Gordon says Faeldon not absolved from GCTA fiasco

Robie de Guzman   •   September 20, 2019   •   869

Nicanor Faeldon

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said that sacked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)chief Nicanor Faeldon is not absolved from the controversy on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Gordon made the statement to clarify reports he is allegedly making an effort to steer Faeldon away from the GCTA mess.

The senator said the former BuCor chief remains accountable for being incompetent and negligent.

Gordon said Faeldon admitted his lack of knowledge on a Department of Justice (DOJ) order requiring the approval of the BuCor director general for the release of prisoners with expired sentence, as well as the approval of the Secretary of Justice to freed inmates who are sentenced to life imprisonment.

Faeldon was grilled at the start of the inquiry of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice and Human Rights Committees weeks ago on the questionable application of the GCTA law and the alleged irregularities in the agency relating to its implementation.

Faeldon’s lack of awareness over the DOJ order no. 953, Gordon said, led him to permit the early release of former Calauan mayor, who was convicted of rape and murder.

“Faeldon was not cleared from the corruption in BuCor as what stated on reports, specifically sa mga anomalya sa New Bilibid Prison.

“Naimbestigahan na siya sa Senado at siya’y umamin na hindi niya alam ang tungkol sa department order ng DOJ. Clearly, that is negligence of duty. Kaya nga siya nasibak sa puwesto,” Gordon said.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier said he believes Faeldon should be held liable for the GCTA mess which wrongly released more than 1,900 convicts of heinous crimes.

The issue led to President Rodrigo Duterte’s dismissal of Faeldon and the launching of investigation by the Ombudsman on the alleged anomalies involving BuCor officials.

The controversy also prompted the revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10592 or otherwise known as the GCTA law, which now specifically states who among the convicts are ineligible from availing GCTA grants.

Gordon lauds Locsin for filing diplomatic protest vs China’s new law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Thursday commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for filing a diplomatic protest against a new law passed by China that allows its coast guard to shoot foreign vessels in the contested areas in South China Sea.

“I commend Secretary Locsin for taking a very important and valiant action by standing up for our rights. He did right by our country, and we support him wholeheartedly,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Committee on justice and human rights, said in a statement.

Locsin on Wednesday said he has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its new law, which he called a “verbal threat of war” to any country that defies it.

China’s legislative body last week passed the law that allows its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

“When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, even threatens to demolish our fishing boats or fishing boats of any country that get to that ocean or that sea, this is a serious cause for concern. This is a shot in the bow of all the claimants in the territories,” Gordon said.

Other senators have also expressed concern over the measure that could endanger the lives of Filipino fishermen who venture in the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and 3 other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. 

Gordon files bill to expand country’s pool of vaccinators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the country’s pool of vaccinators for the immunization program of the government.

Gordon, in a statement, said Senate Bill No. 1987 will allow training for other members in the medical field, as well as, non-medical practitioners.

“Since we have a limited number of doctors, nurses, and midwives that will aid in the COVID-19 vaccination program, we filed a bill that expands the pool of vaccinators of the DOH by training other professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, medical technologists, and even those without a medical background to be vaccinators,” he said.

Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 1987 states that non-medical practitioners that will be part of the training will be allowed provided that they will be given the appropriate training, certification and authority by the Department of Health (DOH), and that they will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only contingent upon the existence of the national health emergency for which it is called.

Non-medical practitioners will be given appropriate training, certification, and authority by the Department of Health (DOH).

The filed bill also states that the trained individuals will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only, subject to the existence of a national health emergency.

“If we expand the manpower for the vaccination program, the government’s target of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos to be able to achieve herd immunity or population immunity can be attained,” Gordon added.

According to the DOH, only 617,239 health care workers from both public and private health institutions will be able to help in administering the COVID-19 vaccines. -AAC

Gordon urges SSS to review 2021 contribution hike

Robie de Guzman   •   January 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon called on the Social Security System (SSS) to submit proposals to the Senate on how to suspend the implementation of the 2021 contribution increase without shortening the fund life of the agency.

While the law mandates an increase in SSS contributions in 2021, Gordon pointed out that this is untimely, especially when businesses are down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bagama’t kailangan at nakasaad sa batas na magkaroon ng dagdag na kontribusyon ang SSS sa 2021, nakikita natin na hindi ito napapanahon lalo na’t lugmok ang ating mga negosyo,” Gordon said in a statement Thursday.

“Noong ginawa ang RA 11199, wala pa sa hinagap ng mga mambabatas na magkakaroon ng pandemya at magiging malala ang epekto nito sa ekonomiya,” he added.

Gordon cited data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) which shows that SSS’ loss sales reached P5.2 trillion in the first quarter of the year alone.

He noted that only halfway of the year, it is already higher than the 2021 national budget of P4.5 trillion.

“Kailangan nating balansehen ang interes ng mamayan na nahihirapan sa pandemya pati rin ang interes na mapangalagaan ang pondo ng SSS,” he added.

Gordon, however, acknowledged that stopping the 2021 contribution increase is not easy.

He said a new law may be needed as the increase is specifically mandated in Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 and there is no provision in the said law that empowers the SSS to stop it.

“Pag-uusapan namin ito sa komite at kung kinakailangan ay maglalabas kami ng bagong batas para maging magaan para sa ating mga kabababayan ang makaahon sa pandemyang ito habang patuloy na nagbabayad ng kanilang kontribusyon sa SSS,” he said.

RA 1199 was enacted on February 7, 2019 to protect the fund life of the SSS which was shortened by ten years from 2042 to 2032 on account of the approved Php 1,000 additional benefit given by President Rodrigo Duterte under the memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated February 22, 2017.

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