Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jinggoy pushes the enactment of pro-labor legislative agenda on May 9

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, May 1, 2011-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, who is also the concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE) pushes for the enactment of pro-labor legislative measures upon the resumption of Congress session on May 9 as his pledge to the entire Filipino workforce today.

Estrada outlined his three legislative agenda such as the upholding and strengthening the rights of workers to decent pay and benefits; ensuring equal employment opportunities for all; and improving welfare mechanisms for the overseas Filipino workers and their families.
 
As the citizenry are celebrating the Labor Day today, the Senator said that in order to achieve progress and development this reminded us more that human resources are the most important resource in any country; thus, there is a need to strengthen our resolve to take care of them and accord what is due them and their hard work.

Estrada has filed numerous proposals for the just compensation for workers like Senate Bill 812 which provides P125 daily across-the-board wage increase; Senate Bill 760 which increases penalties for non-compliance of the prescribed adjustments in wage rates of workers; and Senate Bill 80 which grants annual productivity incentive to all workers in the private sector.

The Senator’s bill has already been passed by the Senate on third and final reading the Kasambahay Bill which raises the minimum wage for household workers and expands their benefits.

Estrada also intends to address discrimination in employment and had already conducted hearings on the matter.

The Senator explained that gender, indigenous cultural grouping, age, among others need not deter anyone from securing gainful employment. Discrimination in the workplace, despite the guarantees from the Labor Code and the Constitution for equal employment opportunities, still plagues our society.

Among his anti-discrimination bills are Senate Bill 429 which prohibits discrimination against women on account of sex; Senate Bill 556 which promotes equal employment opportunities for indigenous cultural communities; Senate Bill 587 which establishes job training program for mature workers; Senate Bill 930 which prohibits gender discrimination in employment advertising; and Senate Bill 891 which ensures equal opportunities to Muslims and tribal Filipinos.

Estrada believes that the government must lay down better welfare mechanisms for the overseas Filipino workers and their dependents in response to the growing concerns related to overseas employment in aspects of health, remittance and investments, and family setup.

Since the 13th Congress, Estrada is pushing for the passage of creating a Migrant Workers Hospital (Senate Bill 428) and OFW Bank (Senate Bill 648). The OFW Bank is seen to lower cost of OFWs’ financial transactions and to enhance their income generation capabilities as investors, while the OFW Hospital shall provide free healthcare benefits to OFWs and their relatives, adding that to grant a special leave of absence of fifteen (15) days with full pay to all legitimate spouses of OFWs, Estrada also filed Senate Bill 568. (Jason de Asis)

Friday, April 29, 2011

3rd most wanted brothers in Aurora nabbed in Nueva Ecija after 19 years of hiding

SAN JOSE CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 30, 2011-The second and third most wanted men of Baler, Aurora were arrested by the joint operatives of the police of Nueva Ecija-Baler and the Philippine Army in this city after evading authorities for close to 20 years.

Police Superintendent Edgar Alan Okubo, commander of the Provincial Public Safety Company said that the long arm of the law finally caught up with the two suspects identified as Antonio Nartatez, 50, and his brother Artemio, 46, both of Barangay Calabuanan, Baler, Aurora.

Okubo said that the culprits were arrested in their safe houses in the barangays of Culaylay and Villa Marina here by a joint team of the PPSC’s 3rd maneuver platoon, led by Inspector Alexander Reyes, Baler police chief, Chief Inspector Nelson Buhong,  Baler  police station intelligence section team leader PO3 Dennis Lorente  and 81st detachment of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit led by Army Sgt. Gliverio Gonzaga.

The suspects were placed under the custody of the PPSC in Cabanatuan City and will be turned over to the Baler police.

The arresting teams were armed with warrants of arrest issued on July 10, 2000 by then Baler Regional Trial Court Branch 66 Judge Armando A. Yanga for the murder of Leopoldo Pulinada in Calabuanan, Baler in 1992.

