Sunday, March 24, 2019

Social Commentary: Universal Healthcare for All Filipinos

It was in August of 2018 that I fall in line to pay for the annual Philhealth contribution of my sister and her family and I was glad to see hundreds of people who also fall in line to invest for health in exchange for a good Healthcare benefits offered by the agency.  As a Healthcare worker, I have pledged not only for the healing of the sick people but also to become an advocate for health promotion and prevention. That time as I sit on a chair and wait for my number to flash on the screen, I had a realization that people no matter their economic status is now becoming more aware of the advantages of having a healthy family that is free of illnesses and diseases and becoming a productive contributor in the society. 

But how about those individual or families who have no access to basic healthcare due to economic hardship? They may feel ineligible and intimidated for their Healthcare rights and they remain to be vulnerable to health crisis and health threat. 

I was glad to know that on February 21, 2019, finally the Universal Healthcare Act has been enacted into a law which grants all Filipinos to have access to affordable and better healthcare. This is a positive and perhaps the greatest measure towards a healthier citizens leading to productivity and wellness - - perhaps decades in the making.

Talking about the agency that has the mandate for its implementation, the Philippine Health Insurance Company or better known as Philhealth will have to ensure the automatic eligibility and membership of all Filipinos regardless of social and  economic standing; a greater service for our less privileged families and individual. 

The Fight for Universal Healthcare

This new law is not just an achievement of the legislative and executive body, but this is a great achievement of all Filipinos who have long been hoping for this initiative.

Just imagine how could Western countries able to give Universal Healthcare to its citizens that have started several years or decades back and why couldn't our country do the same? This has been a puzzle to me and perhaps to other Filipino who had a glimpse of the Healthcare status in a foreign country. 

Now our time has come, but the implementing rules and regulation of the new law is yet to be laid and we have to be aware of the Healthcare coverage and how we can truly benefit from it. 

Benefits of the Universal Healthcare Law

What the Philhealth can guarantee is the basic Healthcare services to existing premium contributors, indirect contributors or the indigents like our Senior Citizens and Persons with Disability and the non-indigent or non-premium contributor. That would mea free consultation, laborary tests and diagnostic tests are among the basic services covered to everyone. Almost all scope of health is covered including preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care which gives holistic health and wellness to everyone. 

Sustainable Healthcare development 

Although we welcome the great Healthcare measures, we are yet to experience how it will be delivered. The funding source has been determined and the implementation of this new law will be gradual considering that the funding will be coming from a pool of different agency funds. 

The new law is very promising, however we would like also to see its greater success and development from now and in years to come and not to be exploited and mismanaged by our people in Healthcare authority. 

Issues in the Philippine Health Insurance

Our National Health Insurance Company, the Philhealth and private Health Management Organizations (HMO) has been delivering its healthcare services in partnership with our Healthcare institutions; hospitals, clinics, health centers nationwide. They have always been to the rescue whenever we seek medical help, however their insurance coverage is not comprehensive as they do not cover all health conditions and other health services and this has been a challenge for those who couldn't afford or having financial difficulty at the time of seeking medical attention. 

When I was working at The Medical City in Iloilo, I have already learned about issues like non-payment or delay of payment of Philhealth for hospital claims to several member hospitals in the country. This would also cause for delay in the hospitals to pay their medical providers and this has led to another issue that some medical providers would charge their clients an additional cash payment for professional fee which is already covered by Philhealth. This issue happened to my sister and she asserted her rights against the double charging of her provider.  This scenario would lose the confidence of other Philhealth members if such case happens to them which is against the primary goal of Philhealth on its mandate to lessen the financial burden of Filipinos upon seeking medical treatment. 

Continuous Healthcare reform 

The Universal Healthcare law is a good start in providing Healthcare access to All Filipinos; a measure that no one will be excluded and left behind in Healthcare services due to poor economic status. 

However, challenges in Government and corporate social service is still something that Filipinos must all fight to be able to achieve a better healthcare for all. 

For the Philhealth, may the agency uphold good governance and continue to update their policies and coverage to package benefits that are not selective to particular medical condition. This a burden to the Filipino people because we do not choose the kind of disease once it strikes - - just to be covered by our insurance provider. We do not choose when to get sick and when to get treated. We do not choose the end of our physical suffering and the end of our life. 

We do not have control on our health crisis, but we can do something for its promotion and prevention so we will not suffer and pay for its consequence. We have to take good care of our health so we will be spared from illnesses and diseases. Though it is inevitable, we can help ourselves, our families and communities by choosing healthy lifestyle that is away from too much stress and vices so we can achieve health and longevity leading to a productive citizen that we can be.

As we continue to contribute towards nation-building, we have to be respectfully assertive of our healthcare bill of rights and at the same time be supportive of our Government's mandate in providing better healthcare to All Filipinos so we can achieve wellness and so we can live our greatest life.

© 2019 Del Cusay



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Social Commentary: The Voice of the Filipino Farmers


The Philippine Agriculture was once a very promising sector in its excellence in providing sufficient agricultural products to every Filipinos through active and strategic partnership between our farmers and the Government. We were an agricultural leader in Asia back then and our Agricultural Scientists used to share their expertise in rice farming to other Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand.

I remember back in the late 80's when we used to play by throwing muds in the newly plowed rice field just after the harvest season; the time when rice farming was the major source of livelihood of most families in our town. Whenever we visit other barangays from the town center, we get to breathe in fresher air passing through the green field of newly planted rice during the planting season, while during dry season just before the harvest in March or April, the field turns into a beautiful golden brown grains of rice.

Those were the days when rice farming was a robust industry and highly profitable for both rice farmers and traders who are in the business of buying and selling rice. Those were also the busy days for my parents on making a living as a rice trader in our town for about 2 decades.

