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)


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