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10 - 23

About 15 years ago when I first worked on my passport application, I got overwhelmed with all the documents and IDs I needed to prepare.  I thought to myself, if this is how complicated the process is, how can senior citizens, PWDs, and other citizens with special needs and cases manage to get everything done.

A lot has changed since the first time I applied for a passport (and have only been renewing my passport ever since.  Passport renewals are simpler than applying for the first time).  And now that I have been given the facility to help and reach out to others, I decided to come up with a quick guide on the general requirements, fees, and turn-around-time for the applicants to receive their passports.

Save this article in your bookmarks to serve as your ready reference when you or a family member, friend, or even a total stranger asks for the basics when applying for a Philippine passport.

Read on!

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

  1. Personal appearance of applicant.
  2. Confirmed appointment.  You may set an appointment at www.passport.gov.ph/appointment
  3. Accomplished application form.  You may download a copy at www.dfa.gov.ph
  4. PSA-issued Birth Certificate.  You may order for a copy of your PSA documents at www.psahelpline.ph
  5. Government-issued picture ID with photocopy.
  6. Supporting documents and IDs.  You may check the list of acceptable documents and IDs here: http://dfa.gov.ph/images/OCA/Forms/RequirementsForPassportApplication.pdf

FEES AND PROCESSING TIME

  1. Express processing fee – P1,200

Ideal processing time is:

    • 7 working days for Metro Manila applicants
    • 10 working days outside Metro Manila.
    • The stated processing period does not include the delivery time.

     2. Regular processing fee – P950

Processing time is:

  • 20 working days for Metro Manila applicants
  • 30 working days outside Metro Manila.
  • The stated processing period does not include the delivery time.

VALID IDs

The DFA accepts any one of the following:

  1. Digitized SSS ID
  2. Driver’s License
  3. GSIS E-card
  4. PRC ID
  5. IBP ID
  6. OWWA ID
  7. Digitized BIR ID
  8. Senior Citizen’s ID
  9. Unified Multi-purpose ID (UMID)
  10. Voter’s ID
  11. Old College ID
  12. Alumni ID
  13. Employment ID

FOR APPLICANTS WHO DO NOT HAVE ANY BIRTH RECORD

  1. If born in or after January 1, 1950:
    • All general requirements listed above.
    • Apply for the delayed registration of birth at the local civil registry office at the applicant’s place of birth.
    • Submit the following documents:
  2. Born in or before December 31, 1949:
    • All general requirements as listed above.
    • Certificate of Non-availability of Record from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
    • Notarized Joint Birth Affidavit of Two Disinterested Persons.
    • Any public document with the correct full name, and date and place of birth such as:
      • Baptismal certificate with readable dry seal.
      • National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Certificate with photo and readable dry seal (for Muslim applicants).

FOR APPLICANTS WHO HAVE BEEN NATURALIZED

  1. All general requirements as listed above.
  2. Identification Certificate of Naturalization
  3. Oath of Allegiance.

Note that the DFA may require additional documents and IDs, especially if the applicant is a minor, adopted, traveling without his parents, and many other cases involving legitimacy, age, and physical condition of the minor or the traveler.  It would be best to be ready with the above documents as these are the basic requirements when applying for a passport.  Preparing these in advance will help you save time, effort, and money.

For more information on passport application, you may visit the DFA’s website at www.dfa.gov.ph

Reference:

www.dfa.gov.ph

 

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10 - 17

As part of Taiwan’s goodwill to the Filipinos and in observance of their “New Southbound Policy”, Pinoys may now visit and tour Taiwan for 14 days, without a visa!

In October of 2016, we released an article on the conditions that Pinoy tourists must meet in order to enjoy a visa-free entry to Taiwan.  Back then, you must have a valid visa to Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries before you are granted free entry to Taiwan.  With this new policy, Pinoys can do away without the above requirements and enjoy hassle-free vacations to the country.

Below are the details of the good news released just yesterday by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines.

