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Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”

“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.

Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.

“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.

“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.

 “It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.

He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”

Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.

“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.

The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.

It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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Senate commends Pacquiao for win vs Thurman

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution commending boxing legend Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao for his victory over Keith Thurman.

The adopted Senate Resolution No. 20 takes into consideration the resolutions filed by Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr., Juan Miguel Zubiri, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay and Richard Gordon.

Pacquiao clinched the World Boxing Association (WBA) World Welterweight title when he bested Thurman in their fight held in Las Vegas, Nevada last July 21.

The resolution said Pacquiao should be honored for bringing “immense pride and joy to Filipinos the world over with his accomplishments as a boxer.”

“Outside the area of boxing, Senator Pacquiao has excellently fulfilled his constitutional duties as a Senator of the Republic, faithfully performing his functions as an outstanding public servant,” it added.

In reply to the commendation, Pacquiao thanked his colleagues for their support.

He said his latest win showed he can still put up a good fight with someone who is 10 years his junior.

“The abilities and skills I have are given by God. I believe that ability, skill and responsibility has a purpose and that purpose is to inspire the Filipino people to rise above their limitations and overcome their circumstances,” Pacquiao said.

With this purpose in mind, the lawmaker said he will continue his boxing career.

“There are many who say that there won’t be another Manny Pacquiao. But I believe that we have many boxers who are just waiting for an opportunity, waiting for our help. It is high time for us to invest on our boxing talents who are loaded with potentials. The so-called diamond in the rough can just be around the corner,” he added.

He also called on his fellow senators to support the proposed creation of the Philippine Boxing and Combat Sports Commission, which he believes would pave the way for the Philippines to be known as the boxing and combat sports capital of Asia.

“I am ready to work with all of you in overcoming the challenges in the 18th Congress. Together as champions of the Filipino people, we shall emerge victorious and continue our fight for the country,” Pacquiao said.

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At least 16 measures pushed by Duterte could pass Senate – Sotto

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least 16 measures pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address (Monday)could be passed in the upper chamber of Congress, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday.

Sotto said that majority of the proposals that Duterte mentioned in his speech could easily hurdle the Senate. These include the implementation of Magna Carta for Barangays, the National Academy for Sports for High School, the establishment of Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Water Resources, Salary Standardization Law for Teachers and other government personnel, the Coco Levy Bill, the National Land Use Act, Mandatory ROTC Bill for Grades 11 & 12, the postponement of Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Elections, the Expansion of Malasakit Center, Fire Protection Modernization Bill and Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers & Plunder.

“Marami doon sa mga binanggit niya kakayanin talaga namin. As a matter of fact, nakikita ko, at least 16 sa mga sinabi niya malaki ang pag-asang mapasa lahat,” Sotto said in a radio interview.

The Senate President further said that although he supports Duterte’s call for the creation of new departments, he said it would be better to pass a law right-sizing the government to streamline government systems and services.

“Ayusin muna natin yung right-sizing. Kasi kung hindi tayo magra-right-sizing, blinow-up lang natin yung bureaucracy lalo. So, kung magra-right-sizing tayo, mababawasan yung mga departamento, na mga iba-t-ibang napakaraming departamento ng gobyerno ng maraming empleyado,” Sotto said.

(Let’s first work on rightsizing the government. Because if we don’t rightsize first, we will just blow up bureaucracy more. If we right-size, we would reduce the number of redundant departments, various agencies with too many employees.)

Among the measures mentioned in Duterte’s SONA, Sotto said the reimposition of death penalty for drug traffickers and plunder would face the strong opposition and lengthy debates.

“Tinitingnan ko yung listahan, pinakikinggan ko kahapon, puro talagang kayang-kaya at talagang dapat. Kailangang-kailangan. Yung lang reimposition ng death penalty siguro ang mahaba ang debate,” he said.

(I will look into the list. When I was listening to the speech yesterday, the bills he mentioned could easily pass in the Senate. The reimposition of death penalty may go through lengthy discussions.)

“If its confined to high level (drug) trafficking it stands a good chance to be as quicker or it can be passed in the Senate ngayon because of the mention of plunder, hindi maganda sa amin sa mga senador at sa mga congressman na hindi pumayag na hindi isama, kailangang isama, otherwise takot kami sa plunder,” he added.

