Tuesday, December 4, 2012
MANILA, December 5, 2012-Damage from Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental is centered in three coastal towns—Baganga, Cateel, and Boston. Compounding the damage sustained, the three towns—with a total population of approximately 150,000 individuals—have become isolated as bridge connections—south from Mati and North from Compostela Valley—were struck down during the typhoon.
Relief goods—primarily food, water, generators, tents, and medicine provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units, and civilian donations—are stored in the capital, Mati. I have thus authorized the local government of Mati, its Mayor and the provincial Governor, to use their calamity funds to hire all available large, local fishing boats for an immediate sea-lift transfer of goods to the affected areas. They are currently carrying out the directives. In addition, Secretary of Transportation and Communications Jun Abaya is sending a vessel from the Philippine Coast Guard; the Philippine Navy has likewise arranged to send over a vessel.
The situation in the rest of Davao Oriental is normalizing, and there are no visible signs of damage. The most difficult challenge we face is the restoration of power to the entire province, due to electric posts that were toppled during the typhoon. The local electric cooperative has assured us that gradual restoration of power begins twenty-four to thirty-six hours from now.
MANILA, December 5, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for heightened disaster preparedness and risk management in all communities all over the country as she expressed alarm over the loss of lives and damage to livelihoods caused by Typhoon Pablo.
“LGUs affected by Typhoon Pablo should immediately assess the causes and effects of the landslides and flooding that occurred and make recommendations to improve mitigation and management before another typhoon hits their area,” she explained.
Based on reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Typhoon Pablo has already claimed at least 77 lives, injured more than 100 individuals, and affected over 21,000 families.
“Typhoon Pablo, like Sendong, Ondoy, and many other natural hazards, test our resilience as a people and compel us, especially those of us in government, to implement our laws better in order to alleviate the suffering of our people. It is the responsibility of LGUs to set up early warning systems, create a team of flood volunteers to be mobilized during emergency situations, and improve their land use plans,” she said.
“We have to take note that the number of casualties and damaged properties caused by Typhoon Pablo could be due to lack of awareness of the risks in their communities. With the recent trend, it is likely that we will be experiencing storms as strong as this, or even stronger, in the coming years. Thus, information dissemination and community disaster preparedness are important because an educated populace would be prepared and know what to do in times of disaster,” Legarda concluded.
MANILA, December 5, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda imparted her message on effective legislation and good governance in the face of natural hazards at the General Assembly of the League of Municipalities and the 4th Quarterly National Executive Officers and National Board Meeting of the Philippine Councilors’ League.
“Besides the Philippine Climate Change Act and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, we have successfully ushered the passage of the People’s Survival Fund Law. I am also relentlessly pushing for the full implementation of our major environmental laws: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Renewable Energy Act. But without our local government units (LGUs), these laws will not be implemented efficiently and effectively,” she explained.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and the United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, noted that LGUs know best the disaster-prone areas based on geo-hazard maps.
The Senator warned that a possible 4-degree Celsius global temperature, as shown in a study by the World Bank, will be detrimental to the country, especially to vulnerable communities. She noted that changes in temperature, rain fall and sea level would likely cause a decline of crop yield by 19% and rice yield by 75% in Asia toward the end of the century. A 2- to 4-degree Celsius in global temperature will also lead to a decline in global GDP.
“The warming climate will greatly affect our local communities, our farmers and fisherfolk, our rural workers, and the poor. We must address this challenge locally with the full support from the national government,” she said.
“Closest to the people, local government leaders have the privilege to translate national policies, plans and programs into concrete and visible actions for the people. Much is expected from you by the people. This is why we must work hand in hand,” she emphasized.
The Senator reminded the local government officials that Filipinos today demand good governance, and said that governing with effective disaster risk reduction is certainly a mark of good local governance, especially in the face of stronger typhoons and higher risks of floods and landslides.
