Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Legarda: Climate Change Reality Compels Strengthened Adaptation, Resiliency Programs

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated the need for strengthened programs and effective coordination among government agencies to address climate change and disaster risks, which “are among the greatest challenges to human development the world faces today.”

Legarda, in a Senate hearing on the status of the release and use of calamity funds for 2013 and 2014, said that there should be close coordination between the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to ensure the efficient use of funds for post-disaster needs. But she also stressed that there will be less to rehabilitate and recover with effective disaster prevention and risk reduction programs.

“We know that prevention is better. We should see disaster risk reduction as a worthy investment, not a cost. The World Bank says that a dollar invested in prevention yields seven to fourteen dollars saved in response cost,” she explained.

Legarda said that various studies on climate change have repeatedly warned of the destructive effects of further rise in the Earth’s temperature. It would cause melting ice caps and flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions will become drier while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones and loss of biodiversity.

She noted that the May 6, 2014 New York Times article titled, Climate Change Study Finds U.S. Is Already Widely Affected,” stated that scientists have warned that the effects of climate change are being felt “in every corner of the United States with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.”

Legarda said that the report clearly shows that climate change affects all nations even a powerful country like the United States.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that, “throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”

Legarda said that the Philippines has been experiencing the effects of climate change with hotter temperatures, heavy rainfall even during summer months and stronger typhoons.

Furthermore, disasters have been taking a toll on the country’s development. Losses due to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 were equivalent to 2.7% of the country’s GDP, while losses due to typhoon Yolanda in 2013 are equivalent to about 5% of GDP.

“Natural hazards will happen whether we like it or not, but we can certainly reduce the impacts of these occurrences if we are better prepared. Furthermore, climate change impacts have resulted in disasters of unprecedented proportions, causing multiple losses—economic, social, political and even cultural. We can no longer dismiss the interconnection among the issues of climate change, disasters and poverty,” said Legarda.

The Senator said that a study by the Asian Development Bank revealed that the Philippines stands to lose 6% of its GDP annually by 2100 if it disregards climate change risks. But, if the country invests 0.5% of its GDP by 2020 in climate change adaptation, it can avert losses of up to 4% of its GDP by 2100.

“We have seen enough tragedies. Nobody can say we have not been warned. If we need to strengthen our laws on disaster risk reduction and management, we will do so. We must also give climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience efforts a fair share of the national budget and be placed among the priorities of government,” Legarda concluded.


MANILA-Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks judicial review from the Supreme Court following the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman denying his request to be furnished with copies of the affidavits of the whistleblowers and other respondents which were used as basis for the finding of probable cause to indict him for plunder in connection to his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In a 29-page Petition for Certiorari filed today, Sen. Estrada asks protection of his constitutional right to due process which the Ombudsman “grievously ignored, trampled upon and violated.”
Sen. Estrada lamented that the anti-graft body’s finding of probable cause was “premised on evidence not disclosed to him” and that he was effectively prevented from exercising his right to answer and to rebut the allegations made against him.
It can be recalled that Sen. Estrada filed his request last March 20 to be furnished with copies of counter-affidavits of the respondents, affidavits of new witnesses and other filings in order to “be apprised of the allegations of the other respondents and to be given notice of all the evidence presented” incident to the preliminary investigation.
Specifically, Sen. Estrada requested that he be formally furnished with the following documents: a) Affidavit of Ruby Tuason; b) Affidavit of Dennis Cunanan; c) Counter-affidavit of Gondelina Amata (President of the National Livelihood Development Corp.); d) Counter-affidavit of Mario Relampagos (Undersecretary for Operations of the Department of Budget and Management); e) Consolidated reply of the NBI; f) Affidavit/counter-affidavits/pleadings/filings filed by other respondents and/or additional witnesses for the complainants.
In an order dated March 27, 2014, the Ombudsman flatly denied the request, declaring that there was supposedly no requirement that Sen. Estrada be provided copies of the aforementioned documents.
Sen. Estrada said that the Ombudsman violated its own Rules of Procedure in refusing to furnish copies of affidavits and other filings that touch upon the charges upon him.
The Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman expressly and unequivocally grant any person charged before it the right to access to the records of the preliminary investigation.
In his petition, Sen. Estrada also cited a Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of the person under investigation by the Ombudsman to be furnished not only the evidence presented by the complainant, but also those presented by co-respondents that are material to the charge against him.
The act of the Ombudsman is “not just a procedural misstep but is tantamount to an absolute refusal to perform a positive duty imposed by law and constitutes grave abuse of discretion,” the petition reads.
“By intentionally withholding filings in its possession, including pieces of evidence it eventually used in precipitately deciding on the existence of probable cause, Ombudsman violated the right of Sen. Estrada to be apprised of the records of the case pertinent to the charges against him,” the petition further states.

