Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Comelec sets December 1 plebiscite on Cabanatuan’s conversion into HUC

CABANATUAN CITY, October 30, 2012–The Commission on Elections has set for December 1 the holding of a plebiscite on the conversion of this city from a component city into a Highly Urbanized City.

          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 Cabanatuan city election officer Michael Camangeg.

          Earlier, the poll body denied the petition of Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali  to allow all qualified voters in the whole province of Nueva Ecija to take part in  a plebiscite that will ratify the proclamation of this city into a HUC.

  In his petition,  Umali  said Novo Ecijanos will be affected once Cabanatuan 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.
    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)                       

“Draw Lessons from NY Mayor’s Preparedness for Superstorm Sandy” – Legarda

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.

Legarda Stresses on Value of IPRA, Calls for Better Implementation

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.


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