Okubo said that the Nartatez brothers have successfully evaded manhunt operations before yesterday’s operations. (Jason de Asis)

2 trucks of IDC with 6,500 board feet logs were temporary held by Casiguran Mayor Bitong

CASIGURAN, AURORA, April 29, 2011-The Industries Development Corporation (IDC) two (2) trucks with 6,500 board feet log on board were temporary held by Casiguran Mayor Reynaldo “Binsu” Bitong, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Menandro Alvarez, AFP, PNP and non-government organization in a checkpoint at brgy. Dibacong in this town last April 28, 2011 in a broad day light in the afternoon.

The trucks reportedly came from the mountainous part of Sitio Kamatis and were said to proceed at the log pan of the IDC when these were held in a check point and thereby allegedly for validation if the contraband were fresh cut.

Authorities are now conducting meticulous investigation if the logging firm violated executive order number 23 of President Aquino for the logging moratorium nationwide.

Relative to this in a phone call to Mr. Michael Ong of IDC reported that the said hot logs have a permit from the DENR and reported that these were old cut logs. “Those were old cut logs,” Ong said, adding that the logs they have seen in the check point were fresh cut from the base of the tree. (Arnel Turzar, CMN-DZJO FM, Baler, Aurora)

Senate varied reactions on Ombudsman Gutierrez’s resignation

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 29, 2011-On Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez resignation, the Senate varied reactions when she met with President Aquino and submitted her resignation letter on Friday.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who first called for Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez’s resignation last March lauded Merci for sparing at the Senate for the long and arduous impeachment process, saying that this is just one small step in the fight against corruption and we mustn’t stop here.

Pangilinan said that we are slowly but surely chipping away from the armor of invincibility surrounding GMA, who has linked the Ombudsman with the series of corruption scandals that hounded the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Now that Merci is out of the way, GMA’s fortress will come tumbling down, and we should use this as an opportunity to make the Arroyo administration pay for its corrupt, twisted ways,” he said, adding that her resignation does not prevent the state from pursuing criminal cases should there be sufficient grounds to do so.

Relative to this, “the resignation of Ombudsman Gutierrez is a fitting act to preserve the integrity of the Office of the Ombudsman. After all, the country’s lead anti-graft agency and its officials should be freed from controversy in order to effectively carry out their mandated tasks,” Senator Loren Legarda said.

“This now brings to a close the impeachment trial. In effect, the government will save a lot of money which can be used for other essential needs of our people,” she said.

Furthermore, our focus will no longer be divided. The Senate can keep its concentration on important legislation.

“But our fight against corruption is something we shall never put to rest. We shall continue to seek ways to make our government accountable, transparent, and responsive to the needs of our people,” she said.

Senator Ralph Recto said that this means that the latest reality TV show gets axed even before the first live episode is aired. We won’t be wearing those togas anymore. But it is a cancellation that both the actors and the audience do welcome. It doesn’t mean however that this is ‘The End’ of this political telenovela because we are speaking here of one person’s resignation and not the termination of the judicial proceedings that the cases will have to go through.  The action simply shifts to the proper forum – the courts – where these cases duly belong.”

Senator Manny Villar said that Gutierrez’s act is expected. This will do the country good, saving time and resources on the part of the Senate. Now, we should move forward and continue working to find ways to help the country in the face of the rising cost of petroleum products and basic commodities. Kung may pananagutan si Gutierrez sa batas, nariyan ang ating hukuman para magpasya dito.”

Senator Bong Revilla said that the resignation of Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez will spare the country from the very tedious and divisive process of impeachment. This will also save time and resources that would have been spent in the process.

“The President now has the room to choose and appoint an Ombudsman who he has confidence in so that we can all further pursue our program against graft and corruption,” he said.

Senator Pia Cayetano said that Ombudsman Gutierrez made the correct decision in finally resigning from office, after months of clinging to her position despite mounting questions about her credibility and criticisms against her performance.

