Saturday, September 29, 2012


MANILA, September 29, 2012-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada sponsored twin measures which seek to strengthen workers’ right to organize and be represented in policy-making process.
Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, pushed for the enactment of Senate Bill 2921 or the proposed Act Strengthening Tripartism.
Tripartism refers to the representation of workers and employers sectors in decision and policy making bodies of the government. Through tripartism, employers and workers on the one hand representing their respective interests, and the government on the other, representing the interest of the public, help shape economic policies and programs of the government.
The bill seeks to define the tripartism structure by establishing Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils in the national, regional and industry levels with representatives from the government, workers and employers to serve as a continuing forum for tripartite advisement and consultation.
In his sponsorship speech last week, Sen. Estrada cited that one the weaknesses of the tripartism in the Philippines is the lack of a well-defined criteria for nomination and selection of sectoral representatives in various tripartite bodies.
“This is remedied by Senate Bill 2921 by incorporating into law twenty labor and employer representatives each per sector which shall be designated by the President at regular intervals and the nomination and selection procedure observing the ‘most representative’ organization criterion of ILO Convention 144 or the Tripartite Consultation Convention,” Jinggoy further stated.
Sen. Estrada also pressed on the approval of Senate Bill 2838, or the proposed Act Further Strengthening Workers’ Right to Self-Organization, which aims to remove the minimum membership requirement for registration of independent unions which is perceived as a prior restraint on the worker’s right to self-organization.
Article 234 of the Labor Code currently requires any applicant labor association or group of workers to submit, among others, the names of all its members comprising at least 20% of all employees in the bargaining unit where it seeks to operate, to be registered as a legitimate labor organization. 
In addition, submissions of applications for registration of labor organizations may be done via internet to the appropriate DOLE regional or field office, thereby making the process efficient and accessible. The processing of applications for registration will also be accomplished in one (1) calendar day instead of thirty calendar days, as specified in the Labor Code, making registration expeditious.

Legarda Lauds Intl Award for 2010 Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act; Enjoins Heightened Reef Conservation Efforts

MANILA, September 30, 2012-In light of the Silver Future Policy Award bestowed on the Philippines by an international jury for its 2010 Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, Senator Loren Legarda expressed high hopes that the Philippines will soon set the world standards for environmental conservation.

“We must build on this success in the Tubbataha Reefs, implement similar programs where applicable, and re-strategize our conservation efforts based on successes in order for us to establish our country as one of the frontliners in the fight to save our marine ecosystems,” she said.

Legarda, co-author of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, noted that according to the award-giving body and international policy research organization World Future Council, the Future Policy Award aims to raise awareness for exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies.

“We should be proud that out of the nominated thirty-one policies from 22 countries around the world, we ranked among the top three. Marine scientists revealed that only five percent of the country's coral reefs remain in good condition. This achievement proves that with heightened awareness, effective strategies, and concerted efforts, we will be able to change the fate of our seas, and consequently, the future of our people,” she stressed.

Namibia was likewise bestowed a Silver award for its Marine Resources Act of 2000, while Palau took the top prize for its Protected Areas Network Act of 2003 and its Shark Haven Act of 2009.

“I believe that we are on our way. We must thus intensify our efforts to make all Filipinos realize the benefits of restoring and conserving our coral reefs, so that we will have more allies in protecting them from the many threats that cause them irreparable damage. The environment is threatened by the times, by the pressures of modern society, by our very species.”

“We must work in coordination with the DOST, academic research institutions, local government units, and stakeholders especially those living in coastal areas, to reverse the trend of destruction and give rise to healthy seas and a sustainable means of development," she concluded.

