"Pagcor started accepting walk-in applicants for medical assistance this week."
The Philippine Gaming Amusement Corp. will resume accepting applications for assistance to needy patients. This announcement last week by Pagcor chairperson Andrea Domingo is good news to many Filipinos in dire need of funds for the prohibitive cost of a major operation for their ailment.
The government-owned-and-controlled corporation temporarily stopped financial aid requests after it discovered that a couple had submitted fraudulent documents on fabricated medical cases. The couple was charged but eventually released; Pagcor said it would take legal action.
Pagcor said it would process financial aid applications in coordination with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office which has a better human and organizational network in processing requests for medical assistance. The requests will have to be endorsed and verified by the PCSO before being considered by Pagcor for approval.
The gaming regulator started accepting walk-in applicants for medical assistance last Nov. 18.
“The primary objective of Pagcor and PCSO coordination is to maximize aid given aid given to each patient and to harmonize the systems of both agencies,” Pagcor said, adding this was an interim measure for responsible data sharing between the two agencies.
Pagcor is mandated to fund socio-civic projects in the country and accepts walk in applicants at its office on United Nations Avenue in Manila from Monday to Thursday. The PCSO endorsement, however, is needed for applications to be processed by Pagcor. It also has offices in hospital financial assistance centers.
Tipping point in HK protests
The months-long demonstrations by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have reached a tipping point. Police trying to dislodge protesters from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University fired tear gas and rubber bullets, prompting protesters to fire back with Molotov cocktails and bow and arrows.
Protesters captured by police were dragged across the ground and clubbed on the head with truncheons. A Hong Kong legislator said the situation is serious which could force China to unleash its People’s Liberation Army troops from the barracks to subdue what has become an embarrassment for Beijing. Indeed, China has gotten itself into a damned-if-you-do, damned-if- you-don't situation.
China has warned the United States and Britain not to meddle in the Hong Kong unrest. Britain is the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong and has an agreement with China not to stifle dissent and civil liberties in the former crown colony.
As I wrote in an earlier column, this has been a time of discontent in many parts of the world—Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Iraq and now Iran which has seldom seen protests since the Ayatollahs took over from the Shah. Iranians are protesting the increase in petrol prices. The oil-producing country subsidizes petrol consumption by Iranians but had to hike prices because of the economic sanctions imposed by the US to soften Tehran's stiff stand on arms nuclearization.
Iranians suspect the Iraqi hand in the current unrest in their country. But Iraq claims it is Iran that has has planted spies in Baghdad, undermining its government. The two countries have gone to war before. Hostilities between the two Middle East countries could erupt again given their different religion and culture.
A war between Iran and Iraq could affect world oil prices, spiraling the cost of fuel products that could cause hardship to many nations, including the Philippines.
I gave been to Iran as part of the media that covered former President Fidel V. Ramos’ official working visit. I was able to see Ayatollah Khomeini from a distance but had a closer look at the people who were then just on the apex of their hate against the “Great Satan US” and their propaganda victory when it held hostage and then released the whole US embassy staff in the Iranian capital.
Iran is a closed society where the women have to wear a veil over their face. Even the female members of the Philippine media who were with FVR had to do so. I remember Malaya's Ellen Tordesillas had to put on a veil to cover FVR's official functions.
Rey Langit, who was also with the Philippine media in the Iran trip, found time to buy a couple of suits. But Irans don’t sell or wear neckties because they think it is a symbol of colonialism that chokes their freedom. Even the Iranian delegation to the United Nations in New York cannot be compelled to wear neckties during formal occasions.
Will we see a dramatic change in Iran with the people's protests against their own leaders?
If China did not see the consequences of its extradition law that would bring suspects to Beijing, will the Iranians' protests also trigger a major upheaval in Iran?