“In the end, her resignation will be good for our country and people. With Gutierrez out of the picture, the Aquino government will now have an opportunity to start on a clean slate to get to the bottom of corruption charges and prosecute the culprits behind the scandals from the previous administration,” she said.

“And now that Congress need not revise its legislative calendar to give way to the impeachment trial, which we had earlier projected to be complicated and long drawn-out, lawmakers can move forward and focus on legislation to address pressing issues, such as worsening poverty and rising cost of living, funding education to plug deficiencies in the public school system, and improving government health services to address high maternal deaths, sickness and malnutrition among young children, and rising cases of HIV-AIDS,” she ended.

Senator Chiz Escudero said that the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has relieved the country, the Senate and even the ombudsman herself of the pain and burden of an impeachment trial scheduled to open on May.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said that the resignation of Gutierrez now renders the impeachment case lodged against her moot and academic, but clarified that it does not give her immunity either from other suits filed against her by other entities.

“If at all, any case filed against her is not for the Senate to oversee anymore. It would have to be the regular courts or the Sandiganbayan itself. This is always a distinct possibility,” Escudero said where he commended Gutierrez for her statesmanship, though belatedly, for considering not only herself but the country in general.

“We have other pressing matters to consider and to focus on such as rebuilding our country and meeting and delivering social services needed. An impeachment trial will take away our time, energy and attention from these important gut issues,” Escudero said.

With Gutierrez's resignation, “I don't think anyone should not be magnanimous after this,” Escudero said, referring to those who hold on to their positions in the public service amid controversies and ill-will. (Jason de Asis)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trillanes appeals to scrutinize first versions of RH Bill before supporting it

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 29, 2011-In the midst of escalating word war between the Catholic Church and advocates of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV has appealed to the public to read first the different versions of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill before supporting or promoting it.

“It would only do little to help educate the public on the issue of RH bill,” Trillanes said, adding that the public are unwittingly supporting the RH bill because they are being led to believe that the measure would control population growth and allow access to contraceptives.

“Contraceptives can be accessed freely now and the Department of Health (DOH) has been distributing contraceptives even without the RH bill. Also, there is no provision in the RH bill that would help control the population,” Trillanes said. However, a controversial provision of the RH bill which should be scrutinized is the inclusion of sex education in the curriculum of preschool and Grade 5 students,” Trillanes added.

The young legislator questioned the readiness of young children to handle a very sensitive subject such as sex, and the capability of our teachers to teach a subject they're not trained for where he believed that only the parents know when their kids are ready to be educated about sex and it's definitely not when they are in Grade 5.

“Are we ready for a scenario wherein kids would one day approach their parents and say, 'Mom, we were taught how to put on condoms in school today?" Trillanes asked.

The Philippine RH bill aims to guarantee access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care where they become the center of contentious debate since it was introduced by Albay 1st district Edcel Lagman on his Reproductive health act and population and development act of 2010 and while Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago introduced Senate bill No. 2378 otherwise known as Reproductive health act.

The two bills became controversial with the experts, academics, religious institutions, and major political figures on both pros and cons where the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) threatened to excommunicate President Aquino III if he insists on his stance that Filipino couples should be given the choice to use artificial contraceptives. (Jason de Asis)

Aurora’s Mt. Falcon proved by 7 advance mountaineers as one of Central Luzon highest peaks and toughest to climb

SAN LUIS, Aurora, April 29, 2011-Professor Leonardo Usita, president of the environmentalist group Noble Blue Falcons International (NBFI) said that seven (7) advance men team of his group conducted reconnaissance mission at Mt. Falcon before the 300 mountaineers and environmentalists from the Philippines-South Korea, among others to trek in this town today.

“Three (3) days before the Philippine International Climb 2011 to save Sierra Madre, an advance 7 men team of Noble Blue Falcons Environmental Mountaineers conducted reconnaissance mission in Mt Falcon,” he said, adding that the advance team confirmed that the 2007 findings of last Blue Falcons expedition report that there was a cell phone signal at the top of the mountain.

