Sunday, November 11, 2012


MANILA, November 11, 2012-THREE-term Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar has asserted  that their running in an election is merely all about public service and not building a political dynasty.     
“We just want to serve,” said Villar, whose husband, Sen. Manny Villar was a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President.
Senator Villar’s term ends in 2013. Their son, Mark , is seeking his second term as congressman of Las Pinas City.
            However, the former congresswoman assured  she will strictly adhere to  the law if it would later say that this is not allowed.           
“If there is a law on political dynasty, we will follow it. It’s not  only in running  for public office wherein we can serve the people,” said Villar who  served  as President of the Lady Legislators of the House during the 12th, 13th, and 14th Congress.
At present, she noted there is no law  in the 1987 Constitution that specifically bars relatives from running for public office.
“What is prohibited right now is with regards to term limits... there is no other prohibitions,” she pointed out.
            But Villar averred that aside from running in a (political) position, they can do other things to serve and help people.         
Since 1992, when the Villar Foundation was founded, Villar   has been actively espousing programs for the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), providing livelihood and caring for the environment.
Villar also sees nothing wrong in campaigning with Makabayan Koalisyon ng Mamayan (Makabayan) which endorsed her candidacy and that of  other senatorial hopefuls, incumbent Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Loren Legarda and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and former MTRCB chairman Grace Poe Llamanzares.
She said Makabayan, a political alliance of 11 partylist organizations, does not actually have a stage where they campaign.
Recalling her experience with the group, Villar said they just had meetings, and they ask you to join.
“It’s just a small group where they explain their stand on issues. It’s similar to a town hall meeting,” added Villar, a Nacionalista Party candidate running under the ruling Liberal Party and its coalition partners. 

Legarda: Expanded Anti-Trafficking Bill to Improve Efforts Against Trafficking in the PHL

MANILA, November 11, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today said that the proposed amendments to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act will significantly improve the efforts against trafficking in the country as she noted that the statement of UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, should be taken for what it is -- a statement over an alarming global problem that is symptomatic of the “crushing poverty” facing people around the world.

“It would be prudent to carefully study the efforts undertaken, over the years, to identify other gaps that could probably be addressed by stronger policy measures, and improvement in our law enforcement, prosecution, justice system, and even programs and services for trafficked persons and those who are vulnerable to trafficking,” Legarda stressed.

“That is the approach we have taken in seeking to amend the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) of 2003,” said Legarda, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625 or the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012.

“More than nine years after the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208) was passed, we have seen 100 convictions. This is by no means an indication that we have won the battle against trafficking; but we have to take notice of the rising conviction numbers over the years,” she added.

Legarda noted that by year-end of 2011, the country’s Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking reported 62 convictions out of a total of 1,519 cases filed between 2003 and 2011. From January to October of this year, however, 38 convictions were made, equivalent to more than half of the total convictions made over an 8 year period.

The Senator said that these are indications of modest but positive strides the country has achieved in the battle against trafficking. 

Even the US Trafficking Report for 2011 cited that while the Philippine government has yet to “comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so.”  The said report even cited the “notable efforts” made by authorities to address trafficking-related corruption.

Additionally, the report cited that “the government enacted numerous measures and policies to improve institutional responses to human trafficking for this year and in future years, such as increased training of judicial, law enforcement, and diplomatic officials on trafficking issues.”

“These efforts cannot be dismissed. In the midst of these accomplishments, however, we need to do more.  It is for this reason that the Senate and the House moved to amend the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act to improve our capacity to battle this social scourge,” Legarda said.

On Monday (Nov. 12), the representatives of both chambers will be convening a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bills amending RA 9208.  

“There are major amendments which we seek to introduce into the original law, including new provisions on attempted trafficking to strengthen prosecution of pre-empted acts of trafficking; protection to trafficked victims; accomplice liability; protection to trafficked victims in various stages of the investigation and prosecution process; a permanent Secretariat to the country’s anti-trafficking efforts, among others, as well as stronger penalty provisions,” she explained.

“Hopefully, we can adopt a reconciled version of the measure in time for Dec. 12 -- the day of awareness and vigilance for the countless victims of Human Trafficking,” Legarda concluded.

Trillanes presses for passage of Estrada’s ‘Kasambahay’ bill

MANILA, November 11, 2012-Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV openly declared support for fellow Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s call for the approval of the latter’s “Kasambahay” (house helper) bill in order to provide immediate protection to domestic workers in the country.

I fully support Senator Jinggoy Estrada in his advocacy to protect the rights of, and provide more benefits and better treatment for our kasambahays. If enacted into law, this landmark legislation will be a giant leap toward our country’s compliance with international labor standards which guarantee rights and humane treatment of domestic workers wherever situated,” Trillanes said.

According to Trillanes, the Philippines, which has always been in the forefront in promoting the rights of domestic workers in the international community, must do its own homework and ensure humane treatment to Filipino domestic workers in the country.

“Millions of our kababayans abroad working as domestic workers have already secured better treatment in some countries due to government pressure and diplomatic efforts. It is an imperative that we walk the talk and afford the same – if not better – kind of protection, rights and benefits to our own kababayan serving within the country,” the young senator added.

Both chambers of Congress have yet to agree on the final version of the Kasambahay bill, which aims to institute a regulatory framework and various mechanisms to ensure compliance with labor law standards in the employment of domestic workers in the country.

The bill, if passed, will provide regulations governing the salary, employment contracts, work schedule, health and other benefits of domestic workers employed in the country. 

“These kasambahay who make our lives easier and more comfortable should be given the opportunity to improve their own lives and be afforded due respect and appreciation,” Trillanes said.

Fast-tracking the proposed legislation augurs well for the Philippines after the Senate has ratified the International Labor Organization Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers on 6 August 2012, he said. 


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