Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Legarda: Free Our Nation From Poverty, Promote Inclusive Growth

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that Filipinos should have a shared vision of freeing the nation from poverty as she expressed support for the government’s programs to make the fruits of economic growth be felt by everyone.

Legarda made the statement as the nation celebrates the 115thAnniversary of Philippine Independence on June 12. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Kalayaan 2013: Ambagan Tungo sa Malawakang Kaunlaran” (Independence Day 2013: Pitching in Towards Inclusive Growth).

“The Philippines’ growth has been surprising economists. In the first quarter of 2013, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.8 percent, even faster than China and its Asian neighbors. But the greater challenge is translating the impressive numbers into more job opportunities, stable employment, equitable access to quality education, health services, and other social services, and safe and disaster-resilient communities for Filipinos,” she said.

Legarda said that investing heavily in the countryside must be included in development initiatives—support for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises to create more employment opportunities; establishing livelihood training programs; and providing technical and financial support to farmers and fisherfolk.

She added that the conservation of the environment should also be part of growth initiatives, stressing that the decline of ecosystems has been determined as one of the underlying drivers of disaster risks and poverty. Thus, protecting ecosystems—which involves rehabilitating forests, cleaning rivers, and stopping pollution, among other actions, must be done now.

“The government has been instituting reforms that promote inclusive growth and everyone is enjoined to support these initiatives because like our forefathers, who shared the vision of independence and united towards its fulfillment, we can only free our nation from poverty if we all work together to make good use of the opportunities that come with an improving economy,” Legarda concluded.

Anti-bullying bill OK’d on third reading

MANILA-A bill authored by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV seeking to institutionalize policies against bullying in all primary and secondary schools has been approved on final reading in the Senate.
If this becomes a law, schools will be mandated to adopt policies to address all forms of bullying, implement disciplinary actions and establish a system of reporting.
“Bullying remains to be a serious and prevalent problem in our schools today,” said Trillanes, principal author of the bill in the Senate. “Studies have shown that aside from the physical harm it may cause, bullying can cause psychological and psychosomatic problems among victims and perpetrators, which could cause greater problems in our society later on.”
“With this bill, I hope that bullying will be addressed through the proactive measures and policies which will be adopted by all schools in the country,” Trillanes added.
In the approved bill, bullying is defined as the “severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another student that has the effect of actually causing or placing the latter in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to his property; creating a hostile environment at school for the other student; infringing on the rights of the other student at school; or materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”
The bill likewise directs the Department of Education to include activities that will enhance the knowledge and skills of teachers, school administrators, and employees on preventing and addressing bullying acts in its training programs.
“I have been fighting bullies in our government. And I believe that bullying in our society will be eradicated if we start addressing it in our schools, where our children’s values are shaped and where unlikely behaviors may develop as result of such acts. Thus, it must be our collective concern to shield our children from abusive behavior and from the vicious cycle of bullying and violence especially during their formative years,” added Trillanes, who is a father of two school children.

Legarda Prioritizes OFW Welfare in Ushering Approval of 16 Treaties

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda has ushered the Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of sixteen (16) international agreements highlighted by the adoption of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), both of which strengthen the protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“In reviewing treaties and sponsoring the same for the Senate’s concurrence, our utmost concern is that these agreements will be beneficial to both the nation and our OFWs. With millions of Filipinos working in foreign nations, it is our duty to ensure that their rights and welfare are protected. The ILO Convention 189 and the Maritime Labour Convention are among the treaties that bring a multitude of benefits to our OFWs, particularly domestic workers and seafarers,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The ILO Convention 189 Concerning Domestic Workers demands that there should be a contract between the domestic worker and employer that states the employee’s salary, reasonable hours of work, provision for food and shelter, weekly rest and vacation, and other terms and conditions of employment clearly understood by both parties. It also upholds their right to form or join workers’ organization and enter into collective bargaining.

The Convention also ensures that domestic workers, especially those working abroad, are able to keep in their possession their travel and identity documents.

As a sending country, the Philippines can also engage host countries that are signatories to the Treaty in an agreement that will prevent abuses and fraudulent practices in recruitment, placement, and employment of domestic workers.

Meanwhile, the MLC, considered as the seafarers’ bill of rights, consolidates and updates, in one Convention, 68 international labor standards related to the maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years.

The MLC covers basic rights such as freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

It also demands employers to provide for seafarer a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; fair terms of employment; decent working and living conditions on board ship; health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.

This Convention covers not just the crew involved in navigating or operating the ship but also, other workers including cabin and cleaning personnel, bar staff, waiters, entertainers, singers, kitchen staff, casino personnel and estheticians—positions occupied by thousands of Filipinos in foreign vessels.

“We aim to provide better protection for our workers in the country and those working in other nations. We do not want them to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and any form of abuse. In adopting these agreements, the country is making significant strides in protecting Filipino workers,” Legarda stressed.

The Senate in the 15th Congress also approved the following treaties reported and sponsored by Legarda:

·      The Philippines-Japan Agreement on Technical Cooperation
·      The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
·      The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)
·      Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)
·      The Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management to Establish the Office of the WorldFish Center in the Philippines (ICLARM)
·      Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the Philippines and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
·      MLAT between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China
·      Consular Agreement with the People’s Republic of China
·      Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain
·      Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Australia concerning the Status of Visiting Forces of the other State (SOVFA)
·      The Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippine Government and the French Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income
·      The Philippines-Kuwait Treaty on the Avoidance of Double Taxation
·      The Philippines-Qatar Treaty on the Avoidance of Double Taxation
·      The Agreement between the Philippine Government and the UNESCO to establish the Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA CLLSD) in the country


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