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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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OPINIONS

Those unclaimed sweepstakes prizes

Ninfa Leonardia

Why does the Palace insist that Vice President Leni Robredo is NOT a cabinet member? Don’t we all know that already, having voted her into the second highest position in the land? Now the President himself has appointed her to co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, or ICAD. In fact, I would say that even a cabinet position would be a come-down for the vice president, and for her to accept and take upon herself its duties just shows how willing she is to go to work, instead of just standing by.

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Maybe there are some people who feel threatened by her because her position is often described as one that is only “a breath away” from the presidency. But that is what she has been elected for, what our Constitution provides, and I think it is a wise president who gives his “vice” something to do and be useful when she has the talent and the training to be of use, both to him and the country. And if people are getting the impression that the President is not in the “pink”, not “green” of health, he himself is the one who keeps announcing his various ailments. Maybe it is only his spokesman who is nervous about losing his job.

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Now the anti-Leni officials are trying to imply that Leni, being female, may reveal out of turn secrets of the war against drugs! Not only is she a full-fledged lawyer, her late husband was also a brilliant one, so there shouldn’t be any doubt that she knows what she is doing – or saying. And with all the bad news we have been hearing about male officials who have been linked to the drug trade, there should be more justification for naming her to co-chair the ICAD. Let all the women back her and tell her to “Show ‘em how!”

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Have you ever bought a sweepstakes ticket and forgotten all about it? You could be among the winners of a total of P1 billion in unclaimed or forfeited prizes as announced by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. But don’t be too sad over it because your supposed prize is still going to a good cause. The P1 billion in forfeited prizes are transferred to the agency’s Charity Fund and used for medical assistance for needy people who do not have the means to pay for their hospitalization or their medicines.

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Meanwhile, that is a most noteworthy plan that the House of Representatives approved recently, and let us hope it goes through smooth sailing in the Senate, too. This is the House Bill No. 168 that seeks to establish a hospital for overseas Filipino workers, or OFWs that will cater solely to them and their dependents. And why not? The OFWs of this country have contributed much to it, not only through the taxes they pay on their income, but also for the support they are giving to their families back home.

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It seems the bill had already been approved by the previous Congress and why it has not been implemented yet is puzzling. Such a hospital will serve, not only the OFWs, but, naturally their dependents, for whom they are working abroad, in the first place. As House Bill No. 168 states, the OFW Hospital will “provide comprehensive and total health care services to all migrant workers, including Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) contributors and their legal dependents, conduct medical examinations to ensure the mental and physical capability of would-be overseas contract workers…”

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If you were among those who got excited to read the news that the Philippines had gone up six steps higher in the ranking of world talent, clap, but not so loudly. Even with that, we are still the lowest ranking among our Asian neighbors that have gone up several notches more. That was shown in the World Talent Ranking reported by the World Talent Ranking report of the International Institute for Management Development. It means we were 51 st last year and 49 th this year, a two-point rise that is, of course, better than nothing.

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For the first time in several weeks, I found time to go into the Sports pages of the national dailies and was happy to note that such great players as Lebron James are still stealing the show from the younger ones. The item I read said that one of my favorites in the NBA, Kobe Bryant came to watch the Lakers play and Lebron James, knowing he was there, worked so hard, he made 33 points! Of course he wanted to impress Kobe, who was among the Lakers when they won five NBA titles. But where is my other idol, Pau Gasol now?*

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