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House Support snowballs for Compensation of Affected Residents of Marawi Siege

October 15, 2019

There is an outpour of support for the House of Representatives measure seeking to provide compensation to the people of Marawi City who have been suffering from the effects of the siege in 2017.    Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, one of the primary authors of House Bill (HB) No. 3543 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act together with Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan, said that some 94 lawmakers have signed the measure as co-authors, bringing support to the measure to more than 30 percent of the Chamber.    "Marami tayong kasama dito sa Kongreso na naniniwala na dapat magkaroon ng compensation ang mga taga-Marawi na naging biktima ng digmaan. Alam nating hindi mababayaran ng pera ang buhay, bahay at kabuhayang nawala, pero makakatulong ito sa pagbangon ng ilan sa ating mga kapatid sa Marawi," Hataman, a former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said.    "At nagpapasalamat ako sa mga kasama natin sa Kongreso na sumusuporta sa bill na ito, pati na rin sa panukala nila Lanao del Sur Reps. Ansaruddin Adiong at Yasser Alonto-Balindong. Sana magtuloy-tuloy itong maging batas sa lalong madaling panahon at magkaroon naman tayo ng ayuda para sa mga taga-Marawi na dalawang taon nang naghihintay ng tulong," he added.    Hataman said the enactment of the measure is of utmost importance, as the people of Marawi City commemorates the second anniversary of the liberation of the city from violent extremists on Oct. 17.    Among those who sought co-authorship of the Marawi compensation measure include House Deputy Speakers Paolo Duterte, Ferdinand Hernandez, Evelina Escudero, Prospero Pichay Jr., Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Johnny Pimentel, Raneo Abu, Neptali Gonzales II, Dan Fernandez, Baby Arenas, Pablo John Garcia, DV Savellano and Michael Romero, as well as Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.      Marawi Sub-Committee    Hataman also bared that the proposal to create a House sub-committee on Marawi under the House Committee on Disaster Management has been met with a favorable response from the House leadership.    "It is fitting because Lanao Rep. Adiong will chair the said committee. Para mas maka-focus tayo sa concerns ng Marawi. Mas mabibigyan natin ng boses ang mga taga-Marawi kung may isang komite na nakatutok dito," he said.    The former community organizer, along with Rep. Sangcopan, met with civil society organizations (CSOs) in Marawi a few weeks ago where they asked them to close ranks and speak in "one strong and loud voice" for a meaningful impact in the rehabilitation efforts.    Among the concerns raised during last month's meeting involved the ongoing demolition of damaged structures in Marawi and the cases of missing civilians that have yet to be resolved.    "Sana habang sinisimulan na ang demolition ng mga bahay at building sa Marawi, bilisan na rin ang pagpapasa ng Compensation Bill upang mapawi na ang mga agam-agam ng ating mga kababayan. I believe compensation will have a profound impact on the people more than what they will get for agreeing to demolish their properties," Hataman noted.    HB 3543 is currently making the rounds in the House of Representatives to gather more signatures. ###

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DOH awaits test results of 3 children with poliovirus

