Sunday, March 6, 2011

ASEAN Leaders need to Prioritize Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation says Legarda

Hanoi, Vietnam, March 7, 2011-To avert further losses of lives and livelihoods from disasters, Senator Loren Legarda, Chairperson of the Philippine Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, urges the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prioritize disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in national development agenda.

In addressing high-level officials of the Government of Vietnam led by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai at the Second National Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation held in Hanoi, Legarda said that we cannot content ourselves with merely reacting to disaster events that claimed countless of lives, ruined properties, and left lingering effects on people’s livelihoods and the environment; thus, there is a need to protect our development gains from the regressive impacts of disasters, adding that in order to win against disaster climate change there is a need to be proactive.
Legarda noted that the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the United Nations Regional Coordinating Mechanism (UN-RCM) agreed to prepare the ASEAN-UN Strategic Plan of Cooperation on Disaster Management for 2011-2015 which shall cover risk and vulnerability assessment, preparedness and early warning, among other disaster risk management activities where the 3rd ASEAN-UN Summit was held in Hanoi, Vietnam last October.

Legarda said that if national leaders govern with commitment, responsibility, and accountability to bring about a safer and more resilient society the rising trend of disaster risk can be stopped, adding that climate change has already made its effects in our region like extreme weather events, stronger typhoons, heavier rains, severe floods, and devastating droughts have become recurring events, a common concern for many countries in Asia.

She furthered that the ASEAN member-states, based on what was agreed upon at the ASEAN Summit, must actively collaborate and pursue efforts to build disaster and climate-resilient communities within the region, saying that if national leaders consider risk reduction not as a cost but a wise investment disasters can be prevented.  

Legarda added that no conscientious leader would want to see the poor and most vulnerable constantly drawn back by disasters into abject poverty for lack of government action and no responsible politician would want the government to waste millions on public infrastructure that can be instantly destroyed by earthquakes and floods.

The Senator was invited in Hanoi to share the 2009 Climate Change Act and the 2010 Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act that she authored and sponsored and now considered legislative models by the UNISDR and the Inter-Parliamentary Union for other nations to emulate.

Legarda revealed the UN report that Asia is the world’s most disaster prone region, saying that the Asian people are four times more likely to be affected by disasters caused by natural hazards than those in Africa; and 25 times more likely than those in Europe or North America. (Jason de Asis)

Senator Loren Legarda discussed integrating risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the 2nd Natonal Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the Sheraton Hotel in Ha Noi, Vietnam. The UNISDR Regional Champion for Asia and the Pacific was invited by Vietnam government where she shared the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 that she authored. (Jason de Asis)
Senator Loren Legarda met the Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai at the 2nd National Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the Sheraton Hotel in Ha Noi, Vietnam. (Jason de Asis)

Drilon eyed new law to regulate plea bargaining agreement

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 7, 2011-Amidst the irregularities uncovered in the highly controversial plea bargain agreement forged between state prosecutors and a former military comptroller accused of plunder but was later charged with lesser offenses, Senator Franklin Drilon, a former justice secretary proposed a new set of policy that would govern plea bargaining agreement in the criminal cases under Senate bill No. 2732 otherwise known as Plea Bargaining Act of 2011.

Drilon filed the said bill following the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s sixth round of inquiry into the plea deal by former Gen. Carlos Garcia, who was allowed to post bail despite glaring evidence and testimony exposed in the chamber’s hearings.

“There should be a clear cut law that would establish a formal policy implementation of plea bargaining agreements,” Drilon said, explaining that without legislation, individuals accused of grave offenses like plunder would just enter into a plea bargain with the prosecution even without the consent of the offended party.

Drilon furthered that the proposed legislation would form part of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon committee that allows a plea of the accused in a criminal case to a lesser offense with the consent of the offended party, in a move that trails the Garcia case grossly disadvantageous to the government part.

