Tuesday, August 14, 2012


MANILA, August 14, 2012-Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development launches probe on the case of Bonita Baran, a kasambahay who fell victim to maltreatment and physical abuse of her female employer for several years.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, sitting as committee chairman, opens today an inquiry in aid of legislation on the incident to prevent further occurrence of such and to punish the perpetrators of similar violent acts.
The harrowing experience of Baran, which prompted the Senate investigation, was the subject of a privilege speech of Sen. Estrada last July 31.
Baran, 21 year old household worker from Catanduanes, allegedly experienced different forms of abuse from Mrs. Annaliza Marzan, her employer for more than five years. Baran says Mrs. Marzan repeatedly beat her with a broom, battered her head with vase and plates, and punched her in the eyes. The last blow caused severe injuries to her eyes and has resulted to blindness.
Baran also states that her employer pressed a hot iron against her face and stabbed her left arm with a pair of scissors.
Baran was also only paid 700 pesos as monthly salary, lower than prescribed minimum wage in National Capital Region for household workers.
“The committee yields to the pronouncement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile during the interpellation on my privilege speech that the Senate must show to everyone that it is not a chamber only for the privileged few, but is the Senate of the people,” says Jinggoy, also Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment.
Sen. Estrada articulates that the public inquiry intends to know whether or not Baran’s case is an isolated case and identify which government agency, if any, can an abused kasambahay run to for relief and assistance.
Sen. Estrada, who successfully steered the passage of the Kasambahay Bill in the Senate and recently co-sponsored the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, notes that the Labor Code actually provides protection for the domestic workers, including those referred to as yaya, maid, boy, manang, inday, among others.
“Household workers are entitled to fair and humane treatment, free food and accommodation, social security coverage and opportunity to finish at least elementary education. The Labor Code also contains explicit stipulations against forced labor, multiple work, and non-compliance on decent wages. But apparently, these are not followed and perhaps often violated as seen in the case of Bonita,” the lawmaker points out.
“And so the committee wishes to hear the often voiceless, unsung heroes of our household and our economy and find out what the State is doing and can do more to protect their welfare,” Jinggoy asserts.
Invited as resource persons include Baran; Atty. Persida Acosta, Chief of the Public Attorney’s Office; Prosecutor Irene Resurreccion of the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office; P/SSUP Maria Theresa Ann Cid, Chief of Women’s Crisis and Child Protection Office, Philippine National Police;
Ms. Ma. Evelyn Lita Manangan of the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, Department of Labor and Employment; Ms. Emmeline Verzosa, Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women; and Ma. Cecilia Flores Oebanda, President of the Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc.
The committee also requested the presence of Mrs. Marzan and sent invitation in her residence in Quezon City, but she failed to show up.


MANILA, August 14, 2012-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan calls on the government anew to help build and establish strategically located trading centers that would help raise incomes of local farmers and fisherfolk while providing consumers easy access to low-cost food.

“While we would rather see the Food Terminal Incorporated be restored to fulfill its original intent, we laud the government's commitment to plow back to the agriculture sector the proceeds of this sale. We must also ensure that our countrymen are given access to low-cost food especially during the wet season. Establishing several strategically located trading centers will help in this endeavor.”

Pangilinan, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, has been working to raise the incomes of the country's farmers and fisherfolk, as he believes that it reduces the stranglehold of middlemen and unscrupulous traders. He says that trading centers will provide farmers and fisherfolk ready market for their goods.

“The establishment of strategically located trading centers becomes even more crucial as climate change wreaks havoc on our agricultural lands and fish pens. It would serve the best interest of our farmers and fisherfolk if they are able to send out their harvest the soonest possible time to a trading center with modern cold storage facilities. These would also help to ensure food security especially whenever devastating storms and floods hit the country.”


MANILA, August 14, 2012-Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan urges the government to review the tenets of the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee, as the country failed in its bid for medals in the 2012 Olympics in London.

“Not since 1996 have we won any medal in the Olympics. We should review the efforts of the PSC and POC and make sure that they are efficient and effective. There could be some things that we fail to implement, and things we are taking for granted. Let us do this for the sake of our athletes,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, a former university varsity player, earlier sent a statement of full support to the Philippine delegates to the London Olympics. He adds that the athletes who competed “have shown valiance and 'competitive heart' worthy of becoming Olympians, and that the government must ensure that it provides these athletes the tools to ensure victory in the next campaign.”

“Representing the country is a huge undertaking. We must prepare our athletes for the pressure of competing on a global scale and do all that we can to provide them the necessary tools and skills to ensure victory. Sending delegates to international competition is akin to sending diplomats to foreign countries. There are certain minimum standards that we must always strive to achieve if we want the rest of the world to take us seriously in sports.”

DFA likely to get budget increase to acquire consular offices abroad, says Drilon

MANILA, August 14, 2012-The Senate Finance Committee will recommend an increase in the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in 2013 to capacitate the agency to acquire embassy and consular offices abroad, its chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon said today.

“We are amenable to increasing the budget of the DFA through a higher percentage of the use of the consular services fund,” said Drilon, who was disappointed to know that there are consular offices abroad that do not have proper and decent office.

At   present, the agency used only 10 percent of the proceeds from consular services as part of its building fund which they use to acquire and lease offices and residences abroad, noted Drilon. The building fund is budgeted with P428.29 million in 2013.

“We are willing to double it to 20 percent. We can certainly use some of these consular funds for acquisition of our chanceries and residences, so in the long term, we will have our own chanceries and embassies abroad. Other countries have done this program long time ago. It is time we do it for our country,” stressed Drilon.

