5 Things We Need to Change With the PDA:
By nature I am not a political animal because I don’t like following the leader if I have to do something against what I believe is right. I’m not for the mainstream because I’m too frank for my own good. Hence, being in politics is something I never thought of being a part of or aspire to. However, as a member of the PDA, I believe I have the right to share my thoughts in the coming PDA Election that will be held on 107th PDA Annual Convention. I will not tell you what to do or who to vote because these are your rights exclusively for you to do and decide. But, I will share in this blog something to ponder and consider, so, you will vote someone whom you believe can truly improve and make a difference for the PDA.
The words integrity, not corrupt, honest and God-fearing have been used so often enough by politicians in general that I have to do everything not to gag when I hear it. Because in truth these words are very humongous to quantify how it can be measured to reflect a person’s real character and leadership. We are so focus on buying what we think they mean when they spout on these words during campaigns that we forget and not think on how they can actually achieve all of what it represents in the time frame they are sitting as a leader of the PDA.
Like most of the dentists who are doing well in their practice and in their lives we fall into feeling of indifference and couldn’t really careless what happens anymore to PDA as long as its policies will not affect directly our current practice. We just go along and follow our basic duties such as paying annually our dues and attending seminars once in awhile. We simply just do what’s needed to be done to go along and get along. After all, making waves in the PDA or at any organization for that matter who have the power to affect your life is something nobody will aspire to do except if you yourself is directly affected. That’s simply the way it is because that’s human nature. However, there comes a time in ones life that you get tired of what you see. You don’t want to get involved but your conscience is dictating you otherwise. As they say “Evil Succeeds when Good Men Do Nothing”. But, who exactly are the good men? Being good seems to be easy when we were all still kids but we all know as we grow up that doing good is more often than not is one of the most difficult thing to do because it always comes with sacrifice. Therefore, we got to work in the premise that whoever will sit in power at the PDA will have its own set of challenges in order to decide and do good every single day while they are in that given position. We also have to work in the premise that power corrupts, so, instead of us looking into the person who’s running, let’s look into what their real platforms are, how they plan to achieve it and what they will do to change the rules in the PDA to ensure that even if a good person gets corrupted when they become an official of the PDA, the members will still be protected because of its rules. Here are my thoughts on the 5 Things We Need to Change With the PDA:
Our current CBL is not only jurassic but totally useless in protecting the welfare of its members. It is vague by law and there are so many loopholes that one can already play and twists it to the advantage of whomever is sitting there. That’s been clearly shown to what happened last year. What is morally and ethically right becomes legally wrong figuratively speaking. I have been an advocate of changing that and having a plebiscite for approval of its members since day 1. But, there are so many reasons given why it’s going to be hard to amend or totally revamp it to a new one. I wonder why. Changing the CBL is indeed a big task and this requires a lot of maneuvering to ensure that the changes will be for the better not for the worst. So, how should we do this? Here are my suggestions:
(a) The people who will create the change on the CBL are those who will NOT and will NEVER run for any positions now or in the future. They should be ban in running because this will ensure that they have nothing to gain in recommending a particular change in the CBL except what is best for the PDA members.
(b) The people involved here should also be recommended solely by the members of the chapters and the chapter’s officials should NOT be included in the process except to arrange the event of counting the numbers of who is the person they will recommend to be a part of this. It should be done in secret ballot and should be open and counted in front of its members. The events should be filmed and submitted along with the result to ensure that the integrity of the process is done according to the letter.
(c) The Past Presidents can be advisers during the process of amending, however, if they will participate in this, they will also be banned from running again in any other positions currently and in the future.
(d) The PDA Lawyer and an accountant should be designated to guide the people who are participating in the amendment as well.
(e) The PDA staff should record the process via video and type the changes that will be voted by the members in a Plebiscite.
(f) The process of Amendment should be done within 90 days and whomever will participate on this should be compensated well for the time they spent in doing this. This is too important to hypocritically say we should be doing this for service. There’s nothing that irks me more but this ridiculous pretension. If we are spending PDA’s money at least let us spend it where the members will actually benefit later on.
