Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr. discussed the salient points of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Talk-to-the-People Address on October 19, where the Chief Executive addressed issues related to the rehabilitation of Marawi, corruption, the drug war, among others.
Among the issues discussed by the Chief Executive was the promise to settle the obligation to be paid by the Philippine Heath Corporation (PhilHealth) to the Philippine Red Cross.
“It’s a matter of accounting. Ang PhilHealth po paulit-ulit kong sinasabi hindi po yan mauubusan ng pondo dahil under Universal Health Care sagot po ng gobyerno ang viability ng PhilHealth,” said Secretary Roque during a press briefing in Malacañang on October 20.
On the rehabilitation of Marawi, the President last night promised to bring back the Islamic City to its previous glory. Accordingly, a statement from Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said that the Marawi rehabilitation is on track.
According to Sec. Del Rosario, the construction of many public horizontal and vertical infrastructures are continuous in areas identified as most affected. These infrastructure projects include road networks, public market, public schools, barangay halls, fire station, marine outpost, tourist police unit, a peace memorial, a school of living tradition, the Marawi museum, and mosques.
On the government’s COVID-19 response, Sec. Roque said that President Duterte was pleased with the improvements in the government’s COVID-19 response and thanked everyone for their hard work and contribution.
The President in his talk once more underscored his stand on corruption. “Muling inulit ni Presidente Duterte na hindi niya papayagan ang korapsyon sa pamahalaan o tumatanggap ng pabor sa mga tao. Binigyan diin ng Pangulo, walang areglo, walang pabor-pabor,” said Sec. Roque.
On the country’s drug problem, the President said that two out of 100 Filipinos still use prohibited drugs. “Ayon sa Dangerous Drugs Board, meron na pong 1.67 million, base sa 2019 National Household Survey on the Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse. Yan pong 1.67 million ay diumano gumagamit ng ipinagbabawal na droga,” Roque said.
In the same press briefing, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced that there will be no exception and no deferment in the payment of 13th month pay of employees. For micro and small enterprises (MSEs) that may not have enough funds to pay for the 13th month pay of employees, Secretary Bello discussed several options.
One of these is for the government to possibly subsidize MSEs’ 13th month pay budget if the government has available standby funds or savings. Another one is the offer from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for MSEs to avail of soft loans from the Small Business Corporation, a government financial institution attached to the DTI. Sec. Bello said that the Small Business Corporation can allot P4-billion out of its P10-billion budget for soft loans for MSEs.
Bello likewise disclosed that all rural bankers in the Philippines are willing to provide soft loans for MSEs for the payments of the 13th month pay of their employees.
On another matter, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that the NDRRMC has been conducting pre-disaster risk assessment meetings and preparedness measures because of the ongoing La Niña, as well as for tropical depression Ofel and current tropical storm Pepito.
Usec. Jalad also reported that tropical depression Ofel has so far affected some 5,844 families or around 26,000 individuals in 95 barangays in CALABARZON, Region 5 and Region 7, with an initial cost damage estimate of P1.3-million. ### OPS-PCOO