Sunday, February 17, 2013


Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan has challenged the Commission on Election to go after vote-buying politicians.

"The COMELEC must create an anti-vote-buying task force whose sole mandate is to pursue disqualification cases against vote buying politicians," the Liberal Party senator said. "I am certain that even if only 10 cases of vote buying prosper and lead to disqualification before election day, it will send a clear signal for the rest of the nation and will create a major dent in the anti-vote buying effort. No candidate would want to have a case hanging over his head while campaigning."

Pangilinan also stressed that the COMELEC must work hard to disqualify vote-buying politicos before election day and not after, adding that if the Commission does not act swiftly on such cases it is in effect condoning it.

"It is a known fact that, all over the country, politicos buy votes under the guise of solicitations. The lack of action on the part of the COMELEC all these years on rampant vote-buying has made the practice ingrained. They have for the longest time turned a blind eye and deaf ear on vote-buying. No one has been disqualified for this prior to election day. Hence it goes unabated, and we end up electing and proclaiming officials who won because of impunity and who, despite breaking the law, would go on breaking the law once in office.

"This vicious and corrupting cycle must end," the lawmaker stressed.

Pangilinan added that honest candidates will need the help of the COMELEC in order for them to win in an election.

"The principled and the incorruptible candidate will never resort to vote-buying. When confronted with the shameless vote-buying machinery of the corrupt politician, the only recourse of the honest candidate is to have these politicians disqualified by a proactive and courageous COMELEC."

Legarda Seeks Albay’s Help in Creating Disaster-Resilient Barangays

MANILA, February 18, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda sought the help of the local government of Albay in creating a model for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) that all barangays in the country can use as guide in making their communities disaster-resilient.

During her recent visit to the Bicol Region, Legarda, the United Nations Regional Champion for DRR and CCA for Asia-Pacific, said that she will seek the help of Albay Governor Joey Salceda in “instilling the DRR-CCA model of Albay in every barangay all over the country.”

“I will ask Governor Joey Salceda through his Climate Change Academy to help me since we are both UNISDR champions. He is an economist, an environmentalist and a DRR champion. I will ask for his help in crafting plans, programs and policies in the barangay level to make sure each barangay is disaster-resilient,” the Senator said.

She explained that Albay is a model for disaster mitigation and preparedness, especially because while the Bicol Region is disaster-prone and vulnerable to several natural hazards, Albay has become disaster-resilient.

In fact, Albay, along with Makati  City and the Municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu, is among the United Nations' 29 model communities  that are exemplars in disaster risk reduction and management.

The Province of Albay was recognized for its focus on preparing comprehensive land use plans that address climate and disaster risks, and for investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure.

“We have many best practices, like those in Albay, that other LGUs can use as guide in crafting their own programs. Communities that have yet to establish DRR and CCA practices should start now with both a short-term plan for the natural hazards expected to come within the next months, and a long-term program to ensure disaster-resilient communities in the future,” said Legarda.

Even as the campaign for the May 2013 Elections has already started, Legarda, senatorial candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition , continues her advocacy on disaster preparedness, stressing that she wants to have an “educational and environmental campaign.”

“I want to have a meaningful campaign, one that is not just all about political issues but also issues that really matter most to the Filipino people. We will save lives by making each barangay disaster-resilient,” she concluded.

Legarda Wants Libel Decriminalized

MANILA, February 18, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated her stance that libel should be decriminalized, stressing thatfreedom of speech is easily stifled with the mere threat of criminal libel as the commonly used form of suppression.

“Apart from threatening our Constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech, the continued criminalization of libel will be a huge hindrance in efforts aimed at promoting good governance and exacting accountability on our public officials,” said Legarda who has filed a measure, Senate Bill 3294, to decriminalize libel.

The Senator, a former broadcast journalist, noted the September 2012 report by United States-based organization Freedom House which rated the status of press freedom in the Philippines as only “partly free” citing among other things, the criminalization of libel under the country’s penal code. It particularly noted how frequent use of such charges has often been used to “stifle criticism of officials and of public figures”.

“The continued criminalization of libel will work more to discourage members of the media to perform their duties with zeal and vigilance. Instead of looking deeply into issues that have a potential of affecting public interest and general welfare, the penalties imposed have paved the way for members of the media to approach their mandates with doubt and hesitation,” Legarda stressed.

“We cannot have that in a country where democracy is primarily hinged on freedom of speech and of expression, and where media is considered the Fourth Estate,” Legarda concluded.

UNA wrong on corruption statement, Ombudsman has not spared LP figures: Quimbo

Team PNoy spokesman Rep. Miro Quimbo on Sunday/Feb. 17 deplored that the reckless accusation of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that the Aquino administration was soft on its allies in the implementation of its anti-corruption campaign “was unfair and have no factual or legal basis.”

At the same time, Quimbo appealed to UNA leaders to stop muddling the campaign with “personality-based character assassination” and stick to the relevant issues by presenting their alternative platform of government if they have any.

       “Membership in the LP does not give immunity nor protection to any member from any accountability process. On the contrary, unlike in other parties, LP membership serves as a high standard to conduct oneself beyond reproach and following the example of the President,” Quimbo said in a press statement.

He reminded UNA that among the “first major achievements of the PNoy Administration was to restore long-lost public confidence in our legal institutions such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the courts of law.”

“We have a new Ombudsman, who has displayed a strikingly remarkable independence in the discharge of the functions of her office. Her resolve is electrifying the anti-graft and corruption drive under the PNoy administration to the point where even LP stalwarts, hailed to the Office of Ombudsman, have not received any special treatment whatsoever,” Quimbo said.

      Among the LP luminaries, Quimbo said, are former Isabela Governor now Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca and former Bukidnon Congressman now Presidential Adviser on Environment Protection Neric Acosta, both of whom are have pending cases before the Sandiganbayan.

“They have now an excellent chance to clear their names in the proper court,” Quimbo said. “This is a milestone in the dispensation of justice initiated by the PNoy administration, which enhances the drive for clean government under the “daang matuwid”. This is a hallmark in the dispensation of justice.”

       The senatorial campaign for the May 13 elections, which entered its fifth day yesterday, has been turned into a mudslinging exercise directed against personalities and even non-candidates by the opposition, he said.

      “I challenge UNA. Let us stick to platforms and programs, Lay down what your alternative programs in eradicating poverty and joblessness. Our people deserve to hear from you,” he said.

Quimbo said “all the accusations raised by Rep. Toby against me are rehashed political smear propaganda that was spread by my political opponents years ago. They have no factual nor legal basis.”

“The questionable and fraudulent loans that Cong. Toby is referring happened after I had left Pag-IBIG. If he simply checks the dates of these fraudulent loans, it will reveal that they happened after 15 March of 2009, the day I was replaced as CEO. It did not happen during my watch,” Quimbo said.

“It might also interest him to know that I was unceremoniously replaced as CEO of Pag-IBIG Fund precisely because of my refusal to expand the pilot lending window to Globe Asiatique as was being demanded by the developer from Pag-IBIG,” Quimbo added.

“I am proud of the work I did in Pag-IBIG where I was hired as a professional to manage the workers provident fund. From a small workers fund, by the time I had left, it had become a Php250B asset company and was the most profitable government corporation generating P10B in net income and was the biggest taxpayer of the government in 2008. We were financing 60 percent of all housing loans in the country and providing multipurpose loans to at least 2 million members annually,” Quimbo said.


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