Category Archives: PCIJ

Rx for health: Not just money
or dole-outs but real reforms

IN HIS message that accompanies the proposed government budget for next year, President Benigno C. Aquino III notes that the allocation for health is 13.6 percent higher than 2010’s P29.3 billion (According to the 2010 General Appropriations Act though, only P28.7 billion was allocated to the Health Department).

Yet if one were to compare health’s share of the budget for this year and what the corresponding figure could be in the next, the difference isn’t much.

For 2010, the health allocation is 1.8 percent of the P1.54-trillion national purse. For 2011, the Aquino administration is proposing P32.62 billion for health –as indicated in the proposed National Expenditure Program — which is 1.9 percent of the P1.64-trillion national budget. The increase in terms of share in the total budget then would amount to just a tenth of a percentage point.

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RP far behind goals to lift
plight of children, mothers

IT WILL be his first official trip overseas as the country’s chief executive, but President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has little reason to look forward to his upcoming visit to the United States.

On September 20, Aquino will be at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is expected to present just how far the Philippines has achieved progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Unfortunately, in large measure because of the shortcomings of his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is bound to acknowledge before other world leaders that the country is falling short of several of these targets.

In September 2000, the Philippines and 188 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and committed themselves to achieving a set of eight goals by 2015. These goals – the MDGs – have since been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress for both rich and poor countries.

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Rx for next president: Rescue
mothers, assure healthcare

WHOEVER will be elected president might have to hurdle among many others, two big tasks in the area of healthcare – rescuing mothers from the throes of death at childbirth, and providing universal healthcare protection to all 90 million Filipinos.

These tasks may seem “mission impossible” projects all at once but are, according to former health secretary Alberto Romualdez, not exactly beyond solution.

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Making sure Mama makes it

VALLEHERMOSO, CARMEN, BOHOL — Had she been in the same situation eight years ago, Jesusa Panes would have probably just given birth at home, even without her husband in sight, and even if her neighbor the hilot (traditional birthing attendant) happened to be drunk. But things have not been the same for expectant mothers in this town since 2002, and so when the child in her belly starting demanding to be let out, Panes began trudging toward the birthing center that was several minutes away by foot from her home.

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Naga City’s class act

NAGA CITY, CAMARINES SUR — If one were to put local governments in a classroom setting, the executive body of this thriving city southwest of Metro Manila would be the overachieving nerd, the one guaranteed to garner the most medals at the end of each term.

So when Naga City received a failing grade in one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — achieving universal primary education — local officials characteristically lost no time in dreaming up a program aimed at improving its score. It’s a situation made even more challenging by the city’s demographics: one out of every three Nagueño is of school age. But as Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo put it, “We need to address the continuing inability of our school system to ensure that no child is left behind.”

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A school board makeover

NAGA CITY’S successes in its poverty alleviation efforts no doubt allowed it to focus its resources on improving access to basic services like education. But all its education reform efforts could not have been possible without its reinvention of the local school board.

The transformation began in 2001, when the MDGs were largely unheard of and a national government directive for the goals to be localized and included in development planning processes was yet forthcoming. But Naga’s decision then to revamp the school board’s orientation and organizational structure later put the city in a better position to address the gaps in achieving the MDG targets in education.

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Video: Birth Pangs

GIVING birth is no easy task. In fact, some say that it’s the greatest pain a woman will ever experience. Hence the truism that once a woman gets pregnant, one foot is already in the grave.

What is true is that far too many women in the Philippines still die from complications related to their pregnancies.

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‘Ghost teachers,’ phantom schools
haunt education reforms in ARMM

LAWYER FRANCES Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi talks to distraught “dead” teachers all the time, but she makes it a point to crack jokes when they call her on her cell phone at night.

“I appeal to them, please don’t call me at night,” she says. “I’m afraid of you, you’re already dead.”

Guiani-Sayadi is the Solicitor General of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). She has been given the horrendous task of putting order to the chaotic records of teaching personnel in the ARMM.

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