Friday, September 28, 2012


MANILA, September 29, 2012-Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks to institutionalize conciliation and mediation processes as expeditious and inexpensive mode for settlement of labor disputes.
Senate Bill 2918, principally authored by Sen. Estrada, aims to amend the Labor Code to statutorily recognize and put into law the existing policy of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on conciliation-mediation services.
Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, says that the proposed measure is in consonance with Section 3, Article XIII of the Constitution providing for the preferential use of voluntary modes in settling disputes, including conciliation.
National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), an attached agency of the DoLE, defines conciliation as “a mild form of intervention by a neutral third party, the Conciliator-Mediator, relying on his persuasive expertise, who takes an active role in assisting parties by trying to keep disputants talking, facilitating other procedural niceties, carrying messages back and forth between the parties, and generally being a good fellow who tries to keep things calm and forward-looking in a tense situation.”
Mediation, on the other hand, is referred to as “a mild intervention by a neutral third party, the Conciliator-Mediator, whereby he starts advising the parties or offering solutions or alternatives to the problems with the end in view of assisting them towards voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the dispute.”
The DoLE issued Department Order 107-10 last October 2010 and introduced the Single Entry Approach (SEnA). Since its implementation, DoLE says that they were able to receive 50,577 requests for assistance regarding employer-employee disagreements. From this figure, 24,533 were settled with total monetary benefits amounting to P1,214,920,484.07 covering 36,767 workers.
DoLE also stated before the labor committee hearing that the policy has effectively declogged its quasi-judicial arm and appropriate offices, prevented issues from becoming full-blown labor disputes and greatly reduced the litigiousness of labor conflicts, especially of small money claims.
The conciliation-mediation services are carried out and terminated within the prescribed 30-day period. Meanwhile, Single Entry Approach Desk Officers (SEADOs) were able to settle requests for assistance within an average of 19 days.
Termination or suspension of employment issues, money claims, intra- and inter-union issues, unfair labor practice, and OFW cases can be subjected to conciliation-mediation, according to SENA guidelines.
In his sponsorship speech Sen. Estrada cites, “The advantages of employing conciliation-mediation in resolving disputes, backed by the accomplishments under the SEnA Program, only show that conciliation-mediation is indeed a practical, desirable and promising method of alternative dispute resolution.”
“Conciliation-mediation is also used in full-blown disputes such as actual strikes or lockouts and in disputes that have already been assumed or certified for compulsory arbitration, to exhaust all possible remedies and explore solutions mutually acceptable to both parties,” Sen. Estrada further states.
Data from the DOLE show that five assumed cases by the Secretary of Labor in 2011 were settled through conciliation, benefitting some 2,201 workers. Since 2010 and up to the end of 2011, a total of 40 cases with petitions for assumption of jurisdiction were settled through marathon conciliation-mediation rendering unnecessary the issuance of assumption orders, providing relief to 3,993 workers.


MANILA, September 28, 2012-Over a hundred local officials from Region 8 yesterday took their oath as members of the Nacionalista Party, the country's oldest political party.
Nacionalista Party President Senator Manny B. Villar led the oath-taking rites at the Leyte Park Hotel convention center in Tacloban City, Leyte.
In his speech, Villar said that the Nacionalista Party will continue to be a dominant party in the country with 5 senators, 30 congressmen, 10 governors and more than 200 mayors. The exodus of local elected officials to Villar's NP continues a week before the filing of certificates of candidacy for those running in next year's mid-term polls.
Among those in attendance were Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, wife councilor Cristina Romualdez and Eastern Samar Vice-Gov. Christopher Sheen Gonzales. Romualdez and Gonzales were among the early recruits of NP.
Incumbent Guiuan, Eastern Samar  Mayor Analiz Kwan who is eyeing a seat at the House of Representatives and Samar Vice Gov. James Tan were among  those sworn in by Villar as new Nacionalistas.
Villar however stressed that the party is not bent on recruiting new members from other political parties while strengthening its grip on the country's political arena. "We have a rule to follow. We don't just recruit. Our political mantra that is 'bayan muna bago ang sarili' should be strictly adhered by our members".
Villar will end his term next year and fielded his wife, former Congw. Cynthia Villar to join the senatorial bandwagon together w/ NP's other bets Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes.
Villar also stressed that the possible face-off of  the LP/NP/NPC coalition's local candidates will be addressed by the coalition's arbitrary committee. "Pero kung hindi na talaga mapipigilan ang banggaan ng coalition candidates sa local level, we will declare the area as free zones. May the best man wins na lang".

Legarda Urges LGUs to Learn from Previous Disasters and Build Back Better,Cites Saint Bernard Experience

MANILA, September 28, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today urged local government units to learn from previous disasters and build back better as what the people of Saint Bernard in Southern Leyte did after the deadly landslide that occurred in one of their barangays in 2006.

“It was six years ago when the world saw one of the worst disasters of our time happen in Brgy. Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard. But the people of Saint Bernard pulled together to rise from the debris. Today, the Saint Bernard LGU works in partnership with a host of local and international organizations, for capacity building programs, livelihood and resettlement projects, disaster preparedness, and community-based early warning systems,” she said.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, co-organized the National Conference for Effective Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Practices, an initiative of the European Union, with the Municipality of Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte, CARE
Nederland, German Development Cooperation, and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Green Development.

