Sunday, October 7, 2012

Drilon: Peace pact with the MILF key to addressing poverty in Mindanao

MANILA, October 7, 2012-Senator Franklin M. Drilon today welcomed the forging of a framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which he said would pave the way for a final and lasting peace and will open doors of opportunities for much-needed livelihood and socio-economic programs in the entire Mindanao.

Drilon, a former justice and executive secretary, also lauded the government and the MILF for exercising transparency and consultations with the stakeholders in forging a peace agreement.

“The negotiations, in my view, are characterized by transparency and proper consultations with the people of Mindanao which are very essential for a peace pact to be fully and effectively implemented,” said Drilon, who, in 2008, brought to the Supreme Court the signing of Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain as it lacked transparency and violated the Constitution. The Court declared it unconstitutional.

He also echoed the invitation of the President to the Filipino people to examine the agreement and to participate in public discourses before the signing of the agreement.    

“The problems of Mindanao, particularly the high poverty incidence and the poor infrastructures, have been aggravated by the decades-long insurgencies and armed conflicts in the region. They could not be addressed successfully if a peace accord is not signed by the government and the MILF,” stressed Drilon who also served as a consultant to the peace process during the administrations of the late President Corazon Aquino and former President Fidel Ramos.

“The signing of the peace agreement will help solve delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects and fast-track government’s efforts to boost and upgrade agricultural, tourism and commercial infrastructures in Mindanao,” he added.

He also said that even Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson admitted his agency has been facing problems in implementing key infrastructure projects in ARMM because of peace and order problems.

He noted that under the proposed P2.006-trillion 2013 national budget, P258.4 billion has been allocated for Mindanao. In the P165.6 billion 2013 budget of the DWPH, 26.4 percent of it, equivalent to P43.72 billion will go to Mindanao to ramp up the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects basically meant to uplift the condition of Mindanao.

People's Trust in Loren Soars Legarda Attributes High Trust Rating to Hard Work, Consistent Advocacies

MANILA, October 7, 2012-Grateful of the confidence of Filipinos in her, Senator Loren Legarda said that the high trust rating she received in the recent Pulse Asia Survey can be attributed to the quality of work she has been doing and for being consistent with her advocacies.

“I am grateful that I have earned the respect and trust of the Filipino people. The results of the survey are a symbolic representation of the Filipinos’ confidence in the kind of governance I espouse. I owe it to the people to work hard and work sincerely for the causes that I believe will be beneficial to our nation and our people,” said Legarda.

The Senator scored a trust rating of 81% in the Pulse Asia Survey conducted from August 31 to September 7, 2012. High-ranking national officials who were included in the survey are President Benigno Aquino III with 78%, Vice President Jejomar Binay with 84%, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile with 65%.

Legarda has consistently worked for the protection of the rights of women and children, authoring laws such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Anti-Child Labor Law, and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

As Chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Legarda has sponsored the approval of twelve (12) international agreements, recently ushering the Senate's concurrence in the ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers) and the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, which both aim to provide better protection to Filipino workers.

Moreover, Legarda authored several measures to promote every Filipino's right to health such as the Newborn Screening Act, the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act, the Food and Drug Administration Act, and the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.

To promote the resilience of rural livelihoods and support small enterprises, she authored the Barangay Kabuhayan Act, the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, and the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Act.

A known champion for environmental protection, climate change adaptation (CCA), and disaster risk reduction (DRR), Legarda authored and sponsored laws such as the Clean Air Act , the Solid Waste Management Act, the Climate Change Act, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act,  and the People's Survival Fund Act. For these efforts, she was appointed by the United Nations as a Regional Champion for DRR and CCA for Asia-Pacific.

For her outstanding work for the cause of Muslims, Legarda was given the title of Bai a labi (Honorary Muslim Princess) by the Marawi Sultanate league.

“I am glad to know that there is growing clamor for sustainable development, protection of women and children, promotion of workers' right to decent work, and provision of better opportunities in the countryside.  It gives me better motivation and more strength to continue working towards my vision of a resilient Filipino society,” said Legarda.

