Monday, October 8, 2012

Trillanes: Enrile caught lying again on baselines law claim

MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV on Monday presented Senate records to prove that  he was the principal author of the baselines law in the Senate, debunking claims by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile that Trillanes merely copied his  version of the archipelagic baselines bill, which was later enacted as Republic Act No. 9522.

According to the official records of the 14th Congress of the Senate, Trillanes filed the first version of the baselines bill, Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1467, on 14 August 2007.

The other senators who filed their versions of the bill were former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel (SBN 2144, filed on 26 March 2008) Senator Edgardo Angara (SBN 2184, filed on 22 April 2008), former Senator Rodolfo Biazon, (SBN 2215, filed on 29 April 2008) and Enrile (SBN 2216, filed on 29 April 2008).

“This clearly shows that Sen. Enrile was only the fifth senator to file a similar bill, eight and a half months after I filed my baselines bill. The substitute bill, SBN 2699, which was sponsored by the Committee on Foreign Relations, further acknowledges the fact that I am the principal author of the Philippine Baselines Law at the Senate,” Trillanes added.

The young senator further noted that it was the Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, which sponsored the baselines bill, contrary to the claim of Enrile that he sponsored the measure.

“These records do not lie. Once again, Senator Enrile has been caught lying on an issue just so he could destroy other people’s reputations and divert the public’s attention, “Trillanes said.

Legarda Files Bills to Amend Cybercrime Prevention Act and Decriminalize Libel

MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda filed a bill to repeal the libel and takedown provisions of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

“In seeking repeal of the two clauses through Senate Bill 3295, I hope to eliminate the chilling effect that may impose undue boundaries on our people’s exercise of freedom of expression,” Legarda said.

“Consistent with the Constitutional mandate of promoting free expression, it is imperative for institutions such as the legislative branch of government to adopt a policy towards the proliferation of a free market of ideas,” she added.

Legarda also noted the need to strike a balance between the government’s role to protect its citizenry and uphold its freedom of expression.

“The vulnerability of the cyberspace to pollutants, such as pornography, cybersex, fraudulent practices and promotion of human trafficking were precisely the reasons for the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,” she noted.

“However, adopting such policy to prevent pollutants   from spoiling the minds of our people must not be done at the expense of our valued right to free speech,” Legarda noted.

Moreover, the Senator filed Senate Bill 3294 to decriminalize libel, removing the penalty of fine and imprisonment in libel cases.

“While the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, experience has shown us that such is easily stifled with the mere threat of criminal libel,” Legarda noted.

“Apart from threatening our citizenry’s long-cherished Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom, the continued criminalization of libel will be a huge hindrance in efforts aimed at promoting good governance and exacting accountability on our public officials,“ she added.

Legarda filed similar bills in 2001 and 2007.

Legarda Hails Approval on Third Reading of Expanded Anti-Human Trafficking Bill

MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the Senate’s approval on Third Reading of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill, which will strengthen Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Legarda, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625 or the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012, expressed optimism that the proposed measure when passed into law will significantly improve the country’s fight against human trafficking, stressing that even acts that shall constitute attempted trafficking in persons will be punishable under this measure.

“This measure expands the enumeration of acts that promote trafficking, to include an act to destroy or tamper with evidence, to influence witnesses in an investigation, or to utilize one’s public office to impede an investigation or the execution of lawful orders. Meanwhile, the privilege of confidentiality now being enjoyed by the accused in a trafficking case will be removed,” she explained.

Legarda also said that protection to trafficked victims shall be given in the form of custody and interim protection under the power of the DSWD or an accredited shelter institution; while prosecution efforts will be heightened by shielding, to a reasonable extent, law enforcement officers and social workers from harassment suits for lawful acts done in good faith during authorized rescue operations, investigation or prosecution of a case.

Furthermore, a permanent secretariat within the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) will be established to ensure continuity of programs and to take the battle against trafficking to a higher plane of strategic action and public awareness. This secretariat will collect comprehensive criminal justice data on trafficking in persons and will train prosecutors and law enforcers.

"Now that the Expanded Anti-Human Trafficking Bill has been passed on third reading, we are that much closer to providing lasting and effective solutions to the scourge of trafficking in persons,” Legarda concluded.