  1. Pinoys who intend to visit Taiwan for purposes of tourism, business, or visiting relatives can enjoy visa-free entry for 14 days, beginning November 1, 2017.
  2. This initiative will undergo a nine-month trial period that will last until July 31, 2018.
  3. Pinoy visitors must have at least six months remaining validity in their passports, while diplomatic and official passport holders are not eligible for visa-free treatment.
  4. A return ticket or a ticket with visa if needed for the next destination must be presented upon entry.
  5. Tourist must have no criminal records in Taiwan.
  6. Tourist must be able to show proof of accommodation while in the country.

Exemptions:

Those who intend to stay for more than 14 days to study, work, or are part of missionary activities are required to obtain the necessary visas before entering Taiwan.

Now is your chance to explore the sights and sounds of Taiwan!  Remember that the policy takes effect on November 1, so plan your trip accordingly.

Enjoy your vacation!

 

References:

www.philstar.com

www.roc-taiwan.org

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10 - 16

What is the No Balance Billing?

No Balance Billing or NBB is a privilege given to qualified PhilHealth members.  If you are covered by the NBB policy, you no longer need to pay for your hospitalization at any government hospital and selected private medical centers nationwide.  It is the government that pays for the member’s hospital expenses without prejudice to the quality of service and attention given to the patient.

Who are covered by the NBB Policy?

  • Indigent members
  • Sponsored members
  • Kasambahay members
  • Lifetime members
  • Senior Citizens

What services and benefits are covered by the NBB Policy?

All services and benefits afforded to other PhilHealth members are likewise extended to those under the NBB policy, such as:

  • All case rates
  • Case Type Z benefits
  • TB-DOTS package
  • Outpatient Malaria Package
  • Animal Bite Treatment Package
  • Voluntary Surgical Contraception Package
  • Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment (OHAT) Package

Which packages can be availed through NBB at both private and public hospitals?

NBB is currently offered at the following medical facilities:

Type of Facility Government

Hospital

Private

Hospital

Benefits Covered by NBB
Hospital Yes No All applicable benefits covered by NBB for hospitals.
Malaria – outpatient case Yes No Outpatient Malaria Package
Animal Bite Treatment Centers Yes No Animal Bite Treatment Package
Treatment Hubs Yes No Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment Package
Hospitals that offer Z Benefits Package Yes Yes Z Benefits Packages
Ambulatory Surgical Clinics Yes Yes All applicable benefits covered by the NBB, such as:

·         Cataract extraction

·         Bilateral Tubal Ligation

·         Vasectomy

Freestanding Dialysis Clinics Yes Yes Dialysis Package
Peritoneal Dialysis Center Yes Yes Peritoneal Dialysis
TB-DOTS Centers Yes Yes TB-DOTS Package
Lying-in Clinics (Maternity Cases) Yes Yes ·         Maternity Care Package

·         Antenatal Care

·         Normal Spontaneous Delivery

·         Newborn Care Package

·         Family Planning Procedures

Facilities for Primary Care Benefits Yes Yes ·         Primary Care Benefits

·         Family Planning

·         Procedures

Infirmaries / Dispensaries Yes Yes Public Infirmaries:

All applicable benefits covered by the NBB, including vasectomy.

 

Private Infirmaries:

·         Maternity Care Package

·         Antenatal Care

·         Normal Spontaneous Delivery

·         Newborn Care Package.

Will NBB be applied to a patient who is admitted on a private bed?

NBB is applicable only to service beds or PhilHealth beds?  If no service bed is available the time of admission, NBB can still be applied as long as the hospital guarantees that there are no service beds available.

Does the NBB Policy cover doctors’ professional fees?

Yes, that’s why doctors are not supposed to bill patients under the NBB policy; however, if the patient is admitted to a private room, doctor’s fees will still apply.

What if the hospital could not provide the needed medicines, laboratory, and diagnostic tests and the patient is compelled to transfer to a different facility?

It is the government hospital’s obligation to ensure that they have ample stocks of medicines, especially for NBB patients.