(g) The Amendment should be posted to the PDA website and all members will have to vote. Voting should not be optional here unless you are sick, dying or out of the country. If you don’t vote, you can’t register as a member of PDA for 1 year and will have to lose the certificate of good standing. After a year when you register, you will have to pay P 5,000.00 penalty unless you can prove why you weren’t able to vote during the plebiscite. Again, this is too important not to make a stand and be apathetic about it. It is about time that we give rules with no ifs and buts to create discipline which we are all surly lacking. This is the reason why PDA and even our country never amounted to anything except be the same all these years.
II. Issues to Address In The Inner Political Set-Up:
(a) COMELEC - I have a certain experience on this during my college days. I will never forget it because I personally witnessed how one can be powerless to do anything when the hand ruling the game holds your future. I was assigned to be the head of the COMELEC. I took into heart my duties but lo and behold, I realized I was just a puppet to the game that the bigwigs are playing. It is one of the things that defined me on how I look into politics and people in general. The loudest person who keeps on saying they are honest and with integrity is more often than not the biggest liar of all. Keeping integrity in a system that is generally corrupt like politics is something truly difficult indeed, so, when a candidate doesn’t even acknowledge it can happen or even exists, then, that is someone we all should be wary about. Therefore, for COMELEC to become truly independent, it has to be comprise similar to the method I mentioned above in choosing who will become a part of it. However, an impartial advisor, like a lawyer should be able to guide them on the legalities. There should be 2 representatives each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
(b) Ethics Committee- This is another area that requires to be address properly. Just like the COMELEC, being a part of it should NOT come from the recommendation of the current President nor the Incoming. Current officials should be banned from recommending anyone as this will defeats its purpose of impartiality. The people who should recommend this should be done in the same process as the COMELEC and the people who will handle the amendment of the CBL. However, there should be one additional requirement on this and that is they have to go through a psychological test regarding ethics which will be prepared by a professional Psychologist. This will be a series of situations that will be given and they will answer it according to what they will do in that given situation. The Psychologist will now recommend the top 5 dentists who can be part of the Ethics Committee.
(c) Handling of Financial Accounts- I learned in the forums that a President has a free hand in choosing who will be his/her co-signatory in signing PDA checks. Again, this is borderline ridiculous if not the height of stupidity of practice. If you really want to make sure that the coffers of PDA will not be spent without the check and balance, then, there should be a limit on the amount that a President can sign a check and the co-signatory should be a representative of an opposing party. Any accounts to be open on behalf of the PDA should be opened by 3 people, the main representative, an opposing party representative and a PDA accountant. This will make everything kosher and no one can open an account just like that on behalf of the PDA whether in good intentions or not.
(d) HOD- This body has to be change on how the selection is being done. HOD members is needed to be elected by the members of each Chapters. It shouldn’t be recommended by the Chapter’s officials or President. This is to ensure that the HOD representative will have a greater probability of being impartial to the current majority party sitting at the PDA. I only realized last year how important their role is in the scheme of things. And, doing what we currently doing now in the manner of choosing the HOD will not do if we want to make sure that the integrity of PDA remains intact.
(e) Compensation & Benefits- We need people in PDA that will lead us to a better future, not for me or for those who are about in their end stage of their practice but for the younger generation. We need to create solutions to ensure that the people who are leading us will have no reason to be corrupt. That these people will work hard for us. And, that solution I believe is giving these people who serve us a compensation deserving for them to sacrifice their time for their practice and family. We need to compensate them well. We shouldn’t begrudge them the financial benefits and perks that comes along with the position within the bounds we set forth. Again, let’s stop being goody two shoes about it. They need money in order to survive and benefits to make it worthwhile. It is not easy to be in their position and if we are going to be stingy about this, then, I guess, we do deserve what we get. This is where “we get what we pay for" or not pay for, for that matter comes along. Junked that honorarium scheme and provide a clear compensation and benefit package for all those who will work for us. I'm not saying this will prevent any officials not to be corrupt but at least those who are really honest can have the reason to be honest. Let's make them feel they are appreciated and not just being criticized all the time for a work they didn't even get any real compensation. But, if that is your main concern that we will be paying them, then, here are my suggested ground rules:
i. They can’t work as a dentist and represent any Companies that distributes or supply dental products and equipment. They can’t work as a dentist during the year they are in that position and 2 years they can’t lecture and represent any Dental suppliers and distributors.
