Outgoing senators reveal plans after Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2019   •   9907

Upper row: (L-R ) Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Escudero Lower row: (L-R) Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – Six senators of the 17th Congress are soon to leave the Senate.

Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV have until June 30 to serve their last term.

Senators Bam Aquino and Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, needed to leave following their defeat in the 2019 midterm polls.

Escudero may be leaving the Senate but he remains in public office after winning as governor of Sorsogon.

Legarda, likewise, is shifting to local governance after being proclaimed as the new representative of Antique.

For his part, Honasan said he is still hoping for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of him as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It’s up in the air. That will be decided after June 30 by the appointing authority,” Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senators Aquino and Ejercito said that their next plan to enjoy their private lives with their respective families.

“Ngayon ang ating destiny ay maiba hindi man magpatuloy dito. I guess na mahalaga right now just to take steps back. Spend more time with your kids and try to determine how to help the country in other ways,” Aquino said.

“Maraming paraan para tumulong sa ating bayan,” he added.

“Tulungan ko muna ang wife ko sa mga businesses naming,” Ejercito said when asked about his plans following his exit from Senate.

He admitted, however, that he regretted the outcome of running against his brother Jinggoy Estrada.

“Ang regrets ko…ang pinakamabigat kong problema yung dalawa kaming magkapatid na tumakbo,” Ejercito said.

“Sana kinausap ko na lang. Nag-usap kami ng father ko, ng pamilya na nasabi ko na sana ang aking concern. Ilang beses ko sinabi na ito ang mangyayari na pwede kaming mahila lahat pababa. Exactly ito  na nga ang nangyari,” he added.

Trillanes, meanwhile, said he is thinking of going back to school.

The controversial senator earlier said he will remain critical of the Duterte administration even outside of Senate. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Senate leadership supports resolution to allow Sen. de Lima to join sessions via teleconferencing

Maris Federez   •   August 10, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed his support to the resolution filed by Senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson to allow Senator Leila de Lima to join them in the plenary session thru teleconferencing.

Lacson said they have ready equipment for that purpose.

It is the same equipment that the Senate used during then-Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s term when Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was allowed to join the Senate sessions while in detention.

Once the resolution is approved, De Lima will be able to interpellate in the plenary and file her proposed amendments on existing laws.

De Lima, however, will not be allowed to vote as Senate rules dictate that a senator must be physically present in the plenary to vote.

The lady senator, nevertheless, considered this news a welcome development.

“Great news!  Answered prayers. I’ve been longing to be given such privilege so I can more meaningfully fulfill my mandate,” she said.

De Lima’s camp said they still need to seek clearance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) for this.

Atty. Raymond Baguilat, De Lima’s counsel, said: “Ang rules ng PNP regarding sa mga tao sa custodial ayun nga, bawal ang electronic gadget. So, lahat yan kailangan ng approval ng PNP so iaakyat yan kay Gen. Albayalde [Among the PNP’s rules regarding personalities in the custodial facility is that electronic gadgets are not allowed. So, we need the approval of the PNP and this has to be elevated to Gen. Albayalde].”

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Dante Jimenez, however, is doubtful that this will be allowed by the court.

“I’m pretty sure the court will deny that,” Jimenez said.

The Senate Committee on Rules said that it still has to study the resolution before they present it to the plenary for the senators to deliberate and vote on. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Senate to probe on Chinese investments in three islands in Cagayan, Zambales provinces

Maris Federez   •   August 9, 2019

A fisherman repairs his boat overlooking fishing boats that fish in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, at Masinloc, Zambales, in the Philippines April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The Senate seeks to investigate reports that Chinese investors are planning to develop the Fuga Island in the province of Cagayan and the islands of Grande and Chiquita in Zambales.

In a statement, Senator Risa Hontiveros said she is wondering why the government allowed these movements despite China’s alleged bullying practices in the West Philippine Sea.

She added that these islands are no ordinary islands as they have an important role in the military’s history.

“Amid China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea, it is baffling that the Duterte government allowed this to happen. These are no ordinary islands. These parcels of land are strategic maritime fronts that play a significant role in our military history, which only proves how invaluable they are to our national security,” the senator’s statement reads.