In case they are not able to provide the needed laboratory or diagnostic tests, they shall be held responsible and will have to make sure that the NBB patient is given the needed medicines and tests at their expense.

For more information on the No Balance Billing Policy, you may call the PhilHealth hotline at 02-441-7442.  They are able to take your calls, 24×7.

Source: www.philhealth.gov.ph

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10 - 13

This year, we had two Fridays that fell on the 13th day of the month – once in January and the last one today, October 13th.  And once again, social media sites are peppered with trivia and memes about this supposedly unlucky day.

So why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky in most countries?  Although there are no written evidences to prove that this day is indeed wretched, the date has long been connected to unfavorable events in history.  So to quell our curiosity, we did a short research to find out how this day became so popularly unpopular.  We hope you’ll like today’s feature on what is believed to be the unluckiest day of the year.

Biblical History

If we trace back to biblical traditions, we will remember that there were 13 guests who attended the Last Supper: Jesus and His 12 disciples.  The dinner was held on Maundy Thursday, and on the following day, a Friday, Jesus was crucified.

It is believed that this started one of the most common superstitions related to the number 13: that it is bad luck to have 13 guests eating at a table.

Historical Events

Friday the 13th could not be tackled without remembering the events on October 13, 1307 – yes, a Friday.  It was on this day when hundreds of Knights Templar were arrested and burnt across France.  The Knights were a powerful religious and military order formed in the 12th century for the defense of the Holy Land.

Bad Luck Friday and Unlucky 13

  1. In traditional decks of Tarot Cards, the 13th card bears a skeleton with a sickle. Numerologists consider the number 13 as a symbol of fear and disorder.
  2. Modern skyscrapers do not have a 13th floor, going straight from 12 to 14. Airlines also avoid the number for seat rows and arrival gates.
  3. Weddings, drafting of contracts, business launching, trips, and other important events are usually planned to avoid the 13 day of the month, especially if the date falls on a Friday.

General Superstitions

  1. Contrary to popular belief, it is lucky to meet a black cat on Friday the 13th.
  2. It is lucky to touch wood if you want to make something come true.  “Knock on wood!”
  3. It is lucky to find a clover plant with four leaves.
  4. A horseshoe over the door brings good luck.  It just needs to be the right way up, making a U sign on the door or wall.  Luck runs out of the horseshoe if it is upside down.

Bad Luck

  1. It is unlucky to walk underneath a ladder.
  2. Seven years of bad luck awaits anyone who breaks a mirror.
  3. It is unlucky to see one magpie; lucky to see two.
  4. It is unlucky to spill salt.  If you do, you must throw it over your shoulder to counteract the bad luck.
  5. Unlucky to open an umbrella indoors.

Do you believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day?  What specific superstitious beliefs do you still observe until today?

Reference: www.wikipedia.com

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10 - 11

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacterial infection, usually affecting the lungs.  The bacteria is highly contagious and can be passed on to others through coughing and sneezing, even through the accidental spread of saliva when laughing, singing, and spitting.  In 2012, it was reported to be the 6th leading cause of death with about 200,000 to 600,000 Filipinos having the bacteria in its active state in their system.

In spite of these seemingly bad news about the said disease, TB can be cured through effective anti-tuberculosis drugs, made available through national and local government health centers.  These are likewise made more affordable even when bought from private hospitals and pharmacies through the Generic Law.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth offers the Tuberculosis – Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (TB-DOTS) Benefit Package, worth P4,000, for members diagnosed with the disease.

Below is a summary of the package’s inclusions and how a Philhealth member can avail of the program.

Package Inclusions:

  • Consultation
  • Diagnostic Exams
  • Information and advice on the patient’s health and treatment progress
  • Medicines

The TB-DOTS package is available to all PhilHealth members and their qualified dependents who are likewise suffering from TB and requiring medical attention.  All they need to do is visit the nearest PhilHealth accredited TB-DOTS center in their area; you may ask for information on center locations in your barangay hall.