“Now is the time to face bravely the many challenges ahead. The fusion of socio-economic realities and extreme climatic events demand scaled up efforts in reducing disaster and climate risks. But through concerted action and the participation of all citizens, we will be able to make it through these challenges,” Legarda concluded.
We are pleased with the announcement that inflation for the month of November had slowed down to 2.8% from October’s 3.1%. This comes at a time when the Philippine economy is growing at a strong 7.1%, contrary to the common notion that rapid economic growth is usually accompanied by inflationary pressures.
According to the National Statistics Office, the easing of inflation is due to stable prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, utilities, and transportation. This small reduction in inflation brings the consumer price index from January to November this year to 3.2% or well within the lower range of the medium-term target of 3-5% set in the Philippine Development Plan.
MANILA, December 4, 2012-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan calls on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to raid farms that are the source of double-dead meat, or "botcha", that have been proliferating the market.
"If the police will continue being reactive as opposed to being proactive with regard to botcha, then the raids in our palengkes will never end. It has to go beyond that. Why not raid the farms responsible for flooding the markets with double-dead meat? Surely our PNP have intelligence reports as to where these farms are and the persons responsible for this."
Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, seeks to raise penalties for those found violating the National Meat Inspection Service Code. Pangilinan is also proposing amendments to the NMIS code so that there will be tighter coordination among different agencies involved in preventing the proliferation of botcha.
"I refuse to believe that we are helpless against the proliferation of double-dead meats. Are we to allow bureaucracies to prevent us from ending the practice of selling botcha? We have to pinpoint culpability, otherwise consumers will think that the whole industry is vulnerable--ultimately bringing the whole industry down on its knees."
"Matagal na nating problema ito, siguro naman may sapat na tayong kaalaman kung paano pugsain ang pagbenta ng botcha. Kapag tinuligsa natin ang mga pinagmumulan ng mga botcha na ito at masampolan ng pagmulta, pagkakulong, at pagtanggal ng lisensya, siguradong matitigil na ang problemang ito."
MANILA, December 4, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda is set to report today before the Senate the Bicameral Conference Committee report on the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act.
Legarda, Chair of the Sub-Committee on Anti-Trafficking and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625, said that she hails the prompt action of all the parties involved, and looks forward to the immediate enactment of the strengthened anti-trafficking measure.
“The problem of human trafficking continues to hound our society, and this is the reason for the need to strengthen the existing law. The proposed measure that has been approved by the Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee imposes more stringent penalties, including provisions on accessory liability,” she remarked.
She explained that the present law, R.A. 9208, does not have a provision on pre-empted trafficking, but this new law covers attempted trafficking and accessory or accomplice liability, thereby covering under the mantle of the law those individuals who have any involvement in human trafficking.
“I hope that that the measure will be signed by the President in time for December 12, or the day of awareness and vigilance for the countless victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking is a problem that can and must be solved, and it is high time to make another bold and positive stride in our fight against it,” Legarda concluded.
MANILA, December 4, 2012-The Department of Health has set aside more than P500 million in its next year’s budget for the purchase of contraceptives while allotting only P31 million for natural family planning.
The huge discrepancy was disclosed by Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III during interpellations of the DOH budget at the Senate.
The amount is lumped under the Family Health and Responsible Parenting program, which has a budget of P2.539 billion.
Sotto said this proves that there is no need for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, since the major provisions sought by the measure is already being implemented by the DOH.
In his interpellation on the DOH budget which was sponsored by Senator Franklin Drilon, Sotto itemized the breakdown of the P2.539 billion budget for the family health and parenting program.
These include: reproduction of family planning materials at P3 million; purchase of pills at P245.051 million; injectables, P91.225 million; intra-uterine devices, P170.441 million and bilateral tubal ligation kits , P11.336 million.
It is not clear where the purchase of condoms has been inserted, although there is a provision of P365.719 million as ‘Support of Operation of Community Health Team.’
On the other hand, only P31.186 million has been set aside for the acquisition of NFP bundle packs.
Sotto pointed out to Drilon that given the budget for contraceptives, the government has been providing condoms and pills to couples for free since last year.