October 15, 2019

MARAWI City--Three more children with “polio-like symptoms” were admitted to a local hospital here as health officials launched a province-wide vaccination on Monday to eradicate the crippling infectious disease. Lanao del Sur is where the first confirmed case of polio was reported 19 years after its supposed eradication in the country. Dr. Shalimar Sani Rakiin, chief of the Amai Pakpak Medical Center said the three children — all siblings and all under five years old — were admitted to the hospital last week. “All exhibited a weakening of their leg muscles which are symptoms of the polio virus,” Rakiin appraised Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other officials here. Duque immediately asked for stool samples to be sent to the DOH Research Institute for Tropical medicine to confirm if these are really new cases of polio. “The confirmatory test results are important because not all symptoms of weakening leg muscles are polio,” Duque said. Synchronized Polio Kontra Duque arrived here Monday with World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund representatives to launch the “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” (Synchronized Polio Vaccination) campaign to vaccinate all children under five in Lanao del Sur and other high-risk areas in Mindanao and the National Capital Region. According to the DOH, polio is a highly contagious disease transmitted through the fecal-oral route, caused by the poliovirus and may result in life-long paralysis and even death, but is vaccine-preventable. The vaccination campaign “aims to boost immunization coverage against polio by giving three doses of the oral polio vaccine to all children five years old and below, regardless of their immunization status.” It said full vaccination against the poliovirus is the best way to prevent the transmission of the disease. The first round is scheduled on October 14 to 27 in the National Capital Region and in Mindanao’s Lanao del Sur, Davao City and Davao del Sur; the second and third rounds in all regions of Mindanao from November 25 until December 7 and from January 6 to 18, 2020. The UNICEF brought 197,944 doses of vaccines for Lanao del Sur’s 167,749 children last Oct. 10. Duque said the children in the province are vulnerable especially in houses with no toilets. A DOH study made in 2007 revealed that only ten houses out of 100 have toilets. Duque said the penetration rate of vaccination in the province is low at 60 percent. “This is not high enough to ensure children in Lanao del Sur against polio and other diseases,” he said. The DOH scheduled the first round of vaccination in Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Davao del Sur, and Davao City from October 14 and will be expanded to the whole of Mindanao on November 25, 2019. The last round will be on January 6, 2020. In the National Capital Region, the second fround of vaccination was held on October 14 with the third round on November 25. Fear Lanao del Sur Board member Abdulhamid Amerbitor said one of the reasons of the poor acceptance of vaccination among Maranao parents is fear. Amerbitor said the parents fear the vaccines will make their children sick. He said another reason is many parents mistakenly think the vaccines did not pass halal standards. “We have to go house to house to dispel these beliefs. It is very tiring,” Amerbitor said. Amerbitor said the news that a three-year-old girl from Marugong town tested positive for the polio virus scared most parents. “Maybe they will allow their children to be vaccinated this time because it is not easy to have a sick child in the family,” he said. Dr. Alinader Minalang, Lanao del Sur provincial health officer said the test conducted along Marugong river near where the child lives, had yielded negative for poliovirus. The child originally resided in Quiapo, Manila where health officials suspect she may have contracted the highly infectious disease. Minalang said the girl’s parents could not produce any yellow booklet that would indicate the child was vaccinated in Quiapo. He said the family settled in Marugong in 2017 and because of her age was not included in the anti-polio system of the province. Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, Health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said they have given orders to their field commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces to ensure the health personnel are welcome to their camps when they come to vaccinate their children. Dipatuan said they field commanders vowed to cooperate. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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DOH orders monitoring of 3 siblings due to poliovirus

October 15, 2019

MARAWI City--The Department of Health (DOH) has directed the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) to monitor and conduct surveillance against the three siblings from Lanao del Sur who showed symptoms of poliovirus. In a press briefing in Marawi on Monday (October 15), Dr. Shalimar Rakiin, chief of Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC), confirmed that the patients are siblings aged 10, 5, and 2 years old who are experiencing fever and pain of their lower extremities upon their admission. In September, a three-year old girl from the municipality of Marogong was tested positive of poliovirus, one of the two patients reported, almost 20 years after the Philippines was declared polio-free in 2000. IPHO chief Dr. Alinader Minalang said the patient first manifested of having poliovirus in July. On Monday, the DOH launched the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio in Marawi targeting 134,411 children under five years old in the province to be vaccinated in the first round of mass immunization against poliovirus by October 27. The launching also kicked-off the house-to-house intensified campaign urging parents in 39 municipalities, including Marawi City, to immunize their children. The DOH declared the re-emergence of polio in the Philippines last September 19 after two polio cases were confirmed in a 3 year-old from Lanao del Sur and in a 5 year-old from Laguna. "The task before us, to address the outbreak, is enormous and vast," Doque said in a statement during the launching. The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is helping the campaign by tapping the influence of religious leaders in Marawi and Lanao del Sur. Religious leaders, with their influence, have an important role in the campaign according to Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative, because they can deliver sermons to influence mothers, fathers and caregivers to have their children vaccinated. The Philippines has seen a decline of immunization coverage in the past few years, including for protection against polio according to the World Health Organization. In 2018, 66% of children completed their oral polio vaccine (drops) doses and 45% received their inactivated polio vaccine (injection) dose. At least 95% of children under 5 years of age need to be vaccinated, irrespective of their current vaccination status, to stop the spread of polio in the country. The second round of mass immunization will be on November and the last round will at the end of this year targeting 97% of the children five under be vaccinated.

