Senate approves bill creating Philippine High School for Sports

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020   •   1592

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to create a national high school dedicated for the training and development of future generations of Filipino world champions has been approved on third and final reading, the Senate said Wednesday.

Senate Bill No. 1086 aims to establish the Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) which will offer a secondary course with special emphasis on developing the athletic skills of the students through subjects pertaining to physical education and sports development.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the PHSS would be a world-class educational and athletics facility which is at par with international standards.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, noted that despite the fact that Filipinos love sports, the Philippines has been lagging behind other countries in sporting competitions and events.

He said the Philippines has been joining the Summer Olympic Games since 1924, but Filipino athletes only garnered 10 medals, and not a single gold medal.

Of the 13 Philippine athletes to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he also noted that the silver-medal garnered by Hidilyn Diaz in the women’s weightlifting was the country’s only sport in the podium in any event.

Gatchalian added that Filipino athletes lack the support due them that other countries give to their athletes.

“The end view of this legislation is to unleash the potential of young Filipinos who have shown early potential of excelling in sports for a sports-related career,” he said.

Under the measure, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) will provide the land for the PHSS at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, and will be in charge of the construction of classrooms, dormitories, other sports facilities and related amenities.

The PHSS shall offer full or partial scholarship programs to students who have demonstrated the potential of excelling in sports.

Its students will also be provided with quality secondary education in their chosen tract which shall not be limited to the sports track under the supervision of the Department of Education.

Bill seeking additional powers for Duterte vs COVID-19 filed at Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   March 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to declare the existence of a national emergency and to authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to exercise powers necessary to address the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has been filed at the Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill No. 1413 titled “We Heal as One Act,” seeks to authorize Duterte to realign funds, and investments including unused or unreleased subsidies and transfers, held by any government-owned and controlled corporation or any national government agency.

The bill also proposes to grant Duterte the authority – for a limited period and subject to restrictions – to issue rules, regulations, and directives to address the coronavirus situation in the country.

The measure likewise proposes to grant the president the power to adopt and implement measures to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19, expedite medical testing and observation of persons under monitoring, and the immediate treatment of confirmed virus-infected patients.

He may likewise direct the operations of privately-owned hospitals and other establishments to house health workers or serve as quarantine or distribution areas, as well as order public transportation to mobilize medical workers and other frontliners.

“The management and operation of the foregoing enterprises shall be retained by the owners of the enterprise, who shall render a full accounting to the President or his duly authorized representative,” the bill read.

The proposed measure also states that the president may also take over the operations of the said businesses – subject to limits and safeguards under the 1987 Constitution – if these enterprises “unjustifiably refused or signified that they are no longer capable of operating their enterprises for anti-COVID-19 efforts.

The president may likewise undertake fast procurement or supplies as the need arises including testing kits, personal protective equipment, and other medical devices.

The proposed measure also seeks to authorize Duterte to cancel projects and programs to utilize its funds, realign budget and allocate funds held by any government agency to fund measures against the COVID-19 crisis.

The measure also seeks to ensure that local governments are acting in line with the directives of the national government.

The president will also submit a weekly report to the Congress while a Joint Oversight Committee will be established to determine whether such acts and orders of the President are within the specified restrictions.

The bill, introduced by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Pia Cayetano, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Senate held a special session to tackle the bill on Monday.

Twelve senators, including Sotto, Cayetano, and Acting Senate Majority Leader Sherwin Gatchalian, Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Ralph Recto, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Grace Poe and Francis Tolentino were present during the session.

The session, however, was temporarily suspended as they await the attendance of two more senators to reach a quorum.

Cayetano, who will sponsor the bill on the floor, said she is in the process of consulting the Cabinet officials, and consolidating all the proposed amendments introduced by her fellow senators. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Gatchalian, Binay test negative for coronavirus

Robie de Guzman   •   March 17, 2020

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay

MANILA, Philippines – Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Nancy Binay on Tuesday announced they tested negative for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In separate statements, Gatchalian and Binay both confirmed they are not infected with the virus, and thanked everyone for their prayers, support and encouraging messages.

The two legislators earlier submitted themselves to a voluntary home quarantine after a resource person who later tested positive for the virus attended a Senate hearing they were both in.

The Senate was closed earlier for disinfection, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that the upper chamber will remain “business as usual” to ensure that legislative work would continue even while community quarantine is being enforced.

Gatchalian said that with his negative test result, he is now ending his self-quarantine.

“After submitting myself to a COVID-19 test last Friday, I’m happy to announce today that I tested negative for the virus. Thus, I am ending my self-quarantine,” he said in a Facebook post.

Binay, however, said she will continue to stay home and finish her 14-day quarantine.

“I will still continue with my 14-day quarantine. Hindi pa po tapos ang laban natin kontra sa COVID-19, and we don’t want to have a false sense of security,” she wrote on her Facebook account.

The two senators also called on the public to seriously follow the regulations set by the government, including strict social distancing, practicing of proper hygiene, and home quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of work to be done especially in the middle of this crisis while the number of infected cases continues to rise. We must pool our resources together to fight this dreaded virus. Hinihikayat ko po ang lahat na sumunod sa mga panuntunan na inilatag ng ating gobyerno para hindi na lumobo ang bilang ng mga kaso ng COVID-19,” Gatchalian said.

“COVID-19 is a serious matter. Let’s take the necessary precautions in protecting ourselves for the sake of our families and everyone else,” Binay said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon region under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 12.

The Philippines has so far recorded 142 coronavirus infections with 12 deaths.

Senate under restricted access, senators on self-quarantine after guest tests positive for COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   March 12, 2020

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines has been placed on restricted access to allow disinfection on Thursday (March 12) after one resource person in a recent Senate hearing tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On Wednesday evening (March 11), Senate President Vicente Sotto III set the restriction to begin Thursday until the weekend to allow disinfection of the Senate halls.

“We are playing it safe. Better to err on the side of caution. But let’s not be paranoid. Quarantine period is being observed already by those concerned,” Sotto said in a statement.

“I’m optimistic that there is no real danger in the Senate,” he added.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian who led the committee hearing on March 5, voluntarily went on self-quarantine after interacting with the resource person.

“Though I am asymptomatic and feel healthy, I will follow government set protocols on such cases and go into self-quarantine immediately given that I interacted with the said individual,” Gatchalian said.

“I instructed all my staff to do the same especially those who had direct contact with the said person too,” he added.

Also in a statement, Senator Nancy Binay said: “Following the decision of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to go into self-quarantine, I have likewise decided to take similar precautions and self-monitor for the next 14 days.”

“This is a serious public health matter and I enjoin everyone who came in contact with me in the past week to take the same precautions and observe all the basic hygienic processes,” Binay said.

Binay said she also asked her staff to do the same and take preventive measures.

“With close to 50 people already tested positive, it only shows that the exposure to the virus is real, and there’s a high chance that someone out there is a carrier,” she said.

Apart from Gatchalian and Binay, Finance Chief Carlos Dominguez III and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade as well as Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran all went into self-quarantine.

Dominguez and Tugade both submitted themselves to COVID-19 tests despite being asymptomatic as they also interacted with another COVID-19 carrier last week.

“I was told that a fellow I met with last Thursday and Friday last week has tested positive for COVID-19 today. I have no symptoms but I am self-isolating until I get tested. You may wish to follow suit,” Dominguez said.

Senator Sotto said they will also review the closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) in Senate to determine who were the other people the Covid-19 carrier interacted with. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

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