MANILA – Taking up the cudgels for Filipino cancer patients, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte vowed to ensure funding for the implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) Act of 2019.

Velasco, Pulong want adequate funding for Cancer Control Law

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MANILA – Taking up the cudgels for Filipino cancer patients, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte vowed to ensure funding for the implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control (NICC) Act of 2019.

Velasco said the Lower House will push for adequate funding for the NICC law in the upcoming bicameral conference on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

“The importance of this law and its full implementation cannot be overstated.
We have to make sure that it is sufficiently funded so it could effectively serve its purpose of strengthening government efforts to combat cancer and increasing the fighting chance of patients to overcome the disease,” said Velasco.

Velasco shared the sentiments of Rep. Duterte, who earlier underscored the need for Congress to ensure that the NICC law is adequately funded.

“Congressman Pulong and I want to make sure that cancer treatment and care will be more equitable and affordable for all, especially for the underprivileged, poor and marginalized Filipinos as envisioned in the NICC law,” Velasco said, noting that cancer care and treatment could be costly.

The House leader pointed out that cancer is one of the leading causes of death and disease in the Philippines, and it could “take a toll on people’s health and finances.”

Citing a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Genetics, Velasco said that 189 of every 100,000 Filipinos are afflicted with cancer while 96 cancer patients die every day.

Velasco said the high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment could push even high-income families to sudden financial struggle.

According to the Cancer Coalition Philippines, a breast ultrasound—which is but one of many tests for breast cancer—could range from P600 to as high as P3,000 depending on the hospital. A colonoscopy could cost from P1,500 to around P14,000 exclusive of professional fees.

Depending on the type of cancer, chemotherapy cost per session can range from P20,000 to P120,000 or more.

“Certainly, the economic burden of cancer care and treatment is overwhelming and it has the potential to drive Filipino families deeper into poverty,” said Velasco.

The NICC Act, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in February last year, establishes a National Integrated Cancer Control Program which would serve as the framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.

The program aims to decrease the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer; lessen the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children; and prevent cancer recurrence, metastasis and secondary cancer among survivors and people living with cancer.

It also seeks to provide timely access to optimal cancer treatment and care for all cancer patients; make cancer treatment and care more affordable and accessible; improve the experience of cancer treatment and care of patients and families; support the recovery and reintegration to society of the cancer survivors; and eliminate various forms of burden on patients, people living with cancer, survivors and their families.

Earlier, the President’s eldest kin requested Velasco to ensure that there’s enough funds to assist cancer patients.

Duterte, whose mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman is a breast cancer survivor and now a breast cancer advocate, cited the need to “prioritize the needs of our fellow country men especially those who don’t have enough income or capabilities to survive their illnesses.”

“My Mom is a cancer survivor. Diagnosed in 2016 and successfully recovered more than a year after treatment and long-term survivorship transitions. It is our duty to provide help to every fellow citizens to our best. Give them a second chance to live,” said the younger Duterte. (CMC)

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Twitter to boot users who persist with Covid-19 lies

Twitter said Monday it will start labeling misleading tweets about Covid-19 vaccines and boot users who persist in spreading such misinformation.

The one-to-many messaging service introduced a “strike system” that will gradually escalate to a permanent ban after the fifth offending tweet.

“We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter,” the San Francisco-based company said in a blog post.

“Particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules.”

Twitter users will be notified when a tweet is labeled as misleading or needs to be removed for breaking the platform’s rules, earning a strike, according to the company.

The second and third strikes will each result in the violating account being blocked for 12 hours.

With a fourth violation, an account will be sidelined for seven days. A fifth strike will get accounts permanently suspended, Twitter said.

Twitter late last year began calling on users to remove dangerously misleading Covid-19 claims, including suggestions that vaccines are used to harm or control people.

The service also targeted baseless claims about adverse effects of vaccines or questioning the reality of the pandemic.

Since then, Twitter has removed more than 8,400 tweets and notified some 11.5 million accounts worldwide about violations of its Covid-19 information rules.

The strike system is similar to what Twitter applies to election-related misinformation, which led to former US president Donald Trump being permanently banned for repeated violations, including language that the platform said could incite violence and questioning the integrity of the voting process.

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are taking place in many countries in an effort to keep people healthy and return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.

YouTube and Facebook are among the online platforms that have taken steps to fight the spread of lies about the pandemic and vaccines.

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Tokyo asks China to end Covid-19 anal swabs for Japanese

Japan has asked China to avoid using anal swabs to test its citizens for coronavirus, saying the method prompted complaints of “psychological distress”.

Tokyo’s intervention comes after reports that US diplomatic personnel in China had complained of being subjected to the intrusive tests — a claim Beijing denied.

China, which has largely brought the virus under control domestically, said last month that anal swabs can be more effective than normal throat and nose tests as the virus can linger longer in the digestive system.

But Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said late Monday that Tokyo had made a formal request through its embassy in Beijing that people arriving from the country be exempted.

“Our embassy requested Japanese citizens be excluded from anal PCR tests, as some Japanese expatriates… expressed the opinion that the tests produce significant psychological distress,” Kato said.

“At this point we have not received a response that they change this… We will continue pressing the issue,” he added, noting that there was no information that any other country was using the method.

Asked about the complaint, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing’s testing methods were “science-based” and “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations”.

Last month, US media said State Department personnel in China had complained about the method, but Beijing rebuffed the reports, saying it had “never requested US diplomatic personnel in China to undergo anal swabs”.

Officials in China have used anal swabs to test people it considers at high-risk of contracting Covid-19, including residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed cases as well as some international travellers.

But they have acknowledged it would be hard to use anal swabs as widely as the other methods, which have been used to test millions in mass campaigns, as the technique was “not convenient”. Agence France-Presse

Philippines fires diplomat whose maid attacks were caught on film

The Philippines has sacked its former ambassador to Brazil, after she was caught on camera attacking a domestic worker at her official residence in Brasilia.

Marichu Mauro was recalled to Manila late last year after Brazil’s GloboNews channel broadcast security camera footage filmed over eight months showing her repeatedly assaulting a member of her household staff.

The career diplomat has now been dismissed from the foreign service, President Rodrigo Duterte told a television audience on Monday.

“There are rules to be followed. If you disobey, you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” Duterte said.

Mauro’s firing means she will lose her pension. She is also barred from standing for public office.

According to GloboNews, the Filipino worker was employed at the ambassador’s official residence, a large gated compound in Brazil’s capital.

Footage of the abuse — dated between March and October 2020 — was used as evidence in a complaint lodged with the Philippine government against Mauro, it said.

Mauro was posted to Brazil in 2018, from where she oversaw the missions to Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

Mauro has not responded to AFP’s request for comment on her dismissal.

Millions of Filipinos escape low wages, unemployment and limited opportunities at home by going overseas, including as to become domestic workers. Their remittances are vital to the local economy.

But many of these workers face difficult or dangerous conditions, and reports of physical or psychological abuse are not uncommon, though most instances involve foreign employers. Agence France-Presse

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