CSOs: ‘Universal health care is one of the pillars of a good pandemic response’
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2020
Social Watch Philippines
Alternative Budget Initiative Health Cluster
Philhealth was recently put in the hot seat when it publicly cited a provision in the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law of a three percent (3%) premium hike for all direct contributors, which includes Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). According to the law’s guidelines, 2020 will be a transitory period, while the full implementation of the hike will take place in 2021. Given the unfortunate timing of the announcement, with hundreds of thousands of workers now displaced from their jobs due to the pandemic, a public backlash in the media ensued, especially from OFWs. Despite President Duterte’s instruction to Philhealth to temporarily suspend the ill-timed hike in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the attacks in media against the Universal Health Care (UHC) law in its entirety continued, placing the UHC law in a bad light.
“We call for strengthening UHC by ensuring equity and maximum benefit for all Filipinos to cope with and tide over the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic”, Social Watch Philippines (SWP), through the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI-Health Cluster), a network of civil society organizations (CSOs) said. SWP-ABI Health believes that there is a need for the public to better understand the UHC law and its potential benefits for the Filipino people, including OFWs
More LGUs are heeding call for universal approaches to social support measures, says SocialWatch Philippines
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2020
Leaving no one behind is a hallmark of the universal approaches to the delivery of social protection measures. “We commend some local chief executives (LCEs) and their city and municipal councils for providing more universal social protection coverage to their constituents. Coming up with supplemental budgets to finance these initiatives show political will”, Social Watch Philippines (SWP) said in a statement.
Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was the first to express concern about the fact that around 113,000 families will be excluded from #SocialAmeliorationProgram (SAP) benefits and that this would cause social unrest among his constituents. He announced that the Pasig LGU will come up with a supplemental budget of ₱1.5 billion to cover the cash assistance gap. While this will not match the ₱16,000 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to cover two months, the Pasig City government will study its cash position, cancel certain activities/projects and realign its budget in order to provide a one-time handout of ₱8,000
“It’s time for more universal approaches”, Social Watch Philippines tells government on social measures
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2020
“During this time of great insecurity and humanitarian crisis, the government should explore more universal approaches in the delivery of social protection measures,” says Social Watch Philippines (SWP) “not as an act of charity but as a matter of rights and entitlement.”
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19 #COVID19PH) outbreak has intensified poverty levels, already widespread in the country considering that the informally employed make up over 80 percent of Filipino workers. “Now is not the time to fine-tune the criteria of who is deserving of government aid and who is not. During this period of intensified and widespread poverty, they are all deserving”, observed Dr. Ma. Victoria Raquiza, SWP Co-Convenor.
According to a policy paper of SWP, the #SocialAmeliorationProgram (SAP) as currently designed may be too slow and bureaucratic. The Duterte administration is saddled with a targeting system that tends to be messy and administratively complicated as there are several lists of beneficiaries across key agencies involved with the distribution of social support measures. This has caused social protection systems to be fragmented, administratively complicated and less efficient.
Filipino Sign Language crucial for the Deaf in battling COVID-19, civil society groups say
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) and FSL ACcess Team for Covid-19 (FSLACT4COVID19) appeal for the government to intensify its information drive against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. “Deaf people have the same need for access to timely public information as with the generic public, but are clearly being left behind during these trying times”, SWP and FSLACT4COVID19 said in a statement.
The government disseminates statements, announcements, and updates on COVID-19 initiatives on a daily basis through press briefings, news releases, videos, and infographics. But the deaf find them either difficult to understand or visually inaccessible.
The result of being left out in the course of calamities like the COVID-19 debacle puts the lives of the deaf, their families and the society in danger, amidst the enhanced community quarantine. “Deaf persons become empowered to protect themselves and their communities only if the information is understandable to them,” SWP argued.
“Without volunteer Filipino Sign Language interpreters, coping with the outbreak would have been even harder for them to bear. Sign language interpreters, shorthanded as they are, are also in a tough spot keeping up with the day-to-day circumstances of their own”, FSLACT4COVID19 added.
SOCIAL WATCH PHILIPPINES POSITION PAPER
A Proposal to Simplify and Fast-Track the Social Amelioration Program and Other Social Protection Measures
SOCIALWATCH PHILS·MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020
We are a network of civil society and community-based organizations that has consistently advocated for people-centered sustainable development.
We acknowledge and appreciate the hard work of the government, civic groups and other stakeholders, especially the front-liners, who are doing their best to serve our people in spite of the physical and mental dangers posed by the #COVID19PH crisis, and the constraints on various fronts.
We note the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on grassroots communities. There is a pressing need to equalize life’s opportunities and conditions for all, not as an act of charity but as matter of rights and entitlement. We are concerned about the growing lack of food and other essential needs among the most vulnerable – especially the informally employed who comprise over 80 percent of Filipino workers - who now have lost their sources of incomes due to the pandemic and enhanced quarantine. The delayed delivery of public assistance is raising the level of frustration among the impoverished communities.
Social Watch has made its statement on how the Philippines could end poverty and achieve sustainable development through its Spotlight Report three years ago. The report wanted to change everything—from a proposed vision of prosperity without growth, to changing the strategy and indicators.
Many good things are happening within society as a whole. But there is really need to engage government more not only to make a “whole government approach” but a “whole of society approach” to work towards bringing us closer to our dream of fairness in a fragile world.
Towards Coherent Policies for Sustainable Development
Social Watch Philippines (SWP) turn over 200,000 signatures to Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito in support of the passage of the Universal Health Care bill and Tobacco Tax Increase bill on Thursday, September 20 during a Manila Youth Leader’s Assembly held at Polytechnic University of the Philippines Sta Mesa.