Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 17      June 5 - 11, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Health group vs ‘drug lords’

The Health Alliance for Democracy (Head) lauded in a June 3 statement the campaign for low-cost and safe medicine by KilosBayan para sa Kalusugan, a broad alliance of health advocates.

“We must put an end to the monopoly pricing being dictated by transnational and multinational corporations,” said Head secretary general Dr. Gene Nisperos. He said these companies are “literally ‘drug lords’, no different from the jueteng lords that bleed our people dry of their last centavo.”

According to Head, 95 percent of the country’s drug industry is controlled by foreign corporations, with United Laboratories having the biggest share of 23 percent. Eighty percent of drug distribution is controlled by TNC Zuellig while its sister company Interphil controls 75 percent of drug manufacturing. Mercury drug, on the other hand, controls 75 percent of retailing.

The group also said the prices of medicine in the country rank among the highest in the world. It cited the case of the drug Felodepine which is used to treat hypertension. Felodepine is being sold here as Plendil by Astra-Zeneca for P65 but can be bought only for P35 in Thailand and P10 in India – sold by the same company. Bulatlat

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POEA officials’ ‘incentive allowance’ taken from OFW funds – MSP

The Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) charged in a June 3 statement that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) of illegally withdrawing P24.048 million from the Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) trust funds in order to grant an “incentive allowance” to its high bureaucrats.

The group also cited the Commission on Audit’s statement that such use of OWWA funds is unauthorized, which the POEA has been doing for the past three years for a total grant of about P40 million in incentives and allowances to its officials.

“They have the gall to do this because President Arroyo dispenses perks in this way, too,” said MSP chair Connie Bragas-Regalado.
MSP said POEA executives were issued mobile phones and downloaded about P796,000 worth of games, ring tones, picture messages and other unauthorized items. The agency also incurred, the group added, other charges amounting to P308,747 in the use of the mobile phones, in addition to the fixed charges of P400,002 due to subscription to Globe lines or plans.
MSP called on Congress to investigate POEAs’ high officials and prosecute them for the irregularities. Bulatlat

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Inutile anti-jueteng campaign

Party-list Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran said June 2 that with the admission by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Arturo Lomibao of PNP’s failure to stop jueteng (an illegal numbers game), “the PNP is already washing its hand of its responsibility to put an end to the illegal numbers game and round up the gambling lords that run the syndicates.”

He said that more than the PNP’s lack of manpower or skills, the problem in fighting jueteng lies with the higher-ups, “many of whom are alleged to be on the payroll of jueteng lords and ensure the number game's proliferation and smooth operations in the provinces."

He also said that even Lomibao himself is being suspected to be involved in jueteng as a syndicate protector.

"The credibility of the very people tasked to put an end to the gambling network is even questionable - so it's not surprising that the campaign to put an end to jueteng is just going around in circles,” Beltran said. Bulatlat 




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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