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Chinese firms invest $4B in Misor integrated steel mill

October 14, 2019

Huili Investment Fund Management Co. Ltd (Huili Fund) is set to pour in US$4 billion for the Philippines’ first fully integrated steel mill to be located in Phividec, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. The first phase shall have an estimated annual output of about 5 million tons.      This investment shall generate approximately 10,000 direct hires employment from the region. Upstream and downstream industries shall generate about 40,000-50,000 jobs.       Huili Baowu CISDI Integrated Steel Mill (HBCIS), Philippine’s first fully integrated steel mill, is formed by China’s three leading companies - Huili Fund, Baowu Steel Group Corporation Ltd (China Baowu), and China Mettalurgical Group Corporation’s subsidiary, CISDI Group Co Ltd. (CISDI).       China Baowu,  the new technical partner to operate the steel mill, currently ranks first in China and second in the world as the largest steel producer in the world measured by crude steel output. China Baowu uses state-of-art, green and intelligent technology in its steel plants.      CISDI shall design the steel mill. And A Brown Company, Inc.’s subsidiary, Simple Homes Development, Inc., is partnering with Huili Fund for the land lease with option to purchase the 600-hectare property at the Phividec Industrial Estates.      This new investment in Mindanao is foreseen to create a new industrial city which translates to economic boom with the introduction of institutional facilities such as housing and condominium, commercial mall, restaurant, and accommodation facilities in the area.

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Malasakit Center in Iligan opens

October 14, 2019

ILIGAN City--The city government of Iligan opened on Wednesday, October 9, the Malasakit Center, located at the second floor of the Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital (City Hospital) in Barangay Pala-o, here.      Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who joined the launching with the city officials and department heads of the LGU, said the facility will provide easier and better access to government medical assistance to Iliganons and residents of nearby towns and cities.      The launch was led by Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV). OPAV was a partner of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President in establishing earlier Malasakit Centers when Go was still with the executive branch.      The Malasakit Center in Iligan is the 43rd in the country and 12th in Mindanao.      “Sa una, mopila pamo… Lunes, adto mo sa PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office). Martes, pila napud mo adto mo sa DOH (Department of Health). Miyerkoles, adto mo’g DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), Huwebes adto mo’g Philhealth. Hurot imong panahon, hurot inyong plete, mopatak pa inyong bill. Motabang nah sila sa inyoha, mohatag tag-10 mil. Pero ang sobra, inyong bayaran. Karon, ang sobra sa inyong hospital bill, ang Malasakit Center na maoy mobayad,” Go said.      (Before, you have to line up. Monday, you are going to PCSO, Tuesday, you will take your line at the DOH, Wednesday you are going to the DSWD, Thursday to Philhealth. It will take much of your time, your money for transportation (to avail financial help), and your bill is adding up. These agencies will help you but you have to pay for the excess of your bills. But now, the Malasakit Center will pay it.)      “The target here is for you to go home with zero balance billing,” Go added.      Representatives of PCSO, DOH, DSWD and Philhealth are seen inside one room the facility that constituents are no longer spending time to visit their offices and line up to financial help for their hospital bills.      In a media interaction, Go stressed that Malasakit Center will help everybody despite of political affiliations.      “Tutulungan ang lahat, walang pulitika, kahit sino pa. This is your money, we are giving it back to you,” he said.      During his message, Go said that healthcare is one of the priorities of the President, which prompted him to file a bill institutionalizing Malasakit Centers in the country.      In July, Go filed the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 with the aim of institutionalizing that the centers will be established in all DOH-run hospitals to cover more Filipinos receive help.      Senate Bill 1076, or “An Act Establishing Malasakit Centers in all Department of Health Hospitals in the Country, and Providing Funds Therefor,” aims to “provide medical and financial assistance to indigent and financially incapacitated patients” through one-stop shops called Malasakit Centers. The process of providing government assistance to the recipients is streamlined in these offices.      Go said the bill has so far received enormous support from other senators and the Lower House has also began deliberations on similar measure.      “Sa kabutihang palad, napakarami po sa ating mga kapwa senador ang nagpakita ng kanilang suporta sa adhikain nating ito. Matagumpay din po nating nadepensahan ang panukalang batas sa interpellation period nito sa Senado,” Go said.      Asked on his other plans to improve the country’s healthcare system during an ambush interview, Go said that he has filed for additional measures addressing other health concerns of Filipinos.      “Ako, nagpasa ako ng mga panukalang batas para ma-improve ang kapakanan ng atin mga barangay health workers, 911 para sa buong bansa, pag-expand ng immunization program ng gobyerno at mas lalong mapaganda ang nursing education sa bansa,” Go responded, enumerating the health-related bills he filed in the Senate in July.      Go filed in July SB 392, or the “Barangay Health Workers Act of 2019”, to ensure that enough BHWs are serving the country’s barangays; SB 394, or the “Emergency Medical Services System (EMSS) Act of 2019”, which provides for an emergency services program to Filipinos akin to Davao’s 911; SB 395, or the “Advanced Nursing Act of 2019”, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9173 (Philippine Nursing Act of 2002), providing for an advanced nursing education program; and SB 398 that provides for the expansion of the coverage of the existing mandatory basic immunization program of the government under RA No. 10152.      “Pero I’m here to oversee na magamit ng maayos ang pera ng gobyerno para sa kalusugan ng mga Pilipino,” the senator, who is also chair of Senate Committee on Health, added.      The senator also said that he will coordinate with the Department of Health to see how the department can assist private hospitals that need funds to provide healthcare services.      Meanwhile, he reminded those who need medical assistance to go to the nearest Malasakit Centers, especially that the country is currently embattled with various public health concerns.      “Ngayon po may polio outbreak, at iba pang health concerns. Kung kailangan po ninyo ng tulong, dumulog lamang po kayo sa pinakamalapit na Malasakit Center. Pera po ninyo iyan. Ibinabalik lamang sa inyo,” said Go.      Go added that he seeks the institutionalization of such centers so that Filipinos can benefit from them even when President Rodrigo Duterte is no longer president.      “Basta ako, itinataguyod ko na ma-institutionalize ang mga one-stop shop na ito para kahit hindi na pangulo si President Duterte, makinabang pa rin dito ang mga Pilipino,” he said.