TB, although highly communicable, can now be easily cured with the right kind of medications.  Regular visits to your doctor will also help you determine how your system is responding to treatment.  To ensure that you get the proper treatment, visit the nearest Philhealth-accredited medical center in your area.

Source: www.philhealth.gov.ph

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10 - 09

What are the benefits that OFWs can enjoy as bona fide PhilHealth members?  Are their dependents entitled to the same benefits as well?

Below are the latest case rates applicable to OFW members.  The amount stated in this summary is PhilHealth’s participation in the member’s hospital and medical expenses.  Any amount over the stated coverage will be shouldered by the member or by his Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

1. Examples of Case Rates

ILLNESS AMOUNT OF BENEFIT
Pneumonia Moderate Risk (Pulmonya) P15,000
Pneumonia High Risk P32,000
Stroke – Infarction P28,000
Stroke – Hemorrhagic or Stroke with Bleeding P38,000
Hypertensive Emergency/Urgency P9,000
Dengue (Severe) P16,000
Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) or Diarrhea with Dehydration P6,000
Asthma in Acute Exacerbation (Hika) P9,000
Newborn Care Package or Services for Newborn Babies P1,750
SURGERIES AMOUNT OF BENEFIT
Hemodialysis P4,000
Maternity Care Package (Normal delivery in lying-in clinics) P8,000
Normal Spontaneous Delivery Package (Normal delivery in a hospital) P6,500
Cesarean Section P19,000
Radiotherapy Linear Accelerator (Linac) P3,000
Cataract Package P16,000
Dilatation and Curettage (Raspa) P11,000
Cholecystectomy P31,000
Appendectomy P24,000

1.1 Z Benefits

These types of packages are for those stricken by diseases that need long and continuous medication.  These normally entail costs beyond one’s usual hospitalization budget.  Z Benefit packages have pre-conditions and selection criteria that need to be met in order to qualify for the benefits at selected government hospitals.

ILLNESS / SURGERY AMOUNT OF BENEFIT
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL P210,000
Breast Cancer (Stage 0 to 3) P100,000
Prostate Cancer (Low to Intermediate Risk) P100,000
Kidney Transplant (Low Risk) P600,000
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery P550,000
Surgery of Tetralogy of Fallot in Children P320,000
Surgery for Ventricular Septal Defect in Children P250,000
Cervical Cancer Chemoradiation with Cobalt and Brachytherapy (Low Dose)

Linear Accelerator and Brachytherapy (High Dose)

P120,000

P175,000

External Lower Limb Prostheses P15,000

1.2 Outpatient Benefits under All Case Rates

SERVICES AMOUNT OF BENEFIT
Tuberculosis – Directly Observed Treatment Short-course administered at accredited TB-DOTS centers P4,000
Malaria treatment administered at accredited rural health units. P600
Outpatient HIV/AIDS Treatment P30,000
Treatment package for animal bites administered at accredited government animal bite centers. P3,000
Vasectomy and Tubal Ligation P4,000

Important Reminder: A member is allotted 45 days of hospitalization in one year and another 45 days to be divided among his qualified dependents.

What are the conditions before an OFW member or dependent may avail of PhilHealth benefits?

  1. Updated contributions as shown in the member’s MDR.
  2. Make sure you are seeking consultation or treatment at a PhilHealth-accredited hospital and by a PhilHealth-accredited doctor.
  3. You have not yet used up the 45-day hospitalization period (OFW or dependents).

How does an OFW member and his dependents avail of PhilHealth benefits?

  1. Before checking out of the hospital, submit the following documents at the Billing Section of the hospital:
  • Duly accomplished PhilHealth Claim Form 1. You may request for a form at the hospital, PhilHealth offices and branches, or download from the PhilHealth website at philhealth.gov.ph
  • Health Insurance ID Card and or Updated Member Data Record (photocopies).
  • Proof of contributions (photocopies).
  1. Medicines purchased outside of the hospital while member is confined may be reimbursed at the hospital if the patient has not yet used up the allocated benefit amount. Make sure that PhilHealth benefits have been deducted from the total hospital bill and professional fees before signing the Claim Form 2.

