Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
In a resolution issued last week, the Comelec, sitting En Banc, approved the date of the plebiscite to December 1 with only registered voters of the city allowed to participate in the exercise.
The resolution was signed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Lucenito Tagle, Armando Velasco, Elias Yusoph and Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca. Commissioner Christian Robert Lim is on official business.
Copies of the resolution were forwarded to Comelec regional director for Central Luzon Zoilo Perlas Jr., Nueva Ecija provincial election supervisor Panfilo Doctor Jr. and
city election officer Michael
Earlier, the poll body denied the petition of Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali to allow all qualified voters in the whole
to take part in a plebiscite that will
ratify the proclamation of this city into a HUC. province of Nueva Ecija
In his petition, Umali said Novo Ecijanos will be affected once
becomes HUC and
thus, it is imperative for them to participate in a plebiscite that would
ratify Presidential Proclamation 418 declaring the city as such. Cabanatuan
Umali filed a verified motion for reconsideration which was also denied by the poll body.
Velasco has been designated Commissioner-in-charge of the plebiscite.
In fixing the date of the plebiscite, the Comelec approved the recommendations of deputy executive director for operations Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. to use the August 2012 list of voters and adopt the clustering of precincts scheme used in the October 2010 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Reacting to the denial of his petition, Umali, a lawyer, said there is already existing jurisprudence, foremost of which is a July 11,1986 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Tan vs Comelec regarding the creation of a new province of Negros del Norte wherein 2,768.4 square kilometers from the land area of the parent province will be removed to create a new province whose boundaries will be substantially altered.
He mentioned the separate concurring opinion of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee who stated that to limit the plebiscite to only the areas to be partitioned and seceded from the province is “as absurd and illogical as allowing only the secessionists to vote for the secession that they demanded against the wishes of the majority and to nullify the basic principle of majority rule.”
Another case in point, he said, the October 19,1992 ruling in Padilla Jr. vs Comelec which stated that when the law states that the plebiscite shall be conducted in the political units directly affected, it means that residents of the political entity who would be economically dislocated by the separation of a portion thereof have a right to vote in the said plebiscite.
“Evidently, what is contemplated by the phrase “political units directly affected,” is the plurality of political units which would participate in the plebiscite,” Umali stressed, quoting from the ruling.
Umali said this is not the first time the issue of who should vote in the plebiscite is raised before the Comelec, citing the first case was Antipolo City’s own HUC bid wherein Rizal Gov. Casimiro Ynares III raised the same arguments.
The Law Department of the Comelec, Umali recalled, found basis in the contention of Ynares and officially opined that the conduct of the plebiscite must include the qualified voters of Rizal. (Manny Galvez)
MANILA, October 30, 2012-In light of the massive weather disturbances caused by Superstorm Sandy in the East Coast of the United States, Senator Loren Legarda urged government leaders to draw lessons from the effective disaster preparedness measures undertaken by the New York City government.
“As early as October 26 in New York, Mayor Mike Bloomberg already announced that the city was taking necessary precautions. Modes of public transportation like the subway were closed shortly after, and residents were told to stay inside their homes. By October 28, tunnels and bridges were already closed and all flights going in and out of the area were cancelled. This level of alertness should also inspire other US government officials to prepare, if not for Sandy then for the subsequent weather disturbances that are certain to occur as we witness the worsening effects of climate change,” she stressed.
Legarda also cited the level of disaster preparedness of the Federal Government and State Government of New York.
Sandy, categorized as a post-tropical storm, is dubbed the strongest weather disturbance experienced by the region in 27 years, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph or 130 km/h. Hurricane force wind warnings, storm surge warnings, and high wind and blizzard warnings have all been raised for the East Coast and surrounding areas. It is expected to make landfall on October 29, local NY time.
“Mayor Bloomberg's sense of urgency and swiftness of action should be emulated by all our public servants. Working together, our meteorologists, weather scientists, national and local officials, and other leaders, can all prevent massive losses of lives and property by simply being prepared,” said Legarda, the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.
“The US’ experience with Sandy shows us that while such a massive force of nature is frightening and unstoppable, we can drastically reduce our losses by combining the latest technology, the most up-to-date information, and effective and efficient public warning systems. Ultimately, we must take responsibility for each other, and we must use all our resources to do so,” Legarda concluded.