Senator Panfile Lacson also pointed, “security concerns dahil kung Chinese investors ang magde-develop at yung proximity dun sa mga facilities. Lalo’t may report na lumabas na yung western command in Palawan merong allegedly Chinese tourists na kumukuha ng pictures so anong intention [security concerns because if Chinese investors will the ones to develop (these islands) and their proximity is in (our military) facilities. Especially now that the Western Command in Palawan has reported that there is an alleged Chinese tourists taking pictures, on what intention]?”

Aside from the three islands, the Senate may possibly discuss the development of the 32-hectare lot of Island Cove Resort in Kawit, Cavite that is to be used by the Philippine Off Shore Gaming Operator (POGO) industry.

This is only several kilometers away from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) air and naval bases. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Mothers of minors allegedly recruited by leftist groups turn emotional at Senate hearing

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Several mothers of missing students who were allegedly recruited by leftist groups turned emotional when they testified and narrated their ordeal before a Senate panel on Wednesday.

Among them were Luisa Espina, Gemma Labsan, Relissa Lucena and Jovita Antoniano who recounted the pain of being abandoned by their children and the changes they saw in them since joining leftist groups like Anakbayan.

According to Espina, her 17-year old daughter, a student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), started not going home when she joined an organization in their school.

They later found out she became a member of the Anakbayan.

“Magmula noong napasok siya diyan sa Anakbayan na yan, nagulo ang utak niya, masyadong magagalitin, kapag dinebate mo siya sa pulitika galit agad siya, kaya di na kami nanunuod ng news sa TV,” she said during a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Public Order & Dangerous Drugs.

Labsan’s 16-year old daughter, a student at the far Eastern University, also left their home when she got recruited to a left-leaning group. She said they found out about it when they saw files about armed conflict and communism on her mobile phone.

“Kinuha ng papa niya ang cellphone niya, nakita po mga files, mga armadong pakikibaka, komunismo po. Nagalit na po kami, nakita ko po dun sa libro duon nakalagay Struggle of Democracy by Joma Sison,” she recounted.

Lucena narrated the same account, saying her daughter left their home after becoming an officer of a leftist organization.

When she did not come home for three days, they reported it to authorities. When her daughter returned home and found out that she went to the police and her school, she even got mad at her mother.

“Sabi niya sa akin full-time na siya siya sa Anakbayan, tapos nung nalaman niya na nagsumbong ako sa PNP at saka sa school, ang sabi po niya sa akin, kalaban na daw po ako,” Lucena said.

“Isipin ko daw na wala na akong anak,” she added.

She said she had tried to get her daughter back home but her efforts were unsuccessful.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it has taken up measures to address the leftist groups’ alleged recruitment of minors in schools, including visitation of campuses every now and then.

It also eyes monitoring teachers who are allegedly requiring students to attend protests in streets.

However, the PUP administration expressed apprehension on issuing a formal order on police visitation in campus.

“Ina-assert po minsan ng faculty o kaya ng ilang estudyante ‘yung mga aktibista na rin na meron silang academic freedom,” PUP president Emmanual de Guzman said during the hearing.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, advised parents to take note of any sudden changes in their children’s behavior and actively monitor their movements in school, whereabouts, and the organizations they are taking part in.

AFP deputy chief of staff for Civil Military Operations MGen. Antonio Parlade also shared some indicators that parents may take note if their children are being recruited to left-leaning groups.

“Marami na silang alibi, marami silang paalam, pupunta kung saan, may field trip duon, sometimes, often these are not sanctioned by school and then organization namin merong pupuntahan. Ito na yung indicators na nagi-immerse na sila, and this immersion, they really meet the armed NPA’s (New People’s Army)” he said.

Based on data from the AFP, at least 513 students have been recruited as combatants by the NPA from 1999 to 2019.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order & Dangerous Drugs, said this report is especially alarming because communist terrorists are recruiting minors as their fighters.

“Alarming in the sense na mga menor de edad ito na dapat nag-aaral. Bakit nasa kalsada? Nabi-brain wash, pinopoison ang utak nitong mga makakaliwa para lumaban sa gobyerno,” he said.

The lawmaker previously cited a statement by the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the Communist Party of the Philippines’ activities to “poison the minds of the children to take up arms against the government,” and teaching them to “join rallies calling for the overthrow of government.”

READ: DILG to Reds: Spare the youth from lies, deception

Dela Rosa said they will give Anakbayan and other left-leaning groups tagged in the recruitment of minors the chance to explain their side on the issue in the next hearing.

He also said that the PNP is now preparing the charges to be filed against the alleged recruiters. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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