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New measure to require public execs to commute

October 14, 2019

ILIGAN City--A lawmaker from the lone district of this city is proposing a new measure requiring public officials to commute every Monday. Rep Frederick Siao said he will propose that all elected and government officials to commute every Monday to reduce traffic congestion and vehicle volume in Metro Manila. This after Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo accepted the "commute challenge" on Friday enduring an almost four hour commute from Marikina to Malacañang. "We appreciate the effort and good example of Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo when he endured his 3 1/2 hour commute from Marikina to Malacanang. His gesture can help show to the public that the government knows the situation on the ground and that Malacanang is not an isolated seat of government," said Siao, chairman of the House committee on civil service and professional regulation. Siao clarified that the proposal is "initially every Monday" for all government vehicles used to fetch and bring home public officials, from the division chiefs to cabinet secretaries to elected officials, would be grounded at their respective motor pools. "That would already be thousands of government vehicles off the streets, enough to significantly decongest traffic. Those ranking civil servants should commute using any of the available options: tricycles, jeepneys, buses, FX/UVs, light rail, PNR trains and TNVS units. Kung gustong magbisikleta, pwede rin. Tuwing Monday lang naman," Siao said. He said he was inspired by the idea of former AANGAT TAYO party-list representative Neil Abayon's proposal during the 17th Congress for the government officials commuting atleast once a month. "But my improvement on that idea is these officials should commute at least every Monday so they will be reminded weekly of the suffering the masses endure on a consistent basis," he added. The concept of the House Bill, which will be entitled "Public Servants' Commuting via Public Transport Act", can be given a trial run all over Metro Manila, and can be replicated in other highly urbanized areas of the country where heavy traffic is also a daily torment, if successful. “Kapag naisabatas po ito, makakaasa po ang publiko na mas mamadaliin naming mga government officials na solusyunan ang problema sa transportasyon,” Siao said. "I note that Secretary Panelo had to ride three different jeepneys to get from Marikina in the east to Malacanang in the west. LTFRB (Land Transportation and Franchise Regulatory Board) may have to take a close look at the sufficiency of PUVs on that route, especially now that the LRT2 is not in full operation because of a recent fire," he added. Siao said, "there may also be a need for shorter North to South bus routes via EDSA because by the time the buses reach Makati, they are jampacked. Same with the bus and PUJ route from Fairview-Novaliches to Manila. More PUVs may be needed. Maybe a midpoint turnaround zone can be identified for the shorter bus routes."

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