHTS survey list and are assured of continuous share from the national government. Over 20,000 coming from various sectors are expected to be affected by the new policy.

Based on records from the City Social Welfare and Development Office, the sectors and number of beneficiaries of the Philhealth sponsored program in the city are the following: barangay indigents- 17, 308; Rural Improvement Club (RIC)-1, 471; urban poor groups- 3,478; Senior Citizens- 1,190; former barangay officials- 728; Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)- 498; Trained hilots- 103; TB Task Force – 68; Deportees- 35; Child Care workers- 23; Day Care Workers (DCW)- 90; Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS)- 42; Retired Barangay Health Workers- 10; Press Club members- 35; Job Orders- 80 and other sectors- 563 for a total of 25,722.

Misael “Doglo” Bernardo, representing the barangay sector said the Philhealth program is something that the barangay tanods and other indigent groups can look up to in times of diseases or illnesses. He said tanods and other volunteers risk their lives and limbs if only to help keep the barangays safe and receive a measly allowance of P1, 000 a month.  Taking away their Philhealth benefits will be very unjust and unfair of the tanods and volunteers, he said.

Also, Bernardo lamented that the NHTS survey conducted by personnel from the DSWD did not have proper coordination with the barangay officials.
“I regret to tell you na wala hong nangyari sa aming barangay niyan. Walang nangyaring house to house survey”, the Maasin barangay chairman said when asked to speak during the marchers’ stop over at the DSWD regional office.

Other speakers included Tito Espiritusanto, Liga ng mga Barangay executive vice president; Corazon Herico of the senior citizen sector; Lilia Macansantos of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC), Violeta Alejandro/ Ernesto San Antonio of the Homeowners Association/ urban Poor association; Claudia Faustino from the Day Care workers group; Porferia Balan from the barnagay health works and barangay nutrition scholars group and Teddy Kahil and Frederic Bawiga of the persons with disabilities sector.
Mayor Lobregat has earlier sought reconsideration from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through Secretary Jesse Robredo and the Department of Health (DOH) through Secretary Enrique Ona and former Philhealth chief executive officer Dr. Rey Aquino on the new sponsorship policy. However, the government is bent on implementing the policy starting January 2012 nationwide.

Lobregat told officials from the Philhealth and the DSWD who confronted the marchers to do their best and explain to their individual heads of office or secretaries in Manila regarding the plight of the beneficiaries who will be affected by the new policy.

He hoped that if ever there will be a review of the NHTS survey results or the policy itself, the national government’s contribution of one half of the yearly Philhealth fee will continue even after December 31.

The mayor stressed that considering only those in the 4Ps program as ones to have Philhealth benefits is unfair and unjust.

Speaking on behalf of the marchers during the stopover outside the DSWD regional office, the mayor said the march protest was purposely to express the sentiments of the affected beneficiaries and for the local PHILHEALTH and DSWD to relay to their heads of office about the moves undertaken by different sectors.
As this developed, DSWD regional director Teodulo Romo assured that he will immediately communicate with Sec. Dinky Soliman to convey the message of the marchers. He expressed strong support to the cause of the marchers. — Sheila Covarrubias