Legarda Files Bill to Make Chinese New Year a Special Working Holiday

MANILA, October 7, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda recently filed a bill to declare Chinese New Year as a special working Holiday in the Philippines.

“The Filipino-Chinese have played a key role in the economic and cultural development of the Philippines. This bill seeks to recognize the immeasurable contribution of the Filipino Chinese community in our country and strengthen the Filipino-Chinese amity by declaring the day on which the Chinese New Year falls each year as a special working Holiday throughout the entire Philippines,” she explained.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, noted that at present, the ethnic Chinese and the Filipinos with Chinese ancestry make up about 1.3% and 22%, respectively of the country’s population.

“Their known acumen in entrepreneurship and solidarity with their host country—as expressed in their volunteer organizations, have continued to strengthen ties among various communities,” she remarked.

“Given the commercial and cultural linkages that have been forged between Filipinos and Chinese, it is fitting that we declare Chinese New Year as a special working Holiday,” Legarda stressed.

The Senator has been seeking ways to “find unity among diversity” especially among Filipinos who have different culture, beliefs, and groups. She authored the Eid’l Fitr Holiday Law which decreed that the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar be made into a national holiday for the observance of Eid’l Fitr.

Last month, Legarda also 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.


MANILA, October 7, 2012-The two chambers of Congress are set to meet on Monday to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the Kasambahay Bills.
The bicameral conference committee meeting is scheduled on October 8 and 9.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, is hopeful that both houses could report to the plenary a final version of the Batas Kasambahay before the Congress enters another session break on October 19.
“If all things go favorably, we can submit the Congress-approved version of Kasambahay Bill to President Aquino by November. The landmark legislation for all domestic workers can be enacted into law before the year ends. I believe it is the perfect present for all kasambahay this Christmas,” shares Sen. Estrada, who is the principal author of the measure.
The Senate version, embodied under Senate Bill 78 which was passed as early as December 2010, seeks to amend the relevant articles of the Labor Code and provide additional benefits and protection to the househelpers.
Senate Bill 78 increases the minimum monthly wage of domestic workers from Php 800 to Php 2,500 in National Capital Region; from Php 650 to Php 2,000 in chartered cities and first-class municipalities; and from Php 500 to Php 1,500 in other municipalities.
All household helpers should also be covered by the Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Home Development Mutual Fund (or PAG-IBIG) and Employees Compensation Commission (ECC).
Sen. Estrada also plans of introducing a grievance procedure for domestic workers experiencing abuse and maltreatment, following the Senate Labor Committee hearing on the harrowing case of kasambahay Bonita Baran.
On the other hand, House Bill 6144 seeks to create a special law to be known as “Domestic Workers Act,” which enumerates the rights and privileges of domestic workers and establishes standards on pre-employment, employment terms and conditions, and post-employment. It also contains an article for the regulation of private employment agencies deploying domestic workers.
House Bill 6144 also delegates to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards the determination of appropriate minimum wages of domestic workers. It also drafts a penal provision of not less than Php 10,000 fine for violation of the provisions of the proposed act, without prejudice to filing appropriate civil or criminal action by the aggrieved party.
The House of Representatives passed their version of the bill last September 2012.
“Despite the differences on how they are written, I think both chambers are united in the cause of finally coming up with a measure that will protect and advance the welfare of the kasambahay,” acknowledges Jinggoy.
Further, Sen. Estrada cites that the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 on Domestic Work will figure in the discussions on Monday as a reference for the international standards concerning domestic work. The Senate ratified the convention last August 6, 2012.
Batas Kasambahay is also poised to become the enabling law of the convention.
The Upper Chamber has named Sen. Estrada as Chairman of the Senate panel, while Senators Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., and Manuel “Lito” Lapid are named as its members.
The House of Representatives, meanwhile, designated Representatives Emil Ong, Juan Edgardo Angara, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr., Rufus Rodriguez, Walden Bello, Magtanggol Gunigundo, Janette Garin, Edcel Lagman and Ma. Milgaros Magsaysay as conferees to the conference committee.


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