MANILA, October 30, 2012-Fifteen years after the passage into law of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), Senator Loren Legarda today underscored the importance of the law in the protection of the country’s indigenous communities and the traditional knowledge and practices they live by.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that IPs continue to be deprived of many of their rights, but with better implementation of the provisions of IPRA, many of their concerns can be addressed.
“Our indigenous peoples have shaped our story as a Filipino people—our music, arts and dance, our native knowledge and skills, our deeply held beliefs, our creativity, our sustainable ways of living with our physical environment and most important, our self-worth. Despite these overwhelming contributions, we have admittedly underwhelmed them as opportunities, services and share in decision-making, that are embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights law, have yet to be fully accorded,” she stressed.
The Senator said that most leaders of various IP communities in the country have raised the concerns of their groups during the three regional assemblies and the first National Indigenous Cultural Summit that she organized in 2011.
“In the IP Regional Assembly in Luzon, IP leaders called for the effective implementation and harmonization of the IPRA, mining and environmental laws, and policies of the government; while the indigenous communities in Mindanao stressed the need for the implementation of the provision of the IPRA that requires LGUs to appoint IP representatives in policy-making bodies and legislative councils,” she explained.
Moreover, in the IP Assembly for the Visayas region, an IP leader raised the issue on the need to harmonize conflicting policies and programs on land ownership that go against the spirit of the IPRA.
“While it is true that we still have a lot to do in order to fully accord our indigenous brothers and sisters the recognition and protection they need, we have to give the laws we crafted, especially the IPRA, a chance to be fully implemented. Government must faithfully implement the provisions of the law in order to protect our culture bearers and to improve their quality of life,” Legarda concluded.
Monday, October 29, 2012
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, October 29, 2012-Over a hundred riders with Import Commodity Clearance (ICC)-marked helmets held a motorcade around the City of San Fernando on Friday in a bid to encourage the public to patronize quality motor gears.
The event was part of the concluding activity of the 2012 Consumer Welfare Month (CWM) celebration in Central Luzon which carried the theme “Get Organized. Be Heard. Be Empowered.”
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Information Officer Wilfred Carbonell said “this year’s CWM celebration, which our agency is hosting, aims to be an avenue in the interaction among consumers, retailers and government institutions on issues relative to the quality of construction materials and motorcycle helmets.”
Carbonell added that “Section 6 of Republic Act 10054 otherwise known as the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 mandates DTI to be the lead determinant in the quality of helmets out in the market.”
Under the law, all riders including the backriders are obliged to wear ICC-marked helmets in order to curb the rising number of deaths in motorcycle accidents that is frequently caused by the absence or substandard protective gears.
RA 10054 does not cover tricycles and other similar modes of transportation such as pedicab.
Based from the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations that was released recently, all helmets to be sold beginning 2012 must bear the ICC mark.
Carbonell likewise said “for motorcycle riders whose helmets were purchased prior to 2012, they are required to go to the nearest DTI office to obtain the ICC sticker.”
DTI will be processing ICC sticker applications for free until December, 2012.
Land Transportation Office will begin to implement the new measure on January, 2013 where stiffer penalties await violators. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)
Sunday, October 28, 2012
MANILA, October 29, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today challenged the government and all local communities to aim for zero casualty in the succeeding typhoons that will hit the country, noting that the recent Typhoon Ofel has left at least 27 people dead when it ravaged several provinces in the country.
Legarda, the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Asia-Pacific, said that the country is still expecting at least six more typhoons in the next two months.
“As we expect more typhoons that could be stronger and more devastating, our national and local action must promote disaster prevention with ‘zero tolerance’ as a mindset and approach. We must bring to an even heightened level and aim to have no casualties for the succeeding typhoons,” she stressed.
Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that in order to reduce the adverse effects of typhoons, concerned agencies both from the national and local governments should come up with disaster preparedness action plans, ensure that all canals and drainage systems are cleaned up and no families live in high-risk areas, release frequently updated advisories and ensure that areas expected to be affected are prepared--activate all forms of early warning systems, set up evacuation centers, evacuate families living in landslide-prone and flood-prone areas.
“All sectors must work together. The government must make our laws work and carry out programs that would improve disaster preparedness of every community. The private sector, on the other hand, must strengthen their business continuity plans, especially for hospitals and other lifelines, which are vital for post-disaster activities,” she explained.