What if the OFW member is confined in a hospital abroad?  Can he still use his PhilHealth benefits?

 A member confined abroad may file for benefits claim in the Philippines by submitting the following documents to any PhilHealth office, within 180 days after he has been discharged from the hospital abroad:

  1. Copy of Medical Certificate where the following are clearly stated:
    • Final diagnosis
    • Confinement period
    • Services rendered
  2. Duly accomplished PhilHealth Claim Form 1
  3. Copy of Official Receipt or detailed Statement of Account
  4. Updated Member Data Record or proof of payment.

For further information on OFW’s PhilHealth membership, claims, and benefits, you may call the PhilHealth call center at 02-441-7442.  They are available to take your calls, 24/7.

Source: www.philhealth.gov.ph

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10 - 06

Even while employed in a foreign country, Filipinos must be registered under the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth and pay their contributions regularly.  Medical emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere: to the OFW member or his dependents.  The only way you can fight against the added stress of going through these emergency cases is the security of a medical insurance.

In this 2-part series, we are going to share all the important details that OFWs need to know about becoming a Phillhealth member and the how they can keep their account updated even while they are out of the country.  From membership registration to availing benefits, we got all the information right here.

Share this with your OFW friends and relatives.

GET YOURSELF REGISTERED

  1. Fill out a PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) with your information. You may ask for a copy of the form from any Local Health Insurance Office (LHIO) or download it at www.philhealth.gov.ph. Submit the accomplished form to any PhilHealth office or at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)

Seafarers may submit their PMRF to their HR Department or to their manning agency.

OFWs may declare the following as their dependents:

  • Legal spouse who is not a PhilHealth member;
  • Children below 21 years old, unemployed, and not married;
  • Children who are 21 years old and above and are physically or mentally handicapped;
  • Foster children based on the Foster Child Care Act of 2012;
  • Parents who are 60 years old or older and are not PhilHealth members;
  • Parents who are permanently incapacitated/disabled.

A completely filled-out PMRF is all you need to register as a PhilHealth member.  No need for other documents unless PhilHealth requires further verification of your personal information.

  1. Pay your contributions regularly.
  2. The OFW member will be provided with a Health Insurance ID Card with his permanent PhilHealth Identification Number (PIN), and Member Data Record (MDR).

Online Registration Option

Since OFWs cannot physically visit PhilHealth offices in the Philippines, they have the option to submit their membership applications online or by sending an email to PhilHealth.  Here’s how:

For Membership Registration:

  1. Send your duly accomplished PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) to ofp@philhealth.gov.ph.
  2. PhilHealth will send your Member Data Record (MDR) with your PhilHealth identification number through email. You may also request for a Health Insurance ID Card from any Local Health Insurance Office (LHIO) of PhilHealth.

To Update your MDR:

  1. Send your duly accomplished PMRF with the corresponding updates on your information. Do not forget to tick the check box beside “FOR UPDATING” that is found at the upper part of the PMRF.
  2. You will receive a copy of your updated MDR through email.

PAY YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS!

How much should your contributions be?

1.For Migrant Workers (OFWs) (documented and undocumented):

Beginning January 2014, the premium contribution is Php 2,400.00 for a year.  You have the option to pay two years in advance or base it on the number of years stated in your employment contract, but must not exceed 5 years.

2. For Migrant Workers / OFWs (seafarers) who are under manning agencies in the Philippines:

Monthly Salary Range Total Monthly Premium Rate Employee Share Employer Share
Php8,999.99 and below Php200 Php100 Php100
Php9,000 up to Php34,999.00 2.5% 1.25% 1.25%
Php35,000.00 and up Php875.00 Php437.50 Php437.50

You also have the option to check the complete contribution schedule at www.philhealth.gov.ph

Where can you pay your contributions?