Usita also reported that they re-establish that in summer time where the Mt. Falcon can be climbed in 6 hours (uphill), and confirmed that it is one of Central Luzon's most difficult to climb and is a rich biodiversity that needs to be protected.

“The seven advance team already put ribbon markings and wood signs to guide the climbers and established camp sites where the climbers can stay,” he said. Usita identified the team as Vicente Porte, Marlon Dulay, Ruel Villar, Eduardo Sarenas, Dominador Bitong, Mar Tangson and Diojeto Minosa.

“The markings were already established for the success of this mountaineering adventure dubbed as Akyat Kalikasan, in support to save the longest Sierra Madre mountain rangers of the country,” Usita said.

Usita said that the climb for a cause activity will start today from April 29 to May 1 as the culminating activity in a lung-busting hike at the top of Mt. Falcon which at 5,231.60 ft. above sea level is one of Central Luzon’s highest peaks and is considered to be the toughest to climb.

“It is our way of promoting Aurora as an eco-tourism haven,” he said, saying that it is said to be Central Luzon’s stiffest mountain.

He said that the Blue Falcons mountaineers, who have become a global organization, will retrace their roots in Mt. Falcon, Ditumabo here in San Luis, Aurora where it was founded on March 19, 1996 by Sir Edward J. England.

Usita said that the jungle trek to kick off today is a peaceful rally in support to the executive order number 23 of President Aquino’s total logging ban nationwide where he noted that the group has opposed illegal logging in the province for 15 years.

“I assured the mountaineers will also witness the testament of the seven advance team who conducted reconnaissance patrol at Mt. Falcon where they could see the bountiful beauty of the mountains,” he said.

Aside from the Blue Falcons and the south Korean mountaineers, it is expected that the other groups will participate in the activity like the Greenpeace,  Hospital, Philippine National Red Cross, DFA-Katribu climbers, Green Philippines. Among others are the media from the Catholic Media Network-CMN, DZMM, Philippine star, DZRH, GMA7, ABS-CBN, Business Mirror, Esports Daily News, Radyo Natin and Bulgar. (Jason de Asis)



Trillanes bats for speed limit to utility vehicles to lessen Phl deaths and injuries

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 28, 2011-To lessen the number of deaths and injuries on the roads due to over speeding, Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV filed a bill that would require on-board speed-limiting devices for all public utility vehicles (PUVs) where he believes that to have a speed limiting device fitted in their vehicles it would help to reduce speed-related fatal accidents which the number of victim continues to rise over the years.

The senator sponsored Senate Bill No. 2790 otherwise known as the proposed speed Limiters Act of 2011, stating that speed-limiting devices could help save lives since it would limit the speed on PUVs, which are most likely to break
speed limits on fast roads.

Trillanes strongly recommended that legislation obliging operators of PUVs to have that kind of device will ensure safe to all passengers, operators and drivers where 78 percent of the population rely on buses, jeepneys, taxis, trains and tricyles for mobility, and 44 percent of road accidents caused by speeding.

“It is very alarming that World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 2.4 million fatalities died due to road accidents,” Trillanes said, adding that local studies revealed that in Manila alone, almost 50 road accidents occur every day.

Trillanes stressed that by enforcing strict compliance with the mandated speed limits in various streets, highways and thoroughfares, vehicular accidents caused by speeding will be reduced and that lives will be saved.

“I hope that this proposed bill will be supported by my fellow solon in the Senate,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes cited that the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) imposed 60 kilometer per hour speed limit on the 12.4 kilometers thoroughfare which resulted to the dramatic reduction of road accidents along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, adding that almost every week,  Commonwealth Avenue previously gained notoriety as a killer highway because of the great number of fatal accidents taking place on the said road; thus, the Senator believes that installing on-board speed-limiting devices on PUVs would be a step towards the right direction to duplicate this experience not only in Metro Manila but across the country.

