Tuesday, 3 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, May 26, 2014

President Aquino to lead Navy's 116th anniversary celebration in Palawan

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the 116th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy in Puerto Princesa in Palawan on Tuesday, as well as take a look at a naval station to be rehabilitated following the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

"As part of the ceremony on Tuesday, the President will witness the capability demonstration of the Naval Forces West (NFW) Command Center and the conceptual master plan of Naval Station Carlito Cunanan (NSCC) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

The NFW is the Navy’s primary operational command at the West Philippine Sea, and has been at the forefront of territorial defense operations in the Kalayaan Group of Islands, Lacierda said.

"Its upgraded Command Center, equipped with secure communications equipment and a satellite-based vessel tracking system, will further bolster our defense capabilities and ensure stability in the area," he added.

The Palace official said that Naval Station Carlito Cunanan, named after the first naval officer to support the 1986 EDSA Revolution, has been slated for redevelopment.

Rehabilitation work will include the upgrade of the pier, living quarters, and other support facilities of the Navy.

These latest efforts are in line with the EDCA, through which the government hopes to further improve the country's defense capacities, Lacierda said.

During the celebration, the President will also lead the commemoration of the sacrifices of the country's Marines, who have devoted themselves to protecting the Philippine territorial and maritime borders.

"We recognize their hard work and dedication, and in them find renewed inspiration to maintain our commitment to protect our national sovereignty," Lacierda further said.

"In strengthening the defense mechanisms of our country, the administration makes progressive investments for the long term, leaning forward into the future as we pursue the path to greater national and regional stability." PND (as)

PhilHealth to hospitals: Give patients the benefits they deserve

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Monday warned hospitals to give the benefits that every patient deserves or face government sanctions.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, PhilHealth president and CEO Alex Padilla said they have received information that Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAP) president Dr. Rustico Jimenez came out with a threat that some hospitals would not clear PhilHealth members due to delayed reimbursements from the insurance corporation.

Padilla warned hospitals not to carry out such action because it is against the law and violators will face fines or sanctions.

"This is against the law. This is against their commitment to PhilHealth. All PhilHealth members must be given the full benefits that they are entitled to. No more, no less, basta full benefits ho ‘yon, hindi ho puwedeng paglaruan ‘yan ng mga ospital," he said.

Once a hospital is proven to have violated the law, Padilla said PhilHealth will suspend or revoke its accreditation.

Violators may not get any reimbursement from PhilHealth and can be blacklisted for not following the insurance corporation’s guidelines, Padilla said.

PhilHealth could also call for a boycott by encouraging the public not to patronize certain hospitals, he said.

"Mayroon tayong ganoon in place but we wish to avoid such situation. Kaya sana lang ibigay sa ating mga miyembro ang lahat ng mga benepisyo nila," he said.

The PHAP has complained that some member hospitals are not receiving their reimbursements from PhilHealth on time.

Padilla has denied this but attributed some delays in reimbursement to PhilHealth's shift from the fee-for-service system to the case rates system, which was introduced last January 1.

Under the fee-for-service system, PhilHealth paid for every input, with different rates and prices for different hospitals.

In the case rates system however, PhilHealth makes lump sum payments for the treatment of certain diseases, regardless of the type of hospital or whether it is public or private, Padilla said.

PhilHealth coverage is part of the government’s universal healthcare program, or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan.

In the President’s fourth State of the Nation Address last year, he reported that PhilHealth has so far been able to cover 81 percent of the country’s population. PND (as)

Defense agreement between Philippines and U.S. is constitutional, says Palace

Malacanang on Monday reaffirmed the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing that the Palace has anticipated that there will be “voices not in agreement” with the signing of the EDCA.

Lacierda was referring to a number of petitioners who are contesting the validity of the EDCA at the Supreme Court. Among them are former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tanada, former University of the Philippines President Francisco Nemenzo, Jr, former President of St. Scholastica’s College Sr Mary John Mananzan, former UP College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, and former Congressman Teddy CasiƱo.

The group on Monday filed a temporary restraining order before the High Tribunal to stop the implementation of the agreement.

“We are prepared to defend the constitutionality of the agreement,” Lacierda said.

“We believe that the government can ably support and defend the position in case a petition is filed --- or if a petition has already been filed -- before the Supreme Court,” he said.

EDCA was signed last April 28 by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. PND (ag)