Senate commends 9 outstanding women

MANILA-The Senate adopted a resolution commending the winners of the 2013 Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS), sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. and Metrobank Card Corporation.
Senate Resolution 376, authored by Senator Lito Lapid, recognizes the contributions of the awardees in shaping the country’s future and promoting economic, social and cultural development.
The awardees are Kristin Karen Davila for Media, Maria Rachelle Gerodias for Performing Arts, Ma. Amihan Ramolete for Theater Arts, Noraida Karim for Social Work , Eleanor Pinugu for Sodal Entrepreneurship and Education, Ani Karina de Leon- Brown for Sports, Gemma Nerisma for Atmospheric Science, Maricor Soriano for Applied Physics , and Atty. Darlene Berberabe for Government Service. 
Davila is a broadcast journalist for ABS-CBN while Gerodias is a voice professor at the University of Santo Tomas. On the other hand, Ramolete is an associate professor of the University of the Philippines – Diliman while Karim is deputy director for Philippine Programe of Community and Family Services International (CFSI). Pinugu is the executive director of the Mano Amiga Academy, Inc.; Brown is the race director for the IRONKIDS PHILIPPINES Sun Rise Events Inc., sporting event; Nerisma is an associate professor of the Ateneo de Manila University; Soriano is a professor at the University of the Philippines – Diliman while Berberabe is the president and chief executive officer of the Home Development Mutual Fund (PAG-IBIG Fund).
Senate President Franklin Drilon thanked the women for “their undeniable efforts towards a building a stronger nation, and for serving as worthy inspiration to the millions of Filipinas who share the dream of a better and more prosperous Philippines.” 
The TOWNS award is granted to exemplary women every three years.
“This year's winners will join the ranks of remarkable women honored by the Foundation over the last 39 years and will automatically become members of TOWNS Foundation, Inc., which is a national organization "of dynamic and effective women who by their common shared activities help transform the lives of Filipinos,” the Senate resolution stated.
The nine winners, chosen out of 51 nominees, went through a rigorous screening process and were selected by the board of judges headed by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno and members, Dr. William Padolina (renowned biologist, chairman of the board of Euro-Med Laboratories Philippines Inc., and former secretary of the Department of Science and Technology), Dr. Esperanza Cabral (former secretary of the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development), Lilia de Lima (PEZA director general and chairman of the board), and Nestor Jardin (president of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc. and former President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines). (Olive Caunan)

Drilon rallies Senate for swift action on pending bills

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon urged his colleagues in the Upper Chamber to fast-track and bring at the soonest to the Senate floor the various proposed legislation which both houses of Congress agreed to pass before their sine die adjournment in June.

Drilon said that urgent attention given by Congress to the 16 bills is a reflection of the government's understanding of the real and most crucial needs of every Filipino family which are accessible education for the youth and a reliable health coverage system for our elderly.

"We must work extra hard in getting these bills enacted on time, so that our citizenry could immediately enjoy the expected legislated benefits such as scholarship program, job opportunities through ladderized education, and enhanced health care coverage especially for all senior citizens,” said Drilon.