He said that during or after the presentation of the prosecution evidence, the prosecution may enter into plea bargaining with the accused with the consent of the offended party, but before the presentation of the defense evidence, and in no case after the dismissal by the court of a demurrer to evidence, the following conditions must be provided and presented such as the evidence of the prosecution is insufficient to prove the offense charged beyond reasonable doubt; in cases involving the recovery by or restitution to the offended party of property in crimes against property and those committed by the public officers in relation to public funds such as, but not limited to, the crime of plunder, graft and corrupt practices, bribery, and malversation, the accused makes a full restitution of the property or public funds involved; and in cases of conspiracy, the accused fully cooperates in the prosecution of principal conspirators responsible for the commission of the offense charged who are the most guilty, including in the provision of documentary, object and testimonial evidence, in the event that the accused has not yet qualified as a state witness in accordance with the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

“When there is no private offended party in the offenses charged,” Drilon said that the party whose consent is necessary shall be the People of the Philippines as represented by the prosecution, the Republic of the Philippines as represented by the Office of the Solicitor General and the government agency represented by the Solicitor General responsible for the enforcement of the law violated by the offense, adding that if the penalty imposable for the offense charged is prison mayor or six years and one day imprisonment, or higher, or a fine exceeding P12,000, the plea bargaining agreement shall first be approved in writing by the city prosecutor, provincial prosecutor or the prosecutor general in criminal cases handled by the National Prosecution Service, the Ombudsman in cases handled by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, or the head of the agency in the case of other agencies authorized to prosecute criminal cases, before it is submitted to the court for approval. Without the written approval of the respective approving authorities the plea bargaining will not be allowed.

Drilon, who is a staunch critic of the Garcia plea bargain who strongly urged the Ombudsman to drop the motion to approve the plea bargain before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court explained that the guidelines setting will ensure that the process does not become a mere vehicle for diluting the gravity of the offense charged against the accused, for destroying the deterrent value of the law intended to prescribe the offense committed or for creating opportunities for graft and corrupt practices.

Drilon noted that there are instances that a plea bargain is needed but there should be check and balance, adding that a fine ranging from Php6,000 to Php60,000 to any violation with the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months and one day up to six years shall be the punishment. (Jason de Asis)

COMSTE to boost Phl electronics and semiconductors industry-Angara

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 7, 2011-To boost the competitiveness of the Philippine electronics and semiconductors industry through integrated circuit (IC) design, the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) is pushing for the establishment of the Industrial Research and Development Institute (IRDI).

The IRDI is modeled after a similar institute in Taiwan, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which is credited with creating an environment for industry and government to partner which in turn helped Taiwan become a technology leader.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, said that the project was conceptualized after studying Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), which was a key factor in Taiwan’s economic success, a model we want to replicate here.

“IRDI will be a Public-Private Partnership that is industry led model. As envisioned by the COMSTE Electronics and Semiconductors panel Government and academe can support R&D initiatives in the institute,” Angara said, adding that COMSTE is currently working with a worldwide industry leader in IC design to establish a training center that would be available to colleges and universities.

The training center shall have access to the facilities and personnel that are currently employed by the IC design company where the training modules for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty would also be provided by the company.

“The guidance of an industry of the leading company enables the universities to develop circuits that would have an end use industry,” Angara said, and that it would enable engineers to develop skills necessary to enter seamlessly into the workforce and eventually set up their own startup companies.

Students from De La Salle, Ateneo, Mapua Institute of Technology and the University of the Philippines have expressed their interest to take part in the IC design training. (Jason de Asis) 

Trillanes meets Samahang Magdalo Visayas Chapter

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 6, 2011-At least 18 chapters of the Samahang Magdalo Visayas chapter convened yesterday led by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV at Cebu International Convention Center, Cebu City until today.

Since Trillanes was released last December after seven years of incarceration, Trillanes personally thanked them for helping him won in the last 2007 senatorial election, saying that this is the first time that Trillanes convened with members and volunteers of the Samahang Magdalo.

The said convention served as a venue to discuss local concerns and identify solutions to forward the welfare of the people in the Visayas.

Trillanes said that the Magdalo firmly believes that the only way toward achieving its vision of peaceful, progressive and prosperous country is to have a united, responsible and empowered citizenry; thus, the group has decided to open its doors to all people from all walks of life who shared the same dreams and aspirations for the love of the country.

The Visayas convention is the first of a series of meetings the Magdalo plans to hold, as preparations are under way to hold gatherings in Luzon and Mindanao.

The Samahang Magdalo was established last November 28, 2008, a socio-civic organization and well known group of reformist officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Magdalo is a national movement that advocates good governance and social justice where its vision is to have a peaceful, progressive and prosperous country with a united citizenry.

It was founded by a group of reformist officers and men of the AFP who upheld their constitutional mandate as the protector of the people and the state, bravely fought the alleged corrupt and oppressive Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime where it’s members were eventually incarcerated for their conviction and yet after several years of detention, they remain steadfast in their belief that the Filipino people deserve a better government. (Jason de Asis) 


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