“I think the people should be informed that we have these, that we have these family planning supplies and birth control methods for free. It is available now. It has been available since last year. Isn’t it?” Sotto said.
To which Drilon replied: “Yes.”
Apart from these figures, the Population Commission has set aside a budget amounting to P127.501 million for subsidies, grants and contributions in support of the population program, Sotto also pointed out.
Drilon explained that the amount will cover responsible parenthood, barangay classes and natural family planning methods, and dissemination of family planning materials.
The DOH is asking for some P51 billion budget next year, of which P21.7 billion has been earmarked for RH-related services. Sotto summed the figures based on the line budget items identified in the DOH budget.
The biggest bulk, P13.558 billion, has been set aside for Health Facilities Enhancement Program targeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the country for health improvement.
The MDGs are international development goals agreed by members of the United Nations to combat poverty, address illiteracy, maternal deaths, child mortality rates, gender inequality, HIV and other diseases, environmental sustainability and global development. Each country has adopted targets they should achieve by 2015.
Sotto pointed out that the P13.558 billion will finance the Basic Emergency Obstetric and New Born Care (BEMONC) and the Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEMONC).
The DOH budget also included a P2.539 billion budget for Family Health and Responsible Parenthood; P2.9 billion for Human Resource Development and P269.8 million for women’s health and safe motherhood project.
Given the proposed DOH budget, Sotto echoed his position that the best argument against the RH is the DOH itself, “because they are already doing this (RH services) and they are doing it well.”
“They have a budget for it. They are doing it…but without the provisions that are controversial and questionable on the RH bill. That is the point I would like to stress. Nagagawa ito ng DOH. Kayang gawin ito ng DOH at ginagawa nila ito through the GAA (General Appropriations Act),” Sotto said.
The RH bill, which is now on the stage of amendment in the Senate, has divided the chamber between pros and antis. Those who were opposed on the RH bill argue that it makes contraceptive mentality a national policy and provides an opening for a legislated abortion.
Since the DOH is already performing what the RH hopes to achieve, the senator said the bill has become redundant. He said it is the foreign agencies that are lobbying for the RH bill, with an eye for lucrative market on contraceptives.
“We are for family health, benefits, training for health workers. But we have no need for these foreign organizations coming in dictating to us what to do in making a law, penalizing us if we do not follow the law, mandating the use of contraceptives, IUDs and condoms. We do not need foreign intervention. We do not need the imposition of foreign agencies and foreign groups,” Sotto stressed.
MANILA, December 4, 2012-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin M. Drilon today announced that the Bicameral Conference Committee appears poised to finalize the report on Wednesday on the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget which Drilon described as a tool for empowerment.
Drilon said the committee is expected to sign the final report on the budget on Wednesday when they finally settle the differences between the Senate and House versions. The report will immediately be submitted for ratification by Congress.
“Once we have reconciled the contentious provisions of the appropriations bill, the bicameral conference committee will immediately submit it to both chambers for ratification,” said Drilon.
Drilon explained that a technical working group was authorized last week by the committee chairs to look into the disagreeing provisions in the budget which are not substantial. He said the group worked through the weekend to come up with the report.
“We will wrap up everything this week, so that we can proceed with the printing of the enrolled bill. We expect it to be signed by the House Speaker and the Senate President by the third week of December,” said Drilon.
“We are confident that on or before December 20, the President should be able to finish reviewing the budget and sign the general appropriations bill,” he added. “This will be the third year that the budget will be enacted into law in time for the coming fiscal year.”
The budget, which the Senate approved on November 28, is 10.5 percent higher than this year’s P1.816 trillion.
Earlier, Drilon said the 2013 national budget will provide funding for public services, provide more jobs, better education, and improved healthcare services.
“The 2013 national budget, once signed into law, will provide for funds to finally close the resource gaps in education system such as the shortage of teachers and educational resources, as well as the lack of enough classrooms,” he said.
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