“The public must be more aware of the disaster risks in their midst and do something to protect lives and property way ahead of any typhoon and other natural hazards,” she added.
The Senator noted that the government already has ongoing programs—National Greening Program, the Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) and the Geo-Hazard Mapping Project—that could very well make the country disaster-resilient.
Continuous protection of the environment is crucial in defending communities from disaster risks; the Geo-Hazard Mapping Project will ensure that homes and livelihoods are not placed in high-risk areas, as identified in the maps; while Project NOAH plays a crucial role in the dissemination of disaster risk warnings down to the barangay level.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
MANILA, October 27, 2012-Twenty distressed overseas Filipino workers from Dubai, United Arab Emirates are coming home Monday afternoon through the assistance extended by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada.
Sen. Estrada shouldered the airfare of the 20 household workers who ran away from their employers after they were subjected to overwork, physical and verbal abuse, and other forms of maltreatment.
They are: Mary Chell Afable, Lariza Arceo, Janet Bentero, Jonnalyn Belmosao, Rowena Carao, Anabel Cortez, Maida Esmael, Sittie Mariam Gudal, Cherry Lyn Larosa, Mary Joy Mangad, Nerissa Molleda, Jelleny Morabe, Maria Malaya Padilla, Diana Lou Publico, Maria Leni Regino, Noraida Sambutuan, Bariya Lipai Sawaldi, Michelle Torio, Angelina Uyammi, and Clarence Viscarra.
All of them are expected to arrive in Manila on Monday, October 29, 4 o’clock pm via Emirates airlines, with Sen. Estrada.
Sen. Estrada learned of the cases of distressed migrant workers awaiting repatriation in Dubai from Ambassador Grace Princesa as he made a stopover to the Philippine Consulate-General in UAE, before heading to Vatican City to attend the canonization rites of the second Filipino saint, San Pedro Calungsod.
“As per Labor Attache Delmer Cruz, an estimated 1,000 Filipino migrant workers abscond from their visa sponsors (also employers) every year. And almost everyday there is a new case of maltreatment, especially of our household service workers,” Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, laments.
Common complaints include overwork, physical abuse, lack of food and rest, and unpaid salary. 90% of the complaints received by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) come from domestic workers.
The runaway OFWs seek temporary shelter in the facilities of the POLO, as the embassy and labor officials arrange their travel and employment documents and negotiate with their respective employers to allow them either to work elsewhere or to go back to the Philippines. The process could take up months depending on the cooperation of the employers and nature of their case.
For instance, Lariza Arceo, 29 years old from Parañaque City, was admitted to the Migrant Workers and other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFWRC) last August 5.
Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that UAE ranks second to Saudi Arabia in terms of number of land-based new hires and rehires. In 2010, there are 201,214 land-based workers deployed to UAE.
UAE, which ranks third next to Hong Kong and Kuwait in terms of number of deployed household service workers, is host to 13,184 Filipino household service workers.
“Domestic workers are really the most vulnerable sector of our labor force to abuse and exploitation, here or abroad. Many OFWs, about a hundred of them, are still waiting for repatriation there pending the release and approval of their papers. I urge the administration to further intensify its efforts to assist the OFWs in distress and ensure their safety and protection,” Sen. Estrada states.
Friday, October 26, 2012
MANILA, October 26, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today said she looks forward to stronger bilateral and security cooperation between Australia and the Philippines following President Benigno Aquino’s official visit to Australia where he met with Prime Minister Julia Eileen Gillard.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also said that the Philippines’ ratification of the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) with Australia, which the Senator sponsored, will further enhance bilateral defense and military cooperation between the two countries.
“Australia is the largest bilateral grant aid donor to the Philippines. Since 2001, Australia has extended aid investment of around Php32 billion, while defense assistance is estimated at PhP1.16 billion. With President Aquino’s official visit to Australia, we are hopeful that this will open more areas of cooperation and bolster defense and security cooperation between our two countries,” she stressed.
Legarda explained that Australia has programmed approximately USD235 million aid for 2010-2012. It assists the Philippines in developing capacities in the field of disaster risk reduction and management such as in the Project Enhancing Greater Metro Manila's Institutional Capacities for Effective Disaster/Climate Risk Management towards Sustainable Development or the READY project. This strengthens institutional capacities of local government units and national government agencies to manage disaster and climate change risks.
