POSTSCRIPT / December 29, 2015 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Presidency not all about criminality

DO WE break the law to enforce it? That is our first question to Davao Mayor Rody Duterte running for president in the May 2016 national elections. Bigger questions await him.

Like many citizens in constant fear of law-breakers, I like Duterte’s no-nonsense putting away for good, vigilante style, the scums of the earth.

But the question lingers: What if these suspected criminals are not really guilty beyond reasonable doubt? And what if some of them may be worth saving and reforming?

Who is the Duterte among us who would cast the first stone and make final arbitrary judgment about taking away another person’s God-given life?

Would the Executive under a Duterte regime take over the judgmental functions of the Judiciary?

Imperfect it may be, the law has attempted to minimize possible errors in determining guilt or innocence of an accused through a well-established due process. Do will now short-cut this to a Do-Dirty Process?

Are we ready to import from Davao City (pop. 1.45 million) this contradictory lawless style of law enforcement and impose it, bloody warts and all, on the 100 million-plus national population?

Those of us, me included, who cower at the least rustle of criminal presence in the neighborhood, may want to try the Duterte antidote, praying that the prescription is not worse than the deadly disease it purports to cure.

Seriously now, we have to ask these questions of and about Duterte – to demand of him to elaborate on what he plans to do in case he is elected PRESIDENT.

Note that last word. On Election Day, we will be looking for a PRESIDENT, not a vigilante ring leader. There is a big bloody difference.

What are Duterte ideas on big issues?

THOSE preliminary questions are just about criminality and due process – a small sphere in the universe of the presidency. There are other questions just as urgent and pertinent to the elections and national progress.

My interest in Mayor Duterte turned serious some two months ago when dzBB’s Jimmy Gil Live came to our forum at Annabel’s resto wearing a red rubber wrist band with Duterte’s name embossed on it.

I asked him “Kanino tayo ngayon?” — my usual banter to close media friends when we talk politics. Jimmy responded by handing me a Duterte wristband, which I gamely wore (but took off later in keeping with my supposedly being not committed to anyone).

Duterte, who joined the presidential derby late, caught my interest at that time when my choice candidate was, and still is, NOTA (None Of The Above). As the new tough-talking alterative, he was most interesting.

His strong stance against crime attracted me immediately, because I was, still am, angry with the neighborhood vandals who scratch my car and am annoyed by a businessman whose pretentious resto squats on my small lakeshore lot in Pililla.

A “Go get ‘em!” expectation was a shallow and very personal reason, but I was thinking a Duterte type could strike fear into the hearts of lawbreakers, big and small, and that would be a good start for a nationwide cleanup and respect for law.

But there are bigger issues that Duterte still has to discuss in a logical, thorough manner, such as:

• Duterte says he wants a shift to a federal parliamentary system, but has not presented a feasible transition plan and a timetable for moving the mountain within six years. What will he do with the Supreme Court and the Congress? How will he replicate a promised Bangsamoro with corresponding autonomous regions elsewhere? What will be the final role of the president?

• Since the Philippines is caught in the tectonic clash of the United States and China in the region, how does Duterte intend to maneuver the Philippines out of the escalating Big Power conflict, while improving relations with the protagonists?

• What is Duterte’s economic strategy and plan over the short, medium and long terms? How does he intend to maintain a robust economic growth, evidenced by more jobs, more food, and less poverty?

•What will Duterte do with the inefficient, unsafe, corrupt Metro Rail Transit system, and the traffic sclerosis strangling the national capital to a slow death?

HMOs deny coverage to senior citizens

PRIVATE health maintenance organizations (HMOs) treat some six million senior citizens like old cars that are refused comprehensive insurance coverage if older than eight years. Many HMOs put a 60-year-old coverage cap on their clients/patients.

To end that unfairness to Filipinos 60 years old or older, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo wants the Insurance Commission to penalize private HMOs that discriminate against senior citizens.

He has filed HB 6348 — the proposed Anti-Healthcare Age Discrimination Act – seeking to impose fines of up to P300,000 on HMOs that refuse to sign up seniors. Under the bill, seniors are also entitled to damages if denied renewal of their policies at age 60.

Romulo pointed out that Section 11, Article XIII, of the Constitution mandates the State to make essential healthcare services available to all, especially the elderly, at affordable cost.

President Noynoy Aquino issued last month Executive Order 192 transferring the supervision and regulation of HMOs from the health department to the Insurance Commission. There are 23 HMOs servicing more than four million planholders.

Aside from HMO plans and services, seniors enjoy healthcare benefits, including the 20-percent discount on hospital charges and the cost of medicines, and automatic coverage by the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

As for motor vehicles (mentioned earlier) that are at least eight years old, some small insurance firms give them comprehensive coverage at a higher premium. But if a car is already covered at age eight years, its insurance is normally continued if still with the original owner.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 29, 2015)

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