“Remember that if we are to regain the confidence and trust of our people in the Senate which was eroded due to the pork barrel controversy, the best way is to show them that we are a performing institution that gives justice to every peso of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. We can do so by putting in a legislative performance that shows genuine service to the nation,” he added.

Topping the priority list are six legislative measures that would ensure a more accessible and quality educational system throughout the country. These include the “Iskolar ng Bayan Act” authored by Senate Majority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano which mandates all state universities and colleges to provide automatic admission and scholarship to top 10 graduating high school students across the country, and the National Student Loan Program which would tap banks and lending institutions to grant loans to financially-challenged college students.

The Congress will also institutionalize the open distance education in the country through the Open Learning through Distance Education in Post-Secondary Education and Tertiary Levels and Open High School System for Out of School Youth bills.

The Congress also agreed to pass a bill instituting a ladderized education for students taking up technical and vocational (tech-voc) courses aimed at integrating tech-voc education and higher education and creating more job opportunities for skilled graduates.  

It likewise plans to institutionalize the establishment of special education centers throughout the country “to address the special needs of differently-abled students.”

"The Congress recognizes the need for laws that will make education more attainable for all and we can make it happen when we address the biggest barriers that hinder the delivery of education throughout the country such as poverty, distance and age,” explained Drilon.

The Senate leader rallied his fellow senators to pass the health-related bills on Congress' priority list. He cited the picture-based health warning act, amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and the expansion of Philhealth coverage for senior citizens as among the measures that “will advance the health of millions of Filipinos.”

"I share the belief that the country's elderly population must be provided with the accessible and sufficient health care that will help them in their twilight years, and we can attain it by enrolling every senior citizen in Philhealth,” said Drilon.

Under the proposed expanded Philhealth law, the government, through the National Health Insurance Fund, will shoulder the enrolment of all senior citizens in the country.

The Congress will also impose stiffer penalty for poaching and other illegal fishing activities to protect the country’s fishing industry and other marine resources by amending the Fisheries Code.

Also on the list are the amendments to the Sandiganbayan law and the extension of the Philippine National Railway’s charter, and the creation of the Quezon City Development Authority.

Lastly, the Congress is set to postpone by another year the Sangguniang Kabataan elections. 

2 cops indicted for ‘rub-out’ of neighbor

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija–The Philippine National Police have filed murder charges against two of its own men tagged for the fatal shooting of their neighbor here Friday evening, allegedly peppering him with 15 gunshots even when he was already lying on the pavement in a possible case of rub-out.

           Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves, PNP provincial director, said the information for murder was filed before the city prosecutor’s office here against SPO1 Edgar Cruz, 42, and PO1 Mark Levi Panlilio, both of Barangay Bangad here.

           The two were tagged for the killing of Ricarte Evangelista, 44, driver, also of the same place. The victim sustained 15 bullet wounds and died while being operated on.

           Police Superintendent Pedro Soliba, police station commander, said Cruz is assigned at the San Jose Del Monte police while Panlilio with the provincial public safety office.

          They were also rushed to the Nueva Ecija Doctor’s Hospital with hack wounds and are facing arrest once discharged.

           Police said Evangelista was shot by the two at 10:30 pm Friday.
           Prior to the incident, Evangelista’s children were being chased by the two lawmen for allegedly being drunk. The kids’ mother tried to pacify the lawmen when           Evangelista intervened, triggering a confrontation.

           Police said the duo went home and brought their guns and shot Evangelista.     

           Recovered from the encounter scene were 15 shells for caliber 45 and caliber 9mm and deformed slugs.

           Soliba said the case would have qualified as simple homicide but there were signs superior power was used in the killing of the victim.

           “There was even a report that Evangelista was already sprawled on the floor when the suspects kept on shooting him,” he said.

          He said while the two lawmen claimed they were hacked, there was no one to corroborate the hacking incidents. (Manny Galvez)


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