ii. Their compensation is based on their position in the PDA and salaries should not be lower than 60,000.00 for any given position.
iii. There should be a target goal for each current officials on how much they should be able to produce or increase the money left in the PDA once they step down. If they reach that goal, they should be given a well deserve incentive trip as a whole with a budget according to the range they produced which will be computed by an accountant.
iv. During their term, their transportation needs to be reimbursed as long as it is an official event and work. There’s should be a maximum amount set you can reimbursed per month excluding out of town engagements.
v. International Engagements should be limited only to 2 people but the budget they can spend there should be at least reasonable enough that they will not look undeserving of an official representative of PDA. We have to provide them reasonable dwelling, meal allowances and cost of their representation during those events. I would also suggests, that representatives should not be the same for each international engagements, so, that others can also enjoy the perks except for the current President.
vi. The officials of PDA should be relieved from paying their membership duties for a minimum of 5 years and for the President for life.
viii. A PDA President should not be allowed anymore to run for any given lowered position for the coming elections.
ix. Similar compensations and benefits should be set forth in the local chapters according to their financial capabilities, so, that their manner of their election will not be the way I see it now.
xi. No relatives up to 3rd generation should be able to deal with a PDA business transaction such as purchasing of whatever it maybe like insurance, things needed for the PDA Convention and events, etc.
xii. Additional benefits should be given according to the years of service to those who previously became leaders of our Organization as a sign of our gratitude to their years of service irregardless whether there’s a case pending or not against them.
III. Issues to Address For PDA Members:
The reason why members don’t appreciate paying their dues is because they hardly see any benefit in doing so. They also don’t become active because there’s no justification to do so. It is all but politics and hassle for them to be a part of something that they’ve never benefited from or if they did, it is so meager that it becomes laughable. There’s so many red tapes and waiting for you to receive your benefits that you are better off not to expect anything. Thus, we all become apathetic to an organization that only a few and selected ones truly benefits from it.
As a member in order to demand something, we need to accept that we also need to bear the responsibilities of being a member. We can’t all just keep on complaining yet we don’t want to spend, do and sacrifice something. We need to understand that like any other corporation, as we are considered as such by the SEC, there’s need for sustainable financial earnings to be able to afford all the benefits we are expecting as a member. We have to give some in order to get some. We have to increase our cost of membership as this will enable us to implement some of the changes needed to be done in order for the PDA services to be given to us will become possible and viable. The need of increase of cost in membership will ONLY be done until PDA cleans its house and apply the necessary changes to ensure that the hard earned money given by its members will be all worth it. So, here are the issues that I believe each members of the PDA are concerned about:
(a) A unified front against low compensation and delayed payment of HMO Companies. This should be strictly implemented. Any member who will accept a HMO accreditation who doesn’t follow the new rules created by PDA for HMO should be penalized severely. There should not be an exemption to a rule here. And, PDA should coordinate with PRC to suspend the license of a dentist whether PDA member or not who will not follow the banning of HMO’s who will not follow the minimum price range set forth by the PDA that dentists should be paid for.
(b) Strict guidelines on the minimum amount of charges for dental services. Any dentists caught charging lower than the minimum requirement should be severely punished like suspension of their license and therefore, practice for 1 year and this should include those who are not even members of the PDA. Each Chapter will set the minimum price range according to their market and the chapter officials will have to monitor this and report the violators to the PDA.
It is necessary to take note that both A & B penalty can only be given after the accused have been given the proper fair hearing to defend oneself. PDA can also issue a 3 written warnings first with a specific deadline of implementation before it can proceed to a hearing.
(c) Medical, Retirement, Calamity and Emergency Financial Aid and Death Benefits- Each PDA members should be provided with these benefits at the amount compensatory of a PDA member. It should be substantial enough to make it worthwhile to be a PDA member and based of number of years that a member has paid his/her membership. However, there’s an issue on the previous history getting lost and amnesty was given to a specific year onwards. This amnesty don’t particularly sits well with me. First, it is not the fault of the members that the database is damaged without a back-up and our records got lost, so, why then it becomes our responsibility of proving you’ve not been delinquent in paying your dues falls now in our shoulders? Second, why give amnesty to others but not to all? Besides, isn’t it amnesty is a word given when you are the one at fault and you are just being given a reprieve to have a chance again to redeem yourself? This has to be addressed properly because the current solution given to this is not only borderline unjust but offensive. It is also about time our officials dictates to the insurance companies what is the best deal for us rather than the other way around, so, PDA can give us the benefits we deserve. I’ve been a PhilAm agent a long time ago and I know how it works. An account like PDA can move mountains, so, it only becomes impossible if there’s something going on beside a straightforward transaction.