Legarda: PHL to Reach MDG Target on Child Mortality with 100% Newborn Screening Coverage

MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda urged government agencies, health institutions, local government officials, and the private sector to unite in meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Target on child mortality by ensuring 100% Newborn Screening Coverage through the full implementation of the Republic Act 9288, also known as the “Newborn Screening Act of 2004”.

“While I welcome the 26.4 percent increase in Newborn Screening coverage as noted in a report conducted by the University of the Philippines, the National Institutes of Health, and the Newborn Screening Reference Center, I believe that we can still do better as we bridge the communication gap and expand screening for Filipino newborns,” Legarda said in her privilege speech.

“If we were able to jump from 15.6% in 2007 to 42% in 2011, the vision of providing newborns, regardless of socio-economic status, with a comprehensive, affordable, and accessible newborn screening should not be out of reach,” she added.

Legarda, who authored the law, also cited a United Nations Development Programme report, which noted a 60% decrease in under-five mortality rate in the Philippines for the past 16 years from 80 deaths in 1990, to 32 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006.”

“The problem lies with the lack of information and awareness that such procedure is available, especially for those who deliver their babies at home,” she said.

“With only three years left until the deadline to reduce child mortality, our government needs all the help and support it can get to save our children from unnecessary death,” the legislator noted.

Newborn screening, which must be done one to three days after birth, is a public health program aimed at early detection of genetic or metabolic conditions, which may lead to severe mental retardation, cataract, anemia, and even death if left untreated. Newborn babies of the poorest 5.2 million families identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction can avail of free newborn screening as part of PhilHealth’s Newborn Care Package. 

Legarda Hails Tamaraw Population Growth; Pushes for Heightened Public Awareness on Endangered Species

MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the reported Tamaraw population growth in the Iglit-Baco National Park and pushed for heightened public awareness about the status of endangered species and how they can be protected.

“This success is owed to the dedication of the men and women who have worked tirelessly over the past decade in order for the tamaraw to thrive. Heightened awareness about the tamaraw, as well as otherendangered species, will serve to increase their chances of survival,” she remarked.

According to the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP), numbers of the critically endangered Bubalus mindorensis , a small buffalo species found on Mindoro island, have been rising little by little since 2000.

“Economic development threatens many of our indigenous animal species. Poaching, illegal logging, and the destruction of their habitat remain the greatest challenges. Through our concerted efforts, and aided by laws such as the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008, we can eliminate these threats,” she said.

Legarda noted that today the official count of tamaraw spotted in the 75,000-hectare Iglit-Baco National Park stands at 327, but that this covers only 16,000 hectares or 20% of the entire reserve. Officials say that the actual number may be far higher.

“It gives me great joy to know that initiatives of both the government and wildlife conservation advocates are bearing fruit, and that future generations will not be deprived of seeing them in their natural habitat. This should inspire us to continue the campaign,” she concluded.


MANILA, October 8, 2012-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday hailed the recent breakthrough in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that helped create the entity Bangsamoro, the entity that will now replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We have repeatedly said that the ARMM is a failed experiment. It is about time that we provide our brothers in the south a new, more appropriate political body that will promote the best interests of Muslim Mindanao in line with what has been guaranteed them under the 1987 Constitution. The ARMM has proven to be outdated and unable to respond with the changing times, and has failed to meet the needs of Filipinos in the region. We are confident that the creation of the Bangsamoro, as a tangible output of the peace process, will be more responsive to the needs of Filipinos in the south.”

“We hope that this will offer a good start and a brighter hope to those of us who seek lasting peace in Mindanao,” Pangilinan emphasized.

Pangilinan also pointed out that lasting peace and security in the region are bedrocks of economic progress.

“Economic prosperity has shown to be a natural neutralizer of social unrest. The creation of jobs and enterprises, and the realization of the potential of our fellow Filipinos in the south, will usher in a renaissance in the Philippines unlike any other we have experienced before. That said, we will fully support this move that will affect the lives of millions of Filipinos who have waited generations for peace to finally come to more parts of Mindanao.”


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