(Senators and congressmen won’t look good if we exclude plunder. We need to include it, otherwise it would seem we are afraid of plunder.)

Former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for his part, believes that passing heavier penalty for plunder would deter government officials from engaging in corrupt practices.  

“Kung pumasa ito, maaaring ikatakot ng mga magnanakaw sa gobyerno,” Go said.

(If this gets approved, it may deter corrupt government officials from committing plunder.)

For Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, the hardest among the challenges laid out by Duterte in his SONA is the liberation of six million Filipinos from poverty.

“This is the Six Million Challenge that confronts us all. It is the overarching Priority No. 1. It is the most demanding because it means 2 million of our countrymen must graduate from dehumanizing existence every year, if the objective is to uplift them within the next three years,” he said in a statement.

Recto added that even if the government would succeed in the Six-Million Challenge, there will still be about 15 million poor waiting to be liberated at the end of 2022.

“If there is one goal that should energize us, and consume our every waking hour, this is the one. This is a tall order that calls for a combination of solutions and the cooperation of all,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva, on the other hand, said he is inclined to look into Duterte’s proposal to include teachers in the next salary standardization law.

“Teachers play a critical role in shaping the hearts and minds of our youth. We need to make their efforts more rewarding so that they are kept motivated to fulfill their duties,” he said in a statement.

Villanueva also vowed to work with the President in his goal to provide comfortable lives for Filipinos at the end of his term.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, lauded Duterte for his speech that focused on matters of progress, peace and prosperity.

Angara added that he will not belabor the president for omitting other issues as it is impossible to cram all of the country’s problems in one speech.

“Hindi naman isang linggong pabasa ang SONA. What is important is that he talked about the things many of our people want to hear from him. It is a well-curated address,” he said in a statement.

He also said that after Duterte’s annual report to the nation, lawmakers and concerned agencies should “react with deeds.”

“It should be back to work for all of us,” he said.

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Neophyte Senators get key committees in Senate

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

The Senate of the Philippines released on Tuesday (July 23) its first batch of elected chairpersons for different committees this 18th Congress.

  1. Agriculture & Food – Sen. Cynthia Villar (retained)
  2. Blue Ribbon Committee – Sen. Richard Gordon (retained)
  3. Constitutional Amendments & Revision of Codes – Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (formerly chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon)
  4. Economic Affairs – Sen. Imee Marcos (formerly chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian)
  5. Energy – Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (retained)
  6. Finance – Sen. Sonny Angara (formerly chaired by ex-Senator Loren Legarda)
  7. Foreign relations – Sen. Koko Pimentel (formerly chaired by now House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano)
  8. Games & Amusement – Sen. Lito Lapid (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  9. Health & Demography – Sen. Bong Go (formerly chaired by ex-Sen. JV Ejercito)
  10. Labor, Employment & Human resources development – Sen. Joel Villanueva (retained)
  11. Local Government – Sen. Francis Tolentino (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  12. National Defense & Security – Sen. Panfilo Lacson (formerly chaired by now DICT chief Gringo Honasan)
  13. Public Information & Mass Media – Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. (formerly chaired by Sen. Grace Poe)
  14. Public Order & Dangerous Drugs – Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa (formerly chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson)
  15. Public Services – Sen. Grace Poe (retained)
  16. Public Works – Sen. Manny Pacquiao (retained)
  17. Social Justice, Welfare & Rural Development – Sen. Leila De Lima (formerly chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar)
  18. Tourism – Sen. Nancy Binay (retained)
  19. Ways & Means- Sen. Pia Cayetano (formerly chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara)
  20. Women, Children, Family Relations & Gender Equality – Sen. Risa Hontiveros (retained)

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to announce the chairpersons for the following key Senate Committees:

  1. Accounts
  2. Agrarian Reform
  3. Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies
  4. Civil Service and Government Reorganization
  5. Climate Change
  6. Cooperatives
  7. Cultural communities
  8. Education
  9. Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation
  10. Environment and Natural Resources
  11. Ethics and Privileges
  12. Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
  13. Justice and Human Rights
  14. Peace, Unification, and Reconciliation
  15. Rules
  16. Science and Technology
  17. Sports
  18. Trade and Commerce
  19. Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement
  20. Youth

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