(d) Bank Loan Set-Up- PDA should provide a bank wherein any members can make a loan with lower interest rate at easy payment schemes that will be used for their housing and dental business including purchasing of dental equipments.
(e) Continuing Education Program- Any member of the speaker’s bureau should be able to have a chance to get trained abroad through PDA sponsorship. But, in doing so, there’s a minimum of 2 years of free service that will be given back to the PDA members via lectures and workshops. That’s the number of years depending on the cost of the training given. A stated specified number of lectures and/or workshop needs to be fulfilled by the member of SB depending again to the cost of his/her sponsored training. Failure to fulfil those obligations will result for the SB member to pay for the actual cost spent by the PDA for his/her training plus 10% interest. The financial compensation of the speakers should also be increased, so, that they will also be able to afford to continually improve their craft on their own and not be dependent on the sponsorship of dental suppliers. If dentists are serious to continually learn and hates product presentations given by the local speakers, then, we all have to accept the fact that we have to pay for it. This will never happen until speakers will be able to afford to capitalize their own professional growth and be compensated well enough to earn a living from it without the financial aid of dental suppliers. Being a speaker doesn’t only involve making powerpoint presentations and copying and pasting photos from Google. It requires a lot of effort, research, practice and studies in order to ensure what one speaker teaches is something indeed worthwhile to be learned by his/her audience.
(f) Research and Development- We should encourage dentists to submit research and papers we can enter and submit in the international dental community. PDA with the assistance of other Companies and the Government should be able to research and develop new technologies that can be sold or compete with the International Market wherein PDA can benefit financially and be a strong contender as country where capable and respectable dentists do exist. PDA should encourage local dentists to show their talents and make it shine in the arena that we can proudly say our own.
IV. Legal Issues
PDA should be able to provide a free legal representation to any legal case filed against any PDA member. However, a base limit or amount should be imposed in terms of financial aid. After that, a member should be guided properly on how to proceed further at his/her own cost. Moreover, any official of the PDA should also be protected by the PDA legal representation when a case is filed against them while they are dispensing their duties, however, approval of this should run in a committee first if there’s a basis on the claim of protection and legitimate for PDA to shoulder all the cost. This should be approved by the HOD or the Ethics Committee. Otherwise, an official can get the legal benefit similar to a member with a limited budget to assists any dentist for the initial legal proceedings and guidance.
V. Charity Works:
PDA should already impose strict guidelines on how we do charity works as to not spread further diseases to those we are helping. Infection Control should at least be implemented especially if the treatments given will result to the spread of diseases in communities who can’t even afford to buy food let alone medical treatments due to a disease we unintentionally spread by our charity works. It is so sad to see that we just help just for the sake of helping without considering the entire effect of those whom we help. We also sometimes don’t care what will happen to them next after all the unsanitize extractions we did because we are simply basking of feeling good about ourselves that we did a good deed. There’s a saying that the road to hell is paved by good intentions. That’s exactly what we are doing here. As health care providers we are duty bound to do even our charity works properly. And, even if we don’t particularly care about spreading TB or hepatitis to those we help, we should consider that we are also exposing ourselves from these diseases. There are a lot of ways we can help and do it properly. And, that is something PDA should consider and not just sing its hymn without really understanding what it means.
These are some of the things I feel should be dealt with by those who are running and a platform where they can clearly show where their integrity really lies on. Some will say I am too ideal, well, maybe I am but without ideals how can we even expect change for the better? Until we start changing within ourselves and looking at things at a different way rather than just complaining about it, then, we will remain the same no matter who will be the officials of PDA. We will continually be where we are and deserving of what we are currently getting. That’s my humble opinion and just saying… Think about it and then decide if those who are really running are running to do something about it or just running to get something out of it.
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