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Charlie V. Manalo

Bill seeks P1.16-B budget supplement on Dengvaxia

Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

A bill House appropriations committee chairman Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles has filed seeks to allot a special P1.16 billion fund to assist children who had been administered with the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
Nograles said the allocation would come from the refund representing some P1.16 billion worth of unused vials, which was returned by the government to Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur through its local distributor Zuellig Pharma.
Nograles said the P1.16 billion supplemental budget will be used to fund the much needed medical support for the children who were administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine such as medical assistance for hospitalization, medical kits, out-patient

care services, including laboratory tests, among others.
“This will ensure prompt and pinpointed delivery of necessary medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccinees even as the Department of Health (DoH) continue to monitor their state in the months following their inoculation. Also, this is to allay the fears of the public on the purported effects of Dengvaxia and to prevent further deaths and illnesses of those administered with the vaccine,” Nograles said.
“Regardless of the cause of these deaths and illnesses, it is incumbent upon the State to intervene by providing assistance to those who were administered with the vaccine. This is in line with the State’s policy of protecting and promoting the right to health of the people,” he added.
Dengvaxia, a relatively new drug manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, was used in a P3-billion mass anti-dengue immunization program during the tail end of the Aquino administration in April 2016. This made the Philippines the first country in the world to do so.
Then, in November 2017, the French pharmaceutical firm released results of its long-term follow-up study which showed that Dengvaxia gave an increased risk in those who are seronegative or not yet infected with dengue at the time of first vaccinate.
     830,000 given shots
At this point, over 830,000 Filipino school children have already been given Dengvaxia shots. From this figure, at least 39 kids have already died, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a joint House panel last February 26.
Facing allegations of negligence and even corruption, the Department of Health suspended the administration of Dengvaxia and upon the demand of the government, Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of the Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, refunded the amount of around P 1.16 Billion covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.
In his bill, Nograles said the P1.16 billion fund would be appropriated to fund the assistance to the Dengvaxia vaccinees, which amount shall be used exclusively for the following activities and/or projects, namely: (a) Human Resource for Health (HRH) Deployment; (b) Public Health Management; and (c) Assistance to Indigent Patients either Confined or Out-Patient in Government Hospitals/ Specialty Hospitals / LGU Hospitals / Philippine General Hospital / West Visayas State University Hospital.
Nograles said it is incumbent upon the State to provide assistance to those who were administered Dengvaxia, which apparently took three dosages to complete. Duque said some of those who passed away had only one vaccination.
“The money is already there and all we have to do now is to put it to good use. Using Sanofi’s refund is the least we could do to try to correct a possible misstep with this particular mass vaccination program,” said Nograles.
The appropriations authorized in the proposed Act shall be available for release and obligation for the purposes specified from the date of effectivity up to December 31, 2018. Congress had earlier passed the P3.767-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018.
Certifications received by the Nograles camp showed that the P1.16-billion refund—which covered unused Dengvaxia vaccines—has already been transmitted to the National Treasury as of January 26, 2018.

Speaker Alvarez admits slip in PDP senatorial slate

Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

It takes guts to admit a mistake. And that was what Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez demonstrated yesterday when he humbly admitted he erred in the list of senatoriables comprising the dominant  Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino slate for 2019 he provided the media as he unintentionally omitted the names of party stalwart, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez and Malacañang Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson.
Alvarez said Benitez and Uson are entrenched in the list of prospective senatorial candidates of PDP, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last Tuesday, Alvarez spoke before 5,000 new party members in Caloocan City, urging them to support the party’s 2019 senatorial bets.  Inadvertently excluded in the announcement were the names of Benitez and Uson.
“I really forgot to mention Albee (Benitez), he is really included in the line-up,” said Alvarez.
In endorsing Benitez’s to the PDP slate, Alvarez stressed that the Negros Occidental solon is needed in the Senate to help guarantee legislative support for the Duterte government’s housing and urban development programs.
However, Benitez has yet to reveal his political intentions for 2019.
New in the list mentioned by Alvarez is Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice that recently voted to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Among the names already included in the PDP list were those of Reps. Zajid Mangudadatu (Maguindanao); Geraldine Roman (Bataan) and Karlo Nograles (Davao City); presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Secretary Christopher Go, presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
“They have to manifest their intention (to run) and rate well in surveys,”.Alvarez said
“They have to support federalism because that is the advocacy of the party, as well as rank well in surveys.  If they do not rate well, then that (senate run) will be a political suicide,” said Alvarez.
“The performance in surveys is important because we want our candidates to win,” he added.            

The House Committee on Tourism yesterday assured it will compel local government officials in Boracay to account for the P3 billion environment fees they have collected for the past 20 years, vowing to recommend prosecuting then if found to have malversed the fund.
At the same time, panel chair Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez said the House panel supports the plan to temporarily close Boracay island to give way to its rehabilitation.
In a press briefing, Gomez revealed that officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) explained during an executive session that they are taking steps to hold into account local government officials responsible in the collection and disbursement of the P75 environment fee imposed on Boracay visitors.
Based on the annual two million tourist arrival, collections from the environmental fee could easily reach P150 million  year or an aggregate total of P3 billion for the past 20 years.
According to Gomez, the investigation into the disbursement of the funds has been conducted, with those involved in irregularities, if any, expected to be prosecuted.
Torres said Boracay island has brought P60 billion in tourism receipts for the government and establishments in the premiere tourist spot of the country.
“A closure would then result in monthly losses estimated at P5 billion. This is definitely a hefty sum and both business establishments and residents will suffer the consequences,” she explained.
According to her the economic implications of closure have been considered by the House panel but it has decided to “put more weight on the long-term viability and sustainability of tourism” in the Aklan island.
“Fixing Boracay now, however painful, is plainly necessary.  Some establishments declare themselves compliant to all laws and regulations, and therefore claim immunity to retribution,” she said.
The House panel recommended the creation of a Philippine Sustainable Tourism Council that would address tourism issues and ensure sustainable development in tourism areas of the country.






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