Legarda, also the UN Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, added that Saint Bernard has recovered so well from the disaster that their Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council was this year’s 1st place winner of the Gawad Kalasag Award given by the Office of the Civil Defense Region 8.

“The Saint Bernard experience is a clear example of how every disaster can become an opportunity to build back better and restore normalcy in people’s lives with a stronger sense of hope and confidence for the future,” she remarked.

The Senator also reported that the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) bill, which she principally sponsored, was signed into law last August, giving better access to resources for those who combat the effects of climate change, especially in the grassroots.

“Republic Act No. 10174, the amendatory law to the Climate Change Act of 2009, will bring into fruition climate change strategies, plans, and programs within the context of local, community-based realities,” she said.

“The best choice is to make our nation disaster-resilient to free us, once and for all, from the exhausting and costly cycle of rebuilding our communities every single time nature unleashes its wrath. This National Conference is one more step towards a safer, more resilient Philippines,” Legarda concluded.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


MANILA, September 27, 2012-Dimitri Vlassis, Chief of the Corruption and Economic Crime Section Division for Treaty Affairs in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) will visit Manila for the 5th Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) Conference hosted by the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) and the Philippine Senate. The conference will be held at PICC from January 30 to February 2, 2013. 

In Mr. Vlassis's paper on Transnational Organized Crime, he says that there is a clear connection between corruption, money laundering, and organized crimes. He explains, "Money laundering is a vital component of all forms of organized crime. The infiltration of legal financial markets and the attempts of organized crime to control sectors of national economies through the laundering of its illicit proceeds continue to represent grave threats to the international community and to both national and international financial systems." The problem of corruption is a globalized one, and the response should be at both the local and global level. 

GOPAC, the only anti-corruption organization composed of parliamentarians, has a Global Task Force (GTF) specific to Anti-Money Laundering. This Anti-Money Laundering Global Task Force (GTF-AML) works with anti-money laundering experts and organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), UNODOC, Interpol, the Egmont Group and Transparency International. It conducts workshops for member-lawmakers to help them advance better legislation against money laundering and other corruption-related offenses. 

In the Philippines, President Aquino ratified two laws last June as part of the administration's anti-corruption thrust namely the measure strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. These laws will help the country comply with the international standard set by the FATF of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  

"Money laundering vs. Bank Secrecy Laws" is expected to be one of the hot topics at the GOPAC Conference. The conference is expected to attract over 200 parliamentarians and 300 observers from over 46 countries.

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MANILA, September 27, 2012-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan says that political parties looking to coalesce with the Liberal Party are welcome, as long as they know who's in charge.

“For as long as it is understood that they, too, will support the anti-corruption and anti-poverty agenda of the President, then they have a seat in the table. Having said this, it should also be very clear to our coalition partners that it is President Aquino who sits at the head of the table and it is his reform agenda that is to be pursued. The moment any of our allies become stumbling blocks to reforms then it would be time to part ways.”

Pangilinan continues, “Nelson Mandela once said that in a democracy we need to learn to work with people we dislike, in reference to those who in the past supported apartheid. For as long as we are all clear that it is the President who calls the shots, then it is incumbent upon the LP to build the broadest unity possible among various political forces willing to lend their support to the President's reform agenda.”

Constitutional agencies pass Senate budget hearing, except Comelec, says Drilon

MANILA, September 27, 2012-All agencies that belong to Constitutional and Fiscal Autonomy Group (CFAG) successfully sailed through Senate Committee on Finance budget hearing, except for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) whose budget is still yet to be approved.

The said Senate panel approved recently the 2013 proposed expenditures of three CFAG agencies: the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) which has an allocation of P1.72 billion under the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget; the Commission on Audit, P8.1 billion; and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) with P932.59 million, said its chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

“The Ombudsman budget is 26.94 percent higher than its 2012 outlay of P1.35 billion, and a bulk of which, P1.39 billion, is for personal services to hire more lawyers to speed up disposition of cases,” said Drilon.

“There are currently 11,000 criminal and administrative cases pending before the Ombudsman requiring swift and determined action. Hence, to ensure speedy disposition of these cases now swamping the anti-graft agency, the Office has embarked on the recruitment of 100 qualified and competent lawyers to beef up its present staffing complement,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales told Drilon during the hearing.