Trillanes’ bill of PUVs will be required to bear the cost of the speed-limiting devices where the Senator said that the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) will be tasked to supervise and to inspect the setting up of speed-limiting devices to comply with speed limits corresponding to the maximum allowed in the route plied by a particular PUV.

“DOTC will also be authorized to subsidize deserving PUV owners in the procurement and installation of on-board speed-limiting devices,” Trillanes said, adding that the bill provides that no PUV shall be registered by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) without a properly calibrated speed-limiting device installed.

The bill stated that a fine of P30, 000 and a jail term of up to three years shall be imposed upon those who will be found to have tampered with a duly installed and set speed limiter.

The DOTC, in coordination with the LTO and the Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board will be tasked of the proposed measure in the formulation of the guidelines, rules and regulations of the implementing provisions. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

300 South Koreans and Phl mountaineers to trek Aurora’s Mt. Falcon

SAN LUIS, Aurora, April 27, 2011-Professor Leonardo Usita, president of the environmentalist group Noble Blue Falcons International reported that at least 300 mountaineers and environmentalists from the Philippines and South Korea will embark tomorrow in a bold attempt to conquer Mt. Falcon in this town.

Usita said that the mountaineering adventure was dubbed as “Akyat Kalikasan,” was meant to drum up multi-sector support to save the Sierra Madre mountain rangers, the country’s longest mountain range.

“The climb for a cause activity will start April 29 and end on May 1, culminating in a lung-busting hike atop Mt. Falcon which, at 5,231.60 ft. above sea level is one of Central Luzon’s highest peaks and is considered to be the toughest to climb,” Usita said, adding that the mountain trek is more than just a simple climb.

“Conquering Mt. Falcon is not just an adventure. It is our way of promoting Aurora as an eco-tourism haven,” he said, saying that it is said to be Central Luzon’s stiffest mountain.

He said that the Blue Falcons mountaineers, who have become a global organization, will retrace their roots in Mt. Falcon, Ditumabo here in San Luis, Aurora where it was founded on March 19, 1996 by Sir Edward J. England.

Usita said that the event will also be highlighted by a peaceful prayer rally for the successful implementation of Executive Order 23 issued last February by President Aquino directing a moratorium on cutting of trees in natural and residual forests nationwide, including the province. “In effect, this is a celebration of our victory against logging in Aurora, a battle which we have waged over the past 15 years,” he said.

“I would like to add that aside from Filipino and South Korean mountaineers, also will join in the mountain trek are peace volunteers, hospital personnel, fitness buffs, fire personnel, government employees, religious groups and media practitioners,” he said.

“The Greenpeace, UST Hospital, Gold’s Gym, Philippine National Red Cross, Department of Foreign Affairs-Katribu Climbers , Bureau of Fire Protection, Green-Philippines, Rotary Club of San Juan, Hotel SOGO, ESports Daily News climbers,   Kibbal, Ordo Luminis Legis, St. Mary’s College-QC., CUB’71, Aurora National Science High School, Genesis Bus Trekkers, Bagong Henerasyon Climbers and Christian pastors are also part of this activity,” he added.

The 414,000-strong NBFI, which includes 8,000 green armies in Aurora, have been in the forefront of protecting Aurora’s biodiversity against corrupt local officials, timber poachers, illegal loggers and their financiers. (Jason de Asis)

Sotto law to be amended for the benefit of media practitioner says Sotto III

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 27, 2011-Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto C. III today seeks to amend the law introduce by his grandfather and to continue to be enjoyed by media practitioners in exercising press freedom to include cable and internet-based media exempting them from revealing their sources of information, saying that today’s modern technology and various social networking sites are already being used for faster dissemination of current events where existing laws should be made to conform with the emerging new medium of mass communications.

Sotto III furthered that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and with it, the expansion of coverage of mass media where news and investigative reports are not only broadcast through the print media but also through radio, television, cable and internet.

