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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, August 20, 2020
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

How healthy is PhilHealth?

Ninfa Leonardia

At first everybody thought it was the best answer to education during this pandemic. In the United States, schools have gone online in administering education to students from all levels. But later the question came up. How will tuition or payments for the service be collected? I understand that it would be free for everyone since neither classrooms nor teachers would be needed to go to schools and face students in class. As of this writing, I don’t know yet if the problem has been solved. I understand, though, that in the Philippines a similar method of schooling is also being adopted.

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But what about school children in the distant barangays and sitios where such methods are still unknown? Will there be teachers patriotic enough, and dedicated enough to make the sacrifice of walking to the distant schools to do the job? I know teachers are probably among the noblest of our workers, but the present circumstances could faze even the most dedicated workers. So health is not the only victim of this COVID, education is another.

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Isn’t it disgraceful, the way the PhilHealth shenanigans are being exposed? How could one imagine that the agency everybody trusted to help maintain their health, is now being accused and probed for some very unhealthy practices? Among the accusations against it is that the funds allotted to it did not all go to beneficiaries, but to favored private hospitals! And what could have encouraged or tempt it to play favorites? Is it true that the amount that had gone astray has already gone up to billions? Ah, that is another sin that cries to heaven for vengeance!

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Among the suspicions, if not outright accusations, against it is that it has been allocating excessive funds for “COVID response”, and a report on TV even referred to a “Mafia” existing in the agency. And who is being referred to as the “Godfather” of that Mafia? I hope the reader will get the answer from other sources, the STAR is not ready to be charged for libel by naming names, especially of Big people. Isn’t that a very sad commentary on the state of our Health Department?

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But is it good news that domestic flights in the Philippines had already started yesterday? Maybe yes for some, maybe no for others. For those who have been stranded in Manila and other provinces and cities in Luzon, or even in the Visayas and Mindanao, that would be good because they can go home at last. But perhaps they will not be very happily welcomed by friend and kin, especially if they came from areas where the vicious COVID is still raging – but we can’t blame them for wanting to come home, where they will have the support and love of their families and friends. Let’s hope, however, that Health agencies will be on hand to check them before letting them loose in our midst.

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It’s only a little over two months before election time in the United States, and it seems as if even non-Americans from other countries are batting, not for the incumbent Donald Trump, but for his opponent, Joe Biden. It seems as if Trump is going to have a hard time getting reelected, from what we hear from the media. But who knows? Maybe he just does not have good relations with the press? Some items even referred to him as a “dictator”, It also seems most former officials there, even Republicans – Biden is Democrat – are batting for the latter.

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It looks, though, that Trump is not getting the women’s votes, because several of them, prominent ones, were all very vocal in declaring that they were not for him. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was quoted as saying that the presidency was “over his head”. One can believe that, especially after noting him saying “It is what it is” to describe something. And she added boldly that he is “the wrong president for our country”, pointing out that he has not even released any statement about the pandemic that is reducing the population of his country!

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One thing good about the United States is that, whatever happens, they will, and can hold their regular elections. Unlike some other countries like Belarus, where the people suffering under a dictator, tried to insist on an election, but their president, who has designated himself president for life, told them arrogantly “There will be no election until you kill me”. Is he tempting fate, or just very sure of his power and hold on the country? The latest news from there said the people are hoping Russia will intervene. Will it? What if Russia tells them “We mind our own business”?*

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