Meanwhile, the SOVFA is intended to enhance cooperation on maritime terrorism and other security threats. It defines the rights as well as the responsibilities between the visiting forces and the host government on such matters as criminal and civil jurisdiction, claims, entry and exit of personnel and property, movement of vessels, aircraft and vehicles and carrying of arms, among others.
“The SOVFA also contains a unique provision on environmental protection, thus assuring us that local environmental laws will be observed in the conduct of exercises. As conceived, joint activities may also cover joint training on marine resource protection, sea search and rescue operations, disaster relief operations, and other civic action projects,” she pointed out.
“Today's security challenges require that we strengthen our defense posture through a regime of cooperation with allies with whom we share strategic security interests. Fostering strong defense relations with partners, through SOVFA, is a good defense strategy anchored on national interest, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the right to self-determination,” Legarda concluded.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
QUEBEC, Canada, October 25, 2012-Various Philippine Senators underscored the importance of anti-corruption and good governance initiatives in achieving developmental objectives at the ongoing 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) here in Quebec, Canada.
The legislators, who are all members of the Philippine Delegation, relayed this message before various delegations and bilateral meetings, highlighting the importance of government reforms particularly in terms of transparency and accountability.
During the meeting with all member countries of the ASEAN and the larger Asia Pacific Group (APG), Senator Edgardo J. Angara explained the nexus between development and corruption and highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in terms of curbing corrupt practices in Asia.
“In 2025, Asia will become the center of global production. But in order to reap the gains of that demographic window, we ought to work together in cleaning our governments and in preparing our institutions for such progress,” said Angara, Chairperson of the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC).
Angara likewise met separately with the leaders from Myanmar and Germany to encourage them to lead anti-corruption work in Asia and Europe, respectively.
Speaking in front of a delegation of 22 Latin American and Carribean countries, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. then explained the importance of fighting corruption to developed and developing countries alike.
“This is a problem shared by countries—developed or developing. And we must work together as parliamentarians to address this issue in our respective regions,” encouraged the Senator.
Later, Senator Teofisto Guingona echoed the same message to the 14 countries from the Middle East in attendance. Guingona was positively received by the group and gained support from members of the different delegations for the anti-corruption advocacy.
Angara, Marcos and Guingona joined Senator Franklin Drilon, Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 127th IPU Assembly representing the Senate of the Philippines. During the meetings, the Philippine Delegation actively encouraged fellow parliamentarians in attendance to come to Manila for the 5th Global Conference on Anti-Corruption in January 2013.
With the theme "Good laws. Good leaders. Good Citizens," the Conference, hosted by the Senate of the Philippines, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), and the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), is expected to draw 500 parliamentarians all over the world to Manila.
The group also met with Mr. John Williams, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the GOPAC, himself a former IPU Delegate as Senator of Canada, to discuss preparations for the upcoming Manila Conference, as well as how to further the role of the Philippine legislators in anti-corruption work in the region. (Rikka Sotto)
MANILA, October 25, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today urged all Filipinos to share in the celebration of Eidul Adha or the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice.
“Tomorrow (Oct. 26), the whole Filipino nation will join our Muslim brethren in commemorating the Eidul Adha, by virtue of Republic Act 9849. As we observe this special Muslim occasion, we must also understand its significance to the Islamic Faith so that we can create a better understanding with our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Legarda.
“I have always hoped that in a Catholic-dominated nation such as ours, we can go beyond familiarity of Muslim religious holidays and move towards deeper respect and understanding among us Filipinos regardless of faith or religious belief,” she stressed.
The Eidul Adha signifies the end of the Islamic Pilgrimage to Mecca wherein Muslims pay homage to the Prophet Ibrahim’s supreme act of sacrifice. Ibrahim’s love and obedience to Allah was put to a test when he was asked to offer his beloved son, Ishmael. Ibrahim willingly surrendered to the perceived commandment and Allah was pleased. When Ibrahim was about to sacrifice Ishmael, a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead.
“This story is the same with that of the Christian story about Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God. Now that the whole nation will be commemorating Eidul Adha, we begin to create interfaith harmony among Filipinos. Greater awareness of each other’s celebrations and traditions will help bring to the fore the significance of healthy and constructive discussions among faiths in the Philippines,” Legarda said.