  • PhilHealth Local Health Insurance Offices (LHIOs)
  • POEA One-Stop-Shop
  • At the following PhilHealth Accredited Collecting Agents who have tie-ups abroad:
    • Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
    • Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB)
    • Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP)
    • I-Remit, Inc.
    • Ventaja International Corporation
    • Bank of Commerce
    • Asia United Bank
  • You may also request your family and relatives to  visit any PhilHealth office to pay for your contributions.

The second part of our feature article will focus on the benefits and services that every OFW PhilHealth member and their dependents are entitled to.

If you have further questions about PhilHealth membership, you may call their hotline at 02-441-7442.

Source: www.philhealth.gov.ph

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10 - 03

If you want to get updates on a loan or claim you filed at the SSS but do not have the means or time to call their hotline, you can text them instead!

The Text-SSS facility is now made available for SSS members on-the-go, allowing them to inquire about their contributions and claims status without having to call the SSS hotline.  We summarized the how-to’s and other interesting updates from this facility for everyone’s information.  If you have not tried this new service from the SSS yet, you can start today by registering your SS number using your mobile phone!

What is Text SSS?

Text-SSS facility is a text-based information service that allows a member to inquire about the number of his/her contributions, loan application status, loan balance, status of benefit claim, document requirements in filing benefit claim and membership registration, change in member record, SSS branch location and feedback on SSS concern through short messaging service (SMS)s.

How can a member register?

A member can register by creating a message using the format below and sending it to 2600.

Type: SSS REG <SSNumber> <BDAYmm/dd/yyyy> send to 2600

Upon successful registration, the system will send a text message informing the member of his/her unique system-generated Personal Identification Number (PIN), which will be required in inquiries sent to the Text-SSS facility (2600).

Service fee is P2.50 for Globe and Smart subscribers, P2.00 for SUN subscribers.

How can one inquire about his/her contributions, loan status, and loan balance?

To inquire:

On Contributions, type: SSS CONTRIB<SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

On Loan Status, type: SSS LOANSTAT<SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

On Loan Balance, type: SSS LOANBAL<SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

To retrieve PIN, type: SSS RESET<SSNUMBER><BDAYmm/dd/yyyy> send to 2600

Other services:

To know the different commands, key in: SSS HELP send to 2600

To send feedback: <SSnumber><concerns/inquiries/complaints> send to 2600

To know the nearest SSS branch: SSS BRANCH<city> or <postal code> send to 2600

To get requirements on SSS ID: SSS ID send to 2600

To get requirements for OFWs: SSS OFW send to 2600

To get requirements for voluntary member: SSS VOL send to 2600

To get requirements for self-employed: SSS SELF send to 2600

To get requirements for change in membership data: SSS CHANGE send to 2600

To check status of claim:

SSS STATUS Sickness <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS Maternity <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS Disability <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS ECMed <SSNumber><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS Retirement <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS Death <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

SSS STATUS Funeral <SSNUMBER><PIN> send to 2600

To inquire about documents required in filing benefit claims, key in:

SSS DOC Sickness send to 2600

SSS DOC Maternity send to 2600

SSS DOC ECMed send to 2600

SSS DOC Disability send to 2600

SSS DOC Death send to 2600

SSS DOC Funeral send to 2600

For retirement less than 65 years old, key in:

SSS DOC Retirement send to 2600

For retirement with minor dependent, key in:

SSS DOC Retirement Minor send to 2600

Sources:

www.sss.gov.ph

www.facebook.com/SSSPh

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09 - 29 (2)

There are over a thousand slang terms used to avoid saying the “M” word, especially when talking about it in public places.  Weed, pot, dope, Mary Jane, and jutes are just among the more popular terms used by young and old alike (depends on your generation).  Truth be told, it is never easy nor simple to be talking about something prohibited and, up to a certain extent, scandalous as marijuana and its use.  It is simply, especially in a predominantly Christian country such as ours, taboo.

