Friday, November 16, 2012

Legarda Echoes Call for Countries to Ratify UN Conventions on Trafficking Victims and Migrant Workers

MANILA, November 17, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today echoed the call of the Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva for countries to ratify international instruments that will protect vulnerable sectors, such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) Convention 189 on domestic workers.

“Even as we celebrate the Philippine ratification of ILO 189, and are working on the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act, we should also urge other countries to work on these issues, as they affect a great number of women and children. I thus express full support to Ambassador Evan P. Garcia who seeks transnational support for these efforts,” she said.

Legarda, who sponsored both the Expanded Anti-trafficking Act and the Senate ratification of ILO Convention 189, among other efforts to safeguard vulnerable sectors, stressed that these issues should be among the top priorities of legislators all over the world.

“We saw the ratification of ILO Convention 189 last August, which was a milestone for Filipino domestic workers both here and abroad. We are also positive that we will soon have the Expanded Anti-trafficking Act, which will strengthen the prosecution of preempted acts of trafficking and provide protection to trafficked victims, among others,” she explained.

“In our increasingly globalized environment, countless persons are threatened by those who take advantage of others for their own gain. It is our responsibility to ensure that these injustices do not happen, not just on our own soil, but in all countries,” Legarda concluded.


MANILA, November 16, 2012-President Benigno S. Aquino III yesterday certified as urgent Senate Bill 3299 or the sin tax reform bill that, in effect, allows the proposed measure to be approved on second and third reading on Monday sans the three days interval rule, announced Senator Franklin M. Drilon.  

“The President certified as urgent the sin tax reform bill for he believes the passage of this very important piece of legislation will buttress government health agenda and address the high prevalence of smoking in the country,” said Drilon.

The certification, which was signed by the President before he leaves for Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, gives authority to Upper Chamber to vote on a measure on second and third reading without having to observe the three days interval rule, explained Drilon.

As a rule, a bill must undergo three readings on three separate days except when the President certifies a bill as urgent to meet a public calamity or national emergency.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, I hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate enactment of Senate Bill 3299 to address the urgent need to restructure the excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products in order to enhance revenue generating potential of the tax system, and utilize the incremental revenues therefrom to augment the funding for the universal healthcare program of the government,” the President said in the certification letter.

“We are in the final stretch. We are only one step farther before the passage of this bill; but, certainly, without the support of the President, we would not have gone this far,” said Drilon who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

Drilon said SB 3299, which faced a thorough scrutiny of senators during the five extended session days, will face individual amendments on Monday prior to its ratification.

“After all interpellations on the committee amendments were closed and the committee amendments having been accepted, then we now go to the period of individual amendments wherein the Senators can propose amendments. If these amendments are accepted by the Chamber, they will be considered as part of the bill.”

“I am confident that our colleagues have seen and realized the importance of this reform measure to a great majority both as a health measure and as a finance bill. I am confident that they will vote for its passage when session resumes on Monday,” ended Drilon.


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