The COA budget, on the other hand, is 15.72 percent higher than its current allocation amounting P7.0 billion; whereas, the CSC budget is P160.9 million bigger from its 2012 budget of P771.68 million, explained Drilon.

The Comelec, meanwhile, failed to have its budget amounting P8.42 billion approved even after three hearings already conducted by the committee.

“I am hoping that in the fourth hearing of the Comelec budget, the inquiries and concerns of Senator Allan Peter Cayetano will finally be addressed by Chariman Sixto Brillantes Jr.,” Drilon said.   

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9 dead, 9 injured in 3 vehicle smash-up in NE

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija, September 26, 2012–Nine persons, including all three drivers and a couple, died whole nine others were injured when a tanker collided with two other vehicles along the national highway in an ill-fated vehicular accident in this city early this morning.

          Police identified the fatalities as Leoncio Pajarillo, 39, and his wife Evangeline Pajarillo, 41, both of Villa Javier, Bantug, Munoz; Donatella Aquino of Maguinling, Piat, Cagayan; Sylvino Marzo of Banitbet, Bagabag, Nueva Viscaya; Ryan  Camaging of 186 Roosevelt, Quezon City;Marife Cale Bondoc, of Tamza, Cavite; and three other unidentified female passengers.  

They were all brought to the Muñoz Funeral Parlor for autopsy.

Injured were Rolando Cotanes, of Maguinling, Piat, Cagayan; Maria Rowena Dacanay of Pugoncino, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya; Arthur Antonio Solinas, 45, of Sta Maria, Nueva Vizcaya; Juan Lima Taguilan, 70, of Enrile;   Araceli Medina; Jone Audalang; Arthur Calinas of Sta Maria, Isabela; Elvino Bajinang of Juan Cagayan and Alama Sansano of Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya.

They were brought to hospitals in San Jose City, Munoz and in Cabanatuan for treatment.          

The accident took place at around 2:30 am yesterday along the Maharlika Highway at Purok Curva, Barangay Bantug here when the three vehicles : a Honda motorcycle, an Isuzu truck gasoline tanker and a Victory Liner bus collided with each other.

Initial police investigation said that the bus, with license plate CWR-195 and driven by Camaging was travelling to Cabanatuan City when it lost control and hit the motorcycle from behind. The motorcycle, with license plate YZ-5358 and driven by Pajarillo fell by its side.

When Camaging turned the bus’ steering wheel to its left, it collided with the gas tanker (license plate CWR-195)  driven by Marzo head-on.

The impact of the collision rendered the two vehicles a total wreck.

          Others who sustained only minor injuries or were completely unhurt went on with their travel to their destination.

DENR exec in NE sacked for “unauthorized’”release of typhoon-uprooted trees to furniture shop

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, September 26, 2012–A community environment and natural resources officer (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been relieved from his post Monday for allegedly illegally releasing 92 pieces of felled trees uprooted by two typhoons to a furniture shop and sash factory without prior authorization from higher authorities.

          Relieved in Special Order 299 issued by DENR regional executive director for Central Luzon Maximo Dichoso was Joselito Blanco, CENRO of the DENR-Cabanatuan.

          Blanco was placed on floating status at the DENR regional office in Barangay Maimpis, City of San Fernando in Pampanga. He was replaced by CENRO-Talavera Samuel Danganan whose post was taken over by Juan Fernandez Jr.    

          Blanco’s relief arose after Dichoso issued him a show-cause memorandum last August 30 ordering him to explain why he should not be charged administratively and criminally for disposing of the uprooted trees felled at the height of typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel.”

          Dichoso said Blanco illegally disposed of the trees, with a volume of 167 cubic meters at South Salabuyo, Barangay Bugnan, Gabaldon town by entering into an unauthorized memorandum of agreement (MOA) with AVV Furniture Shop and Sash Factory (FSSF).

          The agreement was supposedly for the purpose of retrieval and disposition of the trees.

          Dicho, in his memorandum, told Blanco that the latter failed to conduct a prior inventory of the trees, did not submit a report thereof and did not seek clearance for its disposition from higher authority.

          “These acts and omissions may constitute gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, dishonesty and act grossly prejudicial to the interest of the service, contrary to the existing laws, rules and regulations.

          Blanco, in his notarized sworn affidavit submitted to Dichoso denied the allegations against him. He pointed out that the agreement he entered into with AVVFSSF was not a MOA but a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and this was executed on May 8, not May 18 as reported.

          He said that contrary to claims he failed to conduct an inventory, he had rendered an inventory report of the uprooted trees.

