Saturday, June 4, 2011

Phl to host GOPAC 2013 conference against corruption

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, June 5, 2011-After the Senate steering committee hearing, Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the country will be hosting the 2013 Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) conference here in Manila  where Malacañang manifests full support with the same mission  on strong anti-corruption policy.

“GOPAC is an international network where its mission is perfectly fit with the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption policy. The global community also recognizes us that we are serious about stamping out corruption,” Angara said, adding that there are more than 900 parliamentarians from over 90 different countries dedicated to good governance and combating corruption under GOPAC.

Angara reported that about 300 to 500 international parliamentarians are expected to attend. About a quarter of the participants will be from the Philippines but the bulk of the guests will fly in from abroad where the three-day conference has been scheduled tentatively for January 31 to February 1 and 2 to include workshops, forums and plenary meetings.

GOPAC's Philippine Steering Committee involves stakeholders from government agencies, private sector, nongovernmental organizations and academe where the participants are Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara; Sen. Franklin M. Drilon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance; former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban; Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, also the SEAPAC secretary; Tourism Assistant Secretary Domingo Ramon Enerio; and Atty. Tess Herbosa, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Other members of the steering committee are Dean Marivic Leonen, UP College of Law; Dean Cesar L. Villanueva, Ateneo Law School; Dean Antonio A. Agustin, MLQU College of Law; Dean Amado D. Valdez, University of the East College of Law and president of the Philippine Association of Law Schools; Atty. Avelino V. Cruz, founding partner of ACCRA Law; Atty. Raoul R. Angangco, senior parter at CVC Law; Atty. Roan Libarios, president-elect of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and Dr. Georgina R. Encanto, president of Transparency International-Philippines.

Aside from SEAPAC, GOPAC's other active regional chapters are in Latin America (LAPAC), Arab Region (ARPAC) and Africa (APNAC), and they are all expected to join the Manila conference in 2013. 

Angara is the Asian representative in the GOPAC executive board as well as the founding president of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), one of the active regional chapters and was elected as GOPAC's vice-chairman during the conference held in Mexico City Last March 11 to 13. (Jason de Asis)

Senate approved bill for state workers retirement benefits immediate release

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, June 4, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes senate bill 2748 that seeks the expeditious and timely release of benefits, pension and gratuities of government workers retiring from the service has unanimously approved on third and final reading here in the Senate by the 18 senators who voted for its approval.

No one cast a negative vote on the proposed measure which was principally authored by Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV wherein the bill calls for the release of retirement benefits within a 30-day period, except for benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that would be released on the last working day of the retiring government employee.

“As of second quarter of 2010, our Government is still the largest employer nationwide with some 1,312,508 employees. Sadly, it is sometimes referred to as the employer of last resort due to uncompetitive pay schedule and minimal promotion opportunities compared to the private sector,” Trillanes lamented, saying that our colleagues in the government service soldier on, toiling and laboring with salaries and benefits barely enough to meet their personal and family needs.  

“This is unacceptable, they spend the best and most productive years of their lives serving the public and the country despite the Spartan pay and measly benefits they receive, often foregoing more lucrative opportunities in the private sector,” Trillanes said, citing the case of public school teachers, who are underpaid and overworked.

“They are the molder of our youth whose hands lay the future of the country, we rely on them serving elections often with great risks to their lives and well-being and yet, we pay them a salary barely enough to meet the basic needs of their families,” he added, saying that often times, when these public servants retire, they are made to wait for unreasonable periods, sometimes years, before they are paid their modest retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other benefits which are really offensive.
“In recognition of their many years, if not decades of faithful, loyal and dedicated service to the government, we have to ensure retiring government employees to receive their retirement pay, pensions, gratuities and other retirement benefits immediately or at least within a fixed and reasonable time after their retirement, adding that they should not be made to wait, much less grovel and beg, for what is actually due them under the law,” Trillanes said.

The Senator added that there is a need to penalize officials who would cause undue delay on the release of these benefits, saying that these erring officials after hearings and due proceedings shall be subjected to administrative disciplinary action and to be penalized with suspension from service without pay from six months to one year at the discretion of the disciplining authority, except in cases of force majeure and other insuperable cases.

“Some agencies violated the law due to lack of penal provision punishing the agency for its non-compliance that’s why we should put teeth into our existing law for better enforcement of its provisions,” Trillanes ended. (Jason de Asis)


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