In his Senate Bill No. 41, Sotto III said that the law was conceived at a time when today’s technology was unthinkable. Nonetheless, the purpose of the law protecting and enhancing the freedom of the press, so as to inform the public of current events and issues that affect their lives, remains relevant and important where he proposed for an amendment to R.A. No. 53 to include responsible personnel from radio, television, cable and internet-based media from the exemption provided by the law to conforms in the fast-changing technology and further protect the freedom of the press.

Sotto III also proposed for an amendment in section 1, to also cover station manager, producer, news director or duly accredited reporter of any print, broadcast or electronic mass media, including but not limited to newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation.

He said that such persons representing media entities in radio, television, cable, internet site and other electronic media outlets, cannot be compelled to reveal the source of their news items obtained in confidence, unless the court or any of the two Houses of Congress or any of its committees finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the State.

In 1946, the late Senator Vicente Yap Sotto authored R.A. No. 53, otherwise known as an act to exempt the publisher, editor or reporter of any publication from revealing the source of Published news or information obtained in confidence. At times they called it “Sotto Law” which was put in place when dissemination of news and investigative reports were not as sophisticated as today. (Jason de Asis)


US-Australia offer technical and financial assistance to Phl disaster preparedness

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 27, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission of Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) yesterday said that the government should take advantage of the technical and financial assistance to develop disaster science and preparedness that the United States and Australian governments are offering.

He said that COMSTE will participate in the event sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command, the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, the Experimentation Center, and the Office of Naval Research Global, adding that 2011 Forum on Post-Disaster Water and Waste Management will bring together the research and development (R&D) and operational communities from the Philippines and the United States in an interactive environment where current technologies and operational needs can be discussed.

“It will focus on water purification, water distribution and waste management (W3M) which are critical concerns during post-disaster Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations,” Angara said, adding that the W3M aspires to provide a forum where stakeholders from the HA/DR operational community can convey their requirements to researchers, and for those researchers to describe their current research projects to the operational stakeholders.

“The interaction is designed to foster the development of more effective HA/DR W3M technologies which may someday support the fielding of portable/mobile systems designed to alleviate the effect of future disasters on civilian populations,” Angara said, noting that the event will help one of the main priorities of COMSTE, which is the expansion of the Philippine Disaster Science Management Center (DSMC).

He said that the Australian government has also committed P 720 million to help the country implement a disaster risk management plan on the local level, saying that the announcement was made by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), which has also launched a book entitled, “Rising to the Call”, which documents ideal practices in disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation on the 21 provinces of the Philippines.

“The DSMC is needed to help us to prepare for the earthquakes and similar disasters that will continue to threaten the country, noting that the government needs to be able to understand how to develop an advanced and real-time information dissemination strategy so people can better prepare to handle such events.

DSMC will also house a training center that will focus on scenario-type learning utilizing technology for disaster mitigation and management. He said that Taiwan and Japan are already actively cooperating with training of local experts for situations like floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. It will also help the scientific community to better understand the mechanics of managing disasters with the cooperation of neighboring countries that have experienced similar storms and natural calamities like the country. (Jason de Asis) 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Escudero bats GSIS to study on pension system for all uniformed personnel

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 26, 2011-Senator Chiz Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security bats the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to conduct a study for all uniformed personnel on the rationalization of pension system.

“Pension contributions by uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Coast Guard are managed by different retirement and benefits systems; therefore, the rates are not par with their service,” he said, adding that uniformed personnel are government employees ever since and it makes sense that GSIS handles their pension system.

Escudero furthered that the GSIS has the expertise on this matter and the actuarial study they are currently doing will augur well for an informed analysis of the pension system and its viability.

“The AFP's pension system is being handled by the military's built-in insurer Retirement Service and Benefit System, while police personnel are getting better returns compared to their uniformed counterparts,” he cited and explained that he wants to put in place a mechanism that would give uniformed personnel a consistent and rationalized pension rate that equate with the value of serving in uniform.