          On claims that he did not seek clearance for the disposition of the trees from higher authorities, he said he personally consulted Dichoso’s predecessor Ricardo Calderon regarding the retrieval of the trees.

          He said he informed Calderon that the uprooted and damaged trees pose a “great risk” as it could accumulate and clog the narrow waterways in the area.

          Blanco denied his supposed acts and omissions, adding these could not have constituted gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, dishonesty and act grossly prejudicial to the interest of the service since he exerted “all my earnest effort to uphold my duties and obligation.”

          He pleaded with Dichoso that if his acts may have been overlooked, these should be considered which he said, he believed he did in good faith and in accordance with the interest of the public at large.

          Blanco said the trees were put to good use because they were utilized as construction materials for school buildings, classroom and school armchairs in the town of Gabaldon, benefitting the community, including schoolchildren.

          “My initiative is also in response with the policy of DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to provide assistance to the Deped (Department of Education) for the improvement of their school facilities,” he said in his affidavit.

          But Dichoso was far from convinced. He said Blanco failed to satisfactorily explain what authority he had in disposing the trees.

He said Blanco was also being linked to illegal logging operations in his jurisdiction. (Manny Galvez)      

ARMM in dilemma over P2.15 billion unpaid premiums, loan amortizations, says Drilon

MANILA, September 26, 2012-The current administration of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is in a quandary regarding the payment of unpaid and unremitted contributions and loan amortizations to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) to the tune of P2.15 billion, said Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

Of the amount, Drilon said, only P907.06 million corresponds to unpaid shares in premium and loan amortizations, while a bigger portion of P1.24 billion refers to interests that accrued over the years due to the non-and late payments.

“This is a ghost of the past that continues to haunt us. This is a manifestation of how the past administration and the past leaders of ARMM remissed in their obligations to the public,” said Drilon who also chairs the Senate Committee on Finance that reviews the country’s proposed expenditures.      

“The interests would continue to balloon if the problem is not settled at the soonest time. The interests would accumulate to a point that it has already surpassed the principal amount like where it is now, and to a point where the government budget will only go to the payment of interest rates,” said Drilon.

Drilon vowed to look into the problem which he described as “a source of disappointment and burden for teachers and retired personnel of the Department of Education in the ARMM.”

"This sorry scenario continues to frustrate our teachers in the ARMM because they could not avail of their GSIS and Pag-IBIG benefits like housing and salary loans due to the discrepancies in the premiums," stressed Drilon.

Drilon said that based on the document submitted to him by ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, the discrepancies in the contributions to the GSIS started in 1997. A memorandum of agreement was entered into in 2004 in a bid to settle the dispute.

However, it is only in 2006 that the Congress was able to appropriate P250 million for the payment of unpaid contributions, but only P127 million was released by the Department of Budget and Management and which the GSIS applied to both the principal and the interest, explained Drilon.    

He also said that there appears to be a misunderstanding between the DepEd-ARMM and the DBM and the GSIS insofar as the payment of interest rates is concerned.

Of the P2.15 billion, Drilon said, P877.25 million and P213.15 million refer to unremitted contribution to the GSIS for the period 1997 to 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Another P877.24 million corresponds to unremitted loan deductions for 17 months within 2001 to 2004. Also, P243.83 million is for the unremitted contributions and loan amortizations to the Pag-IBIG Fund. 

The DepEd-ARMM owes the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA) an amount of P31.93 million which corresponds to the unremitted loan payments for the period of April 2003 to September 2005, noted Drilon.

Lastly, P160.39 million is being charged by the GSIS for delayed payments.

“The situation merits an investigation. It has to be settled before a similar case blows up in our face,” said Drilon.

Hataman, meanwhile, has vowed to go after the officials responsible for the mess.

This has resulted in demoralization among teachers in the ARMM. According to ARMM-DepEd Secretary Jamar M. Kulayan, “they received less than the amount actually due them for retirement because their creditable service was reduced corresponding to the actual number of their unremitted contributions and are receiving lesser monthly retirement benefits.” 

 Summary of unremitted contributions and amortizations of DepEd-ARMM

Period Covered
 Total (P)
Unremitted contributions to the GSIS
1997 to  2003
Unremitted loan deduction
2001 to 2004
Unremitted contributions to the GSIS
Penalty for delayed payments
2003 to 2011
Unpaid Pag-Ibig contributions and amortizations
2001 to 2006
2003 to 2005


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