As a kid, it was hard to compete for attention with our parents on some busy days when they buy hundreds of sacks of rice from our local farmers, but that was also a good time for play whenever it is already stacked in our warehouse; the kind of play that some kids of today may not relate. Those were the past and one of the happiest moments worth remembering.

Challenges in the Agriculture 

Starting the new millennium several challenges emerged in our Agricultural sector most especially in the rice industry. There were corruption issues with the Agriculture Department and the National Food Authority; a Government agency that regulates and maintains sufficient rice supplies for the staple food of Filipinos. Other issues include lack of government support for farming machineries like pre and post harvest facilities, conversion of agricultural land to residential or industrial, and the low trade price of rice produce from the farmers due to the proliferation of rice cartels.

Just in the recent years our Government faced even more challenges like increasing price of commercial rice due to artificial low supply against its high demand to feed millions of Filipinos. With the lack of agricultural facilities, we are not able to produce the best quality and quantity of rice leading to lesser productivity and profitability of our rice farmers

The Rice Tarrification Law

Fast forward in 2019, just recently on February 15 when Rice Tarrification Bill was enacted into law with a measure to deregulate rice importation of private businessmen and individuals from countries like Thailand and Vietnam. The law also made some restrictions on the power of NFA for regulation and importation of rice, and they will just maintain enough stocks of rice for calamities. One of the best promises included on the revised law is the annual 110 billion peso Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund for a 6-year period and will be assessed whether to continue or revise the measure. The RCEF is a common fund that will come from the rice import taxes that is said to be given to farmers in order to address the existing challenges in rice production like the purchase of farm machineries, to provide credit or loan service to farmers and for skills development in farming.

The effect to our rice farmers

This new law seems a short term goal to address the current inflation when our poor families couldn't even afford to buy expensive rice. However, this could also affect our local rice farmers when they could not sell their produce at a good price making them helpless and leaving no choice but to continue rice farming as a means of livelihood.

The flooding of cheaper commercial rice in the market will be beneficial for the Filipino consumers in general, however the promises on the newly enacted law would not be as promising as it seems. We could not forget the alleged agricultural scams like the fertilizer fund scam, diversion of agricultural funds to fake NGOs and the present day 'bukbok' rice or the insect infested imported rice despite of its lower price. Could this new law be another form of curruption in the making?

If there's an existing curruption in the Agricultural sector which remain to be a culture, the new law shouldn't be at the expense of our local farmers. Although we can give the new law a chance for the benefits it could give, still I feel for the unheard voices of our farmers. I am a son of a rice farmer and I have seen the hardship of our farmers who sweat it out under the sun and even through the rain to give us a staple food to eat on our table. Our farmers deserve to have a better life through the full support of our government from laws and programs that would help improve their greatest source of livelihood.

We do not want to see one day that our farmlands that are previously owned by an ordinary farmers will become a gated community or townhouse owned by an oligarch. We do not want to see our country losing agricultural scientists who preferred to work abroad for a greener pasteur. We do not want to see our future children losing interest in agricultural studies and activities. And we do not want to see our farmers dying because even them don't have something to eat because the government killed the rice farming industry.


As I go back home in our hometown, another townhouse that is previously a farmland might be rising and another hectare for private houses along the road are built. This happens when farmers sell their land to real estate developers for residential or industrial development.

In few years time our next generation might not be able to enjoy the greenfield and the golden brown rice harvest that we used to enjoy. Those years of pure happiness away from modernity and technology that the present time have embraced. In few years time, we will gradually be shifting from agricultural to industrial and the vast farmland and lush greeneries will just be a thing of the past.

Let us help save our Agricultural sector by hearing the voices of our farmers who are the source and major producer of our food on the table. Let us patronize local produce and learn to appreciate and embrace agriculture in our modern way of living and so we can help our farmers thrive and live a decent and comfortable life they deserve.

© 2019 Del Cusay



Thursday, February 14, 2019

Heart's Desire: Evolution of Love



To love someone and be loved in return must be a source of joy most especially when we are suffering from emotional setbacks like loneliness, apathy and grief. There are times when some  people struggle to find the real meaning of love when they feel lost and empty.

However, love has different meaning to individuals. For the orphan, a warm hug gives them a feeling of acceptance and security. For the single parent and a widow, raising their kids well gives them sense of dignity and pride. For the elderly, they get the highest respect from the young ones. These are the positive emotions where love wins.

In today's society we also have the victims of circumstances that made them view love differently. For the homeless, they feel less secured and abandoned. For the rebel groups, they may feel deprived of equal rights and opportunities. And for the sick and dying, they may feel unfulfilled, uncared and unloved.

Love has several meanings as we go through the stages in life. When we were a kid, we feel so much love from our parents. As we go through teenage years, we feel the acceptance and love of our peers. When we are now working and serving people, we feel the love for our countrymen and the nation. That is how love evolves in time. 

Following Our Heart's Desire  is a reminder to chase for our most coveted goals to achieve and to keep going on when life seem to be challenging in the achievement of our most cherished hopes and dreams. That may be the stage in life when we have all the energy and hopeful desires for success.

Heart's Desire: Living A Fantastic Life is service beyond self. It's about experiencing bliss; a higher level of happiness that is Divinely inspired. When we reach out to other people though public service, we give part of our Divinity inherent of a human being. Then we go beyond our selfish desires which is all about us; our ego.

Heart's Desire: Living A Humanitarian Life is a realization of a higher level of love when we go beyond our love for self and love for our family. It is about humanitarian service though charity work or public service that gives us the opportunity to serve both the privileged and the underprivileged sectors in the society.

Evolution of love may be beyond life on earth as we may believe in 'life after death' and may continue to guide the love ones who are still fighting for love; the meaning of love and their own evolution of love.

© 2019 Del Cusay




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