Since 2010, the data being used by the GSIS in their actuarial study has been provided by the Senate defense and security committee from a series of hearings and meetings conducted. (Jason de Asis)

Umali ally named new prexy of Ecija mayors’ league

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 26, 2011-A close ally of Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali has been named the new president of the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, ending the long leadership vacuum marred by factionalism and power struggle among member mayors over the past several months.

Penaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, a first-term mayor, received a vote of confidence from 24 of the 27 municipal mayors who gathered at a local restaurant here Thursday to elect a new set of officers. 

Abesamis is a brother of Board Member Edmund Abesamis and provincial administrator Al Abesamis.

Abesamis’ election ended months of a leadership stalemate caused by the resignation of Umali’s erstwhile political ally, Gen. Tinio Mayor Virgilio Bote who quit the presidency of the league shortly after being voted by fellow mayors.

Abesamis, a lawyer and a former fiscal, said he will serve as league president without borders, meaning, he would deal with fellow mayors irrespective of their party affiliations. “Under an Abesamis presidency, I will see to it that political fences and walls that divide will be torn down and destroyed,” he told newsmen.

Prior to Abesamis’ election, the league was rocked by a protracted squabble and controversy when a faction from the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija of the Josons led by San Antonio Mayor Arvin Salonga held its own election and refused to join the majority bloc led by Bote. The leadership crisis worsened when Bote suddenly resigned shortly after getting elected president.

Because of the leadership vacuum, there were several instances when Nueva Ecija was not represented in various fora of the LMP and it was not included in the roster of the league’s national directorate.

Abesamis said the new leadership is boosted by the expression of support from among Balane mayors themselves, including Mayors Francis Steven dizon of Guimba, Willy Domingo of Licab, Nerito Santos of Talavera, Levy Santos of Gen. Natividad and Salonga himself.

“Majority of our member mayors, notably from Balane spoke of unity and that’s what we will pursue under my leadership,” he said.

He said one of the development agenda of the provincial LMP will be the conduct of educational exchanges among the member local government units and adoption of common developmental goals, programs and policies. (Jason de Asis)

Enrile lauded Finance Secretary Purisima’s move to form climate finance group

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 26, 2011-On the issue of climate change, finance Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lauded Department of Finance (DOF) Cesar Purisima’s move to form and lead the Climate Finance Group (CFG) in the executive branch in the collaborative leadership displayed recently by the DOF and the Climate Change Commission (CCC).

Enrile said that CFG should start with the right ambition and sense of urgency and hoping that it can cover efforts to establish national risk-transfer and catastrophe insurance mechanisms, review ill-advised climate change loans and secure funding for the country's climate change action plan.

The Senator praised Purisima in giving his personal attention on climate finance, saying that the chairmanship of the DOF over the executive's Climate Finance Group is a sign that steps will now be taken to arrest the governance chaos prevailing over the administration of climate finance that has entered country coffers.

“Although the country's priority climate change response should be adaptation, more money has flowed to mitigation activities, which is the main responsibility of the world's top polluters. Worse, funds that went to adaptation have come in the form of loans, which is unacceptable,” he explained, adding that the climate change is an issue of tort. A compensatory framework governs this issue and we need to leverage finance that addresses our country's priorities, not the plans of rich nations.

Last October, a landmark measure that sought to establish the people’s survival fund (PSF) for local government units (LGUs) and communities were filed by Enrile under senate bill 2558, stating that the PSF provides incentives for early climate action from localities, which can tap the fund if it formulates local climate adaptation plans based on vulnerability and development assessments.

It also stated that to address rising sea levels, or to promote agricultural programs resilient to extreme temperatures, severe precipitation or persistent flooding, the PSF can be used by LGUs with coastal communities.

