Cigarette prices to increase more with passage of Universal Health Care Bill – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   August 16, 2018   •   6553


A man taps ashes off his cigarette into an ashtray filled with cigarette. | REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

MANILA, Philippines – The prices of cigarettes are seen to go up further as higher tariffs are set to be imposed on tobacco products to fund the Universal Health Care Bill, which aims to provide Filipinos with access to health services.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the increase in tobacco prices is due to the new round of sin taxes which will be on top of the hikes under the first package of the Tax Reform Law.

The tax hikes will be a major source of funding once The Universal Health Care Law is enacted. Over P135B fund is needed for the first year of its implementation and a total of P256B for the fourth year.

“Eighty-five percent (85%) of the incremental proceeds will go to health and 80% of the 85% share of the health sector doon pupunta sa PhilHealth at iyon namang bente porsyento ay para mapondohan ang ating mga health facilities enhancement program,” Duque explained.

Though the amount of the price increase still depends on the decision of the lawmakers, Secretary Duque believes this is a win-win solution for the health of the Filipinos.

He also supports Senator Jv Ejercito’s proposal to hike cigarette prices to P90.00 per pack. If the Congress approves the bill, the government will collect more revenue compared to the current P35.00 price per pack in 2019.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng proceeds po ng about P45B. Malaking bahagi nito mapupunta sa pagpondo ng PhilHealth para doon po sa mahihirap na walang kakayahang magbayad ng kanilang pagiging miyembro,” he added.

The health official believes this move would also save more lives and reduce the number of smokers. It would also save the government billions of pesos in treating sick Filipino smokers.

Our target is to really bring it down to the 14% level of smoking prevalence from a high of 21.47% pero iyang 21. 47% bumaba na rin iyan kasi nagkaroon na rin tayo ng sin tax,” he concluded. F

The World Health Organization has reported that 17 Filipinos are dying every hour due to smoking.- Aiko Miguel / UNTV News and Rescue

Lacson open to talking to Duque amid conflict of interest claims

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he is open to a dialogue with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who is facing allegations of conflict of interest.

Lacson made the statement in response to Duque’s remark that he is trying to reach out to the senator to clarify his claims.

READ: Duque to reach out to Lacson on conflict of interest claims

However, rather than having a dialogue, the senator believes it would be better for Duque to explain the issue to the public.

“At the end of the day its between him and God, it’s between him and his conscience, it’s between him and the public,” Lacson told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

Lacson recently revealed that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building being leased by PhilHealth in Pangasinan.

Duque has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.

The senator also bared that the health chief has been setting up meetings with several congressmen who are allies of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was during Arroyo’s presidency when Duque was appointed as Health secretary in 2005.

“Ang impormasyon ko nakikiusap siya sa kaalyado ng dating Pangulong Arroyo na magkaroon ng pagpupulong sa mga kongresista, kung bakit hindi ko alam,” Lacson said.

(Based on the information I received he is talking with the allies of former President Arroyo to have a meeting with congressmen. Why? I don’t know.)

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to investigate Duque and other issues dogging the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Phillhealth).

Lacson hopes that Duque will attend the inquiry to shed some light on these issues, particularly the alleged corruption within Philhealth.

“It seems na meron talagang mafia-like group sa PhilHealth na nagmamanipula ng pondo,” he said.

(It seems there really is a mafia-like group in PhilHealth that manipulates funds.)

Lacson said his exposé about the anomalies in PhilHealth is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to fight corruption, which the chief executive emphasized in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Duque won’t be asked to file a leave amid corruption probe — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   August 1, 2019

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte will not ask Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to file a leave of absence despite an imminent investigation against him for allegations of impropriety.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon is set to probe Duque for alleged conflict of interest over deals between the government and pharmaceutical companies owned by his family, and for allowing PhilHealth office in Pangasinan to rent in a family-owned property.

“That is his call,” said Panelo.

Panelo asked critics to let the due process of law take its course on the matter.

He added that while the investigation is ongoing, the presumption of innocence remains on the accused under the Constitution.

“Those who charge him should submit proof to support their accusations,” Panelo concluded. — with reports from Rosalie Coz

Duque to reach out to Lacson on conflict of interest claims

Robie de Guzman   •   July 30, 2019

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (L) and Senator Panfilo Lacson (R)

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday expressed hope to reach out to Senator Panfilo Lacson to discuss the latter’s allegations on conflict of interest.

“I have been trying, but so far, to no avail,” Duque told reporters in an interview Tuesday.

“I will probably need to identify a person who will be able to help bridge us so that we can come together, hopefully just help one another for the sake of government and for the sake of public service,” he added.

Lacson recently bared that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged two government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building leased by Philhealth in Pangasinan.

Duque has denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.

The health chief said he has filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on the issue of the building being leased by Philhealth in Dagupan town in Pangasinan.

“Meron na kaso tayong complaint na naka-file sa Ombudsman, and my lawyer has advised me to wait until the complaint affidavit has been submitted to us,” he said.

Duque, meanwhile, believes that he still has President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust despite the allegations he is facing.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that Duque still enjoys the trust of the president even as probe into the allegations against the health official begins. (RDG with details from Aiko Miguel)


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