“I wish to reiterate my full support for government efforts to further strengthen Christian-Muslim unity. Interfaith dialogue is crucial to attaining lasting peace and harmony in Philippine society in the years ahead,” she added.
Legarda is the author of R.A. 9849 which declared the tenth day of the month of Zhul Hijja as a national holiday to commemorate the Eidul Adha.
Last month, Legarda filed a bill declaring the first week of February as “World Interfaith Harmony Week” in the Philippines, which aims to build genuine understanding among people of different faiths and belief systems.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Legarda Echoes Call of Indonesian President to Prioritize Local Capacity-Building on Disaster Risk Reduction
MANILA, October 24, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today echoed the call of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to prioritize and integrate local capacity building in the government’s national program on disaster risk reduction.
"I support the call of President Yudhoyono to strengthen disaster risk reduction efforts through the creation of disaster-resilient villages, advancement of multi-stakeholder participation, development of local human and technical capacity, financing of local capacity-building programs, coordination of national and local capacity, and integration of small-scale disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives into local development processes," said Legarda, the United Nations (UN) Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.
Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change, has vigorously advocated for the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) into local and national development plans. She has conducted several regional DRR and CCA workshops for local governments, non-government organizations, business and community leaders, students, media, and various stakeholders across the country.
“The best choice we have 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. Building a disaster-resilient country should be everybody’s business. We all have to work together—the national government, the LGUs, the private sector—in ensuring that our country and all our citizens are ready to prevent hazards from turning into devastating disasters,” she said.
Legarda, who was recently recognized by the United Nations as a Hero of Resilience, said that the Philippine legislature has taken a proactive stance in building the nation’s resilience to disasters by passing two laws, the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which were both cited by Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, as among the best laws in the world.
Legarda also sponsored the People’s Survival Fund Law, which mandated the appropriation of one billion pesos annually for the financing of climate change adaptation projects of local governments and organizations.
“We need to empower local leaders who have the privilege to translate national policies, plans and programs into concrete and visible actions for the people,” she said.
According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report entitled “Reducing Vulnerability and Exposure to Disasters”, the average number of people exposed to yearly flooding in Asia has increased by more than 50% from 29.5 million to 63.8 million in the last forty years, from 1970 to 2010.
Furthermore, a study jointly undertaken by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank, predicted that a major flood in Metro Manila could cause damages equivalent to almost a quarter of the metropolitan area’s GDP or 560 billion pesos.
The 5th AMCDRR, which is currently being held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from October 22-25, is expected to discuss mechanisms by which governments could integrate local level disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts in National Development Planning.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
QUEBEC, Canada, October 23, 2012-Senator Edgardo J. Angara today personally extended an invitation to leaders from all over the world during the 127th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly for them to come to Manila this January 2013 for the 5th Global Conference on Anti-Corruption.
With the theme "Good laws. Good leaders. Good Citizens," the Conference, hosted by the Senate of the Philippines, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), and the Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC), is expected to draw 500 leaders from all over the world to Manila.
"The Conference is considered as one of the largest anti-corruption events in the world," said Angara. "It is important because it will equip parliamentarians all over the world with the knowledge and tools they need to enact responsive and effective legislation that will fight and prevent corruption."
Highlighting corruption as a shared challenge to all governments worldwide, developing and developed nations alike, Angara underlined the need for government reform towards eradicating corruption to achieve long-term economic growth and regain people's trust in government.
During the Pre-Conference Meetings, the invitation to come to Manila was reiterated to the regional groups of Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean by the Philippine Delegation. Global leaders responded positively to the invitation describing said Conference as "timely" and "very meaningful." They likewise congratulated the Philippines for the initiative.
Angara was joined by Senator Franklin Drilon, Head of the Philippine Delegation, and Senators Teofisto Guingona III, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in promoting the 5th Global Manila Conference in Manila here at the IPU. The meeting here in Quebec runs from October 22 to 27, 2012.
Angara is the driving force behind SEAPAC, which leads regional anti-corruption efforts on a coordinated and institutional basis through parliamentarian-members in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. He also currently serves as Vice President of GOPAC, and Head of the Manila 2013 Steering Committee.
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