Drilon, however, imposed a condition on granting an additional budget for DFA, which, he emphasized, additional fund must be used exclusively to finally acquire consular offices abroad.

“I am willing to consider amending your budget to increase the percentage of the use of consular fund on the condition that it will be used exclusively for acquisition of embassy, chancery or residence,” he said.

He requested the DFA to prioritize which consular offices it plans to acquire, and submit the same to the committee for further review.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, for his part, was pleased to hear of Drilon’s proposal, and said: “that’s a great suggestion and its’ a wonderful gesture on your part.”

The DFA defended its proposed 2013 budget of P11.64 billion, including automatic appropriation, an increase of 6.6 percent from its current budget of P10.92 billion.

Presently, the DFA has 60 embassies, 20 consulate generals all over the world, which mostly are leased in the amount of P600 million yearly.

Meanwhile, Drilon pushed the DFA to step up efforts to attract former Filipinos who lost their citizenship to avail of the Dual Citizenship Law, which Drilon authored in 2003.

He noted that only about 95,000 Filipinos abroad have regained their citizenship since the law was passed.

“I am disappointed at the implementation of this Dual Citizenship Law. The 95,000 is a very small percentage of the universe of former Filipino citizens who could have availed of dual citizenship law,” Drilon said.

“I requested DFA to intensify efforts to attract our former compatriots to once more become Filipino citizens. I am talking about a very definite target and very detailed communication plan to address concerns which are actually non-existent,” stressed Drilon.

“Malaking bagay na sa ngayon ang ating mga kababayan ay mataas ang tingin sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. They are proud that the Aquino administration is doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.

In a related news, the proposed budget of the Office of the President of P2.7 billion was also approved, together with the budgets of the Presidential Management Staff of P330.063 million and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office of P35.47 million.

Legarda: Phl Should Lead Global Campaign for Protection of Domestic Workers; Encourage Receiving States to Ratify ILO Convention 189

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the Philippines should lead the global campaign for the protection of domestic workers, especially those working in foreign nations, by encouraging receiving states of Filipino domestic workers to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and sponsor of Senate Resolution No. 816 that pushed for the ratification of the Convention, said that it is imperative for the Philippines, as a country with 1.5 million Filipinos working as domestic workers abroad, to champion the causes of these workers.

“The Philippines’ ratification of ILO Convention 189 will pave the way for the treaty's entry into force, but we have to do even more by encouraging other states, especially those with high concentration of Filipino domestic workers, to ratify the Convention. This treaty will strengthen our resolve and leverage in negotiating for stronger protection and better terms and conditions of employment of our kasambahays,” she pointed out.

The Senator explained that ILO Convention 189 will enter into force 12 months after at least two nations have completed their ratification process. The Philippines is the second nation to complete the process of ratification following Uruguay.

She added that 369 ILO member states adopted the Convention. Among these countries are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Syria—countries that have the most number of Filipino domestic workers.

“ILO Convention 189 is the manifesto that every domestic worker deserves and longs for. It is an international instrument that declares domestic work not as a favor to be granted but as an occupation to be protected. This Convention unveils the universal rights of domestic workers,” Legarda stressed.

She added that the Convention, which will also benefit the 1.9 million kasambahays in the country, directs ILO member states to take measures that will ensure that all domestic workers are informed of the terms and conditions of their employment, including salary, time of work and rest, provision of food and shelter, and vacation. For migrant domestic workers, it should include the date when the contract ends.

“The Philippines must be at the forefront of the global campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 189. We must do this for the sake of more than three million Filipino domestic workers both here and abroad who all wish to be recognized as legitimate workers, not slaves, and be accorded decent working conditions, just compensation and sufficient benefits,” Legarda concluded.

Senate ready to pass supplemental budget to intensify gov’t rehab efforts, says Drilon

MANILA, August 14, 2012-Senator Franklin M. Drilon today said the Senate is ready to consider a possible supplemental budget in order to authorize additional funds to respond to devastation brought about by recent massive flooding.

“If necessary, we are willing to recommend to the Senate a supplementary budget or adjust the 2013 proposed budget for medium and long term projects that will be needed to immediately address the calamities,” said Drilon, who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

The proposed 2013 budget is currently being reviewed in the Congress.

President Aquino on Monday approved the swift implementation of around P5 billion flood control projects such as the repair of damaged dikes, roads, bridges, and pumping stations in areas greatly affected by the recent calamity, noted Drilon.

However, Drilon explained that only about P10.9 billion is available for realignment consisting of P9.4 billion savings from 2012 General Appropriations Act, which were basically realized from unused budgets for unfilled positions in the first half of the year, and some unused allocation for Public-Private Partnership for school buildings. There is also P1.5 billion savings from 2011 appropriations.

The P10.9 billion, he noted, is in addition to the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways for road maintenance and rehabilitation efforts.

Also, the Quick Response Fund of P7.5 billion for 2012 is already depleted, said Drilon. He added that the remaining balance may not be enough to respond to a number of typhoons that are expected to visit the country in the coming months, added Drilon.

He said the supplemental fund may capacitate further the government to advance immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the recent calamity, as well as to carry out needed engineering interventions to address perennial flooding in the country.

In addition, Drilon was worried over a potential negative effect of the recent calamities in the country’s economy and growth target as what happened when typhoon Ondoy hit the country in 2009.

“Infusion of funds for rehabilitation will enable the economy to achieve the programmed GDP growth of 5-6%. It should be noted that the result of typhoon Ondoy in 2009, there was a reduction in gross domestic growth of 0.4 percent as against programmed,” said Drilon.

Earlier, Drilon said the government may need foreign loans to implement a long-term flood mitigation plan estimated to be at around P352 billion.


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