Marijuana is the second most used drug in the Philippines, after shabu.  It is listed as prohibited by the Dangerous Drugs Board and has a detailed list of punishment for anyone caught importing, selling, manufacturing, cultivating, or merely having it in one’s possession.  Ironically, the plant is grown in various areas in the country, with locals claiming that it is basically part of their culture to cultivate and consume the plant to keep them from getting sick.

Interestingly, the House Committee has already approved the use of marijuana in our country for medicinal purposes.  Because while marijuana, or cannabis, is extremely addictive, it also has the ability to cure certain types of diseases.

The Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act

This rather controversial act will allow qualified patients to use cannabis (or marijuana) as a medicine.  To make it easier for us to understand this interesting piece of news, we summarized the details and listed them below, as lifted from the reports of CNN and statements from the House Committee that authored the bill:

  • The bill disallows marijuana to be administered in its raw form, as a plant, or as a hash which would be smoked.
  • It seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis, or marijuana, which is known to have therapeutic purposes in the treatment of chronic or debilitating medical conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Centers dedicated to cannabis’ medical use and sale will be established in hospitals. These will be licensed by the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.
  • The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will regulate the dispensation of medical marijuana in these hospitals.
  • Patients certified by physicians to qualify for the marijuana-based treatment will be issued identification cards, and doctors will be trained to specialize in the medical use of the drug.
  • The bill also plans to create a research facility dedicated to studying the controversial drug’s medical benefits.

The bill does not make the use of marijuana legal in the Philippines.  Anybody caught possessing or using marijuana, even for medical purposes, may be sentenced to years in jail.  The plant is still considered a dangerous drug and all the laws pertaining to its use is not decriminalized.

We are interested to know what you think of this news.  Comment your insights, reactions, and maybe even suggestions below.

Reference: cnnphilippines.com

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09 - 27

If you are fond of taking care of pets, or are in an area where dogs and cats freely roam the streets, you are at a higher risk of getting bitten by stray animals and exposed to the rabies virus.  Animal bites must be taken seriously because when left untreated, can cause irreversible infections and in worse cases, death.  According to the Department of Health, rabies is considered to be a neglected disease; it is 100% fatal yet also 100% preventable.  It is regarded as a significant public health problem.

One of the reasons why people neglect to see a doctor after they have been bitten by an animal is because they think the vaccines are expensive.  This is true especially if you intend to get the treatment from a private hospital.  In cases when the bite is almost superficial, nothing more than a scratch or a gash, people think it is nothing significant and therefore, can be passed off as just some wound that will heal on its own.

Exposure to rabies is a serious matter and all measures must be taken to arrest its spread in a person’s circulatory system.  It is for this reason that Philhealth has in its long list of care packages, the Animal Bite Treatment Package (ABTP) amounting to P3,000.  This provides additional financial assistance to members who have been exposed to rabies and needs to complete the series of vaccines to help fight the virus.

What are included in the ABTP?

The ABT package includes payments for Post Exposure Prophylaxis:

  • Rabies vaccine
  • Rabies immunoglobulins
  • Tetanus toxoid and anti-tetanus serum
  • Wound dressing
  • Supply of antibiotics

It covers the following animal type bites as well as the wound’s category, as recommended by the DOH:

  • Dog and cat bites, as well as cow, pig, horse, goat, bat, and monkey bites.
  • Category II exposure on the head and neck areas.  These are the bite types that resulted to superficial gashes and had minimal to no bleeding at all.
  • Category III
      • Bites that resulted to deep wounds or gashes that bled.
      • Exposure to a person infected by the rabies virus through bites, or contamination through mucus membranes such as the eyes, nose, mouse, or genitals.
      • Exposure to an animal’s carcass.
      • Ingestion of animal meat contaminated by the rabies virus.

Do not take animal bites for granted, whether among children or adults.  This could lead to serious physical and mental illnesses, and in most cases, death.  Infected individuals can also easily transfer the virus to other people.

For more information on the Philhealth’s Animal Bite Treatment Package (ABTP), you may call the Philhealth call center at 02-441-7442.

Reference: www.philhealth.gov.ph

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