The Senator singled out the efforts of Climate Change Commission Vice Chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering, who led negotiations that secured for the Philippines a seat in the Transitional Committee, a body tasked to design the rules of the global Green Climate Fund, or GCF that was established last  December in the international climate negotiations held in Cancun, Mexico.

Enrile said that the collaboration of Secretary Purisima and Secretary Sering are consistent with the kind of leadership demanded by President Noynoy Aquino in response to the climate change crisis.

The Senate President called on the DOF and the CCC to support the early passage of the PSF to make sure local communities can keep pace with efforts to mainstream climate change into national operations.

“The GCF is expected to manage at least $100 billion in annual funds pledged by rich countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation activities. The Philippines was formally made a member of the Transitional Committee at the recently concluded Bangkok round of climate talks,” Enrile explained, saying that the membership in the Transitional Committee is vital to the national interest.

“With the right design, the Philippines will be eligible to tap the fund, adding that we can put in place direct access modalities that lessen the need for financial intermediaries; thus, reduce transaction costs,” he ended. (Jason de Asis)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

5 kids drowned in Nueva Ecija-Aurora last Black Saturday

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 25, 2011-Police authorities reported that five youngsters drowned when they swam in rivers in Nueva Ecija and Aurora last Black Saturday.

In Nueva Ecija, the police identified the victims as Jeff Alquizal, 12, and Francis Valmonte, 10, both of Jaen, Nueva Ecija Ansly Constantino, 8, and John Vincent Marcos, both of San Leonardo town.

Senior Supt. Roberto Aliggayu, provincial police director said that three of those who died were found floating along the river in Barangay San Anton, San Leonardo at around 12 noon Saturday.

Constantino was declared dead-on-arrival at the Gonzales District Hospital by attending physicians an hour after he was found.

Initial investigations disclosed that three of the kids swam in the river accompanied by a 17-year-old sister of one of the victims even if they didn’t know how to swim. Police said they were swept by strong currents.

In Aurora province, a certain Michael Angelo Orpiano, nine years old, was declared dead-on-arrival at the Aurora Memorial Hospital after drowning in Sitio Amper, Barangay Gupa, Dipaculao town.

Senior Superintendent Jojo Gumban, the new Aurora provincial police director reported that Orpiano was with his parents having a picnic underneath the Amper bridge when he suddenly went missing. None of the family members noticed that he was swept by the strong currents. They only learned of it when they called out for him to eat lunch.

A witness, Eddie Rebueno said that the boy apparently was driven to a deep side of the river and because he could not swim, got drowned.

Amper is a popular tourist destination but it has also gained notoriety reportedly because every year, many reportedly died due to drowning. (Jason de Asis)

Angara urged the government to ensure delivery of health services in the Phl

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 25, 2011-Senator Edgardo J. Angara who authored Senate Bill No. 2629, the Community Health Delivery and Health Team Placement Act which seeks to establish Rural Health Centers in every town and barangay has urged the government for the creation of more health centers in the countryside to ensure the delivery of health services where he believes that it would dramatically decrease the high infant mortality rate nationwide.

Angara said that at least four medical professionals Local Health Unit should be manned to improve access to basic health facilities, infant and mother mortality rates in the countryside may be reduced.

He said that that his bill which is known as “An Act Establishing a Responsive Local Health Unit in Each City and Municipality to ensure delivery of primary health services and to provide a mechanism to ensure the placement of required health personnel in these Local Health Units and other government operated health facilities has been referred to the Health and Demography after the First Reading.

He added that more than 2 million babies are stillborn each year throughout the world and about half could have been prevented with proper health care during the pregnancy according to Lancet, a global medical journal, adding that most of these stillbirths were caused by delivery complications, infections, and congenital abnormalities.

“Unfortunately, this is common in developing countries like the Philippines. Due to the dearth of health care facilities and qualified medical professionals in the province, expectant mothers skip regular checkups which might detect curable and preventable illnesses in the unborn baby,” Angara said. (Jason de Asis)

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