Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Drilon: Senate will follow law on suspension order against colleagues

MANILA-The Sandiganbayan’s order of suspension against Senator Jinggoy Estrada has been received by the Office of the Senate President this afternoon, announced Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

“As with the case of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, we will implement the order. We have no recourse but to implement it,” said Drilon.

“The Senate is left with no recourse but to implement the order immediately in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Santiago v. Sadiganbayan in 2001, where the SC categorically held that the Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act does not exclude from its coverage the members of Congress, hence a Senator may be preventively suspended,” Drilon, a lawyer and former justice secretary, explained.

“There is a clear legal precedent for following the implementation of the suspension order. The Senate has a responsibility to follow the law, and we will follow it,” said Drilon.

The Senate leader said that the primary legal basis for the implementation of Senator Enrile’s suspension was the said Supreme Court ruling promulgated in April 2001.

It can be recalled that in January 25, 1996, the Sandiganbayan ordered the suspension of Senator Santiago from her position as the Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.

Drilon recalled that upon receipt of the Resolution, then Senate President Ernest Maceda reported the same to the plenary and such was referred to the Committees on Rules and Ethics and Privileges.

Through Committee Report No. 321, the Committees concluded that the Senate does not have the power or authority to suspend any Member, except for disorderly behavior and, only with the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all its Members, for a period not exceeding sixty days.

The Committee further argued that the Sandiganbayan cannot order the Senate to implement the suspension of a Senator without violating the Separation of Powers and that the Sandiganbayan Resolution per se is not sufficient to warrant the suspension by the chamber of Senator Santiago.

However, five years later, the Supreme Court in April 2001 upheld the power of the Sandiganbayan to suspend Santiago, Drilon said.

Ciiting the SC ruling, Drilon thus clarified that the order of the Sandiganbayan to suspend Senators Enrile and Estrada is distinct from the Constitutional power of Congress to discipline its members.
“The order of suspension prescribed by Republic Act No. 3019 is distinct from the power of Congress to discipline its own ranks under the Constitution which provides that each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its members, suspend or expel a member,” said Drilon citing the SC ruling.

“There is no violation of the separation of powers, and that the Sandiganbayan did not undermine the authority of the Senate to discipline its members because the Constitutional provision deals with suspension as a punitive penalty,” the SC ruling said.

“The ruling said that the suspension contemplated in the above constitutional provision is a punitive measure that is imposed upon determination by the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, upon an erring member,” pointed out Drilon.

On the other hand, the Sandiganbayan’s order is a preventive suspension based on the plunder law: “Preventive Suspension is a remedial measure that operates under closely-controlled conditions and gives a premium to the protection of the service rather than to the interests of the individual office holder,” concluded Drilon, citing the SC ruling.

El Niño to cut down Pantabangan Dam’s water supply to CL farms to 40% -- Umali

JAEN, Nueva Ecija – The dreaded El Niño phenomenon is seen to cut the supply of irrigation from the Pantabangan Dam to Central Luzon farmlands down to only 40%.

          Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali told farmers during a gathering in this town that only 44,000 hectares out of the more than 100,000 hectares agricultural lands in the province, Pampanga and Bulacan would be able to receive irrigation water due to El Niño whose effects are likely to be felt in the last quarter of the year.

          He said this projection was arrived at following his dialogue with officials of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems, the operator of the Pantabangan Dam. “This is a big blow to farmers so we have to prepare them for this worse-case scenario,” he said.

Umali said the provincial government is pushing through with its water summit next week to prepare Nueva Ecija against the adverse effects of the dreaded El Niño phenomenon on food production and water supply in the country’s rice granary.

He said if not addressed, this will impact on food security targets on a nationwide scale.

          The summit, originally scheduled last July 30, was deferred as the provincial government convened various agencies towards formulating an action plan against El Niño.

          Umali said he has utilized his intelligence funds for the de-silting of the Peñaranda River to ensure smooth delivery of irrigation water while the province braces for El Niño.

In late July, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration advised Filipinos to prepare for below normal rainfall in the last quarter of the year, as scientists are predicting the development of a “weak to moderate” El Niño during the period.

          Pagasa administrator Vicente Malano said below normal rainfall is likely in most areas of Luzon and the Visayas while near normal rainfall conditions are expected over Cagayan, Camarines Norte, Albay, Eastern and Central Visayas and most areas of Mindanao in the months of October, November and December.

          The last time El Niño hit the country was in 2009 and experts said the phenomenon happens every four to five years.

Umali said the province will have to be prepared for El Niño particularly since water elevation in the Pantabangan Dam continues to drop.

          In the last week of July, water level at the dam was at 179.04 meters above sea level (masl) and according to the National Irrigation Administration, it would take only 22 days of zero rainfall for the water level to shrink to its critical level of 171 masl, which happened nearly two decades ago.

          The water level rose above 180 masl only because the provincial government initiated cloud-seeding operations in partnership with First Gen. Corp. and other private entities. 

          Yesterday, water level at the dam was at 186.2 masl, according to UPRIIS operations manager Reynaldo Puno.

The water summit will try to identify the areas in the province which will potentially be hit hard by the prolonged dry spell and mitigate its impact on local farmers. It will also come out with projection on the extent of damage.

Umali said farmers will be included in the consultations because they are the ones who will bear the brunt of El Niño.

The provincial government is also looking at tapping other alternative sources of irrigation water to lessen the province’s dependence on the Pantabangan Dam.

          With the dam not fully operational, the utilization of the Peñaranda River, the Tayabo Dam and other upstream water sources to augment supply is also being explored. (Manny Galvez)

Legarda: 2nd National IP Summit to Highlight Strengths, Concerns of IPs

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that the 2nd National Indigenous Peoples Cultural Summit will be a venue where IPs will not only raise their pressing concerns but also be engaged in improving policies and programs that will benefit indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) in the country.

“The main goal of this event is to ensure that the programs of our government and the laws we craft are attuned with the distinctive needs of our IPs. This is a venue where our IPs can engage in dialogue with government agencies, civil society organizations, academe and the donor community,” said Legarda.

The 2nd National IP Cultural Summit, which will be held from September 2-5, 2014, was organized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in partnership with Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities. Following the opening program today is a three-day intercultural exchange or workshop that will engage IPs in policy and program development, implementation and evaluation of programs for IPs and ICCs.

The Senator noted that basic services remain wanting in most geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. Further, the reported serious human rights violations, displacement from ancestral domain and destruction of natural environment and cultural values are among serious concerns.

“It is for these reasons that we continue to fight for policies and programs that would give our IPs the respect, recognition and opportunities due them. In coordination with the NCIP, I filed Senate Bill No. 2209 that will create resource centers for IPs. The centers shall serve as access centers to enhance delivery of basic, social, technical and legal services,” said Legarda.      

She added that other bills relevant to IPs include the Ethnic Origin Act that aims to provide accurate and disaggregated data on IPs through a clear definition of ethnicity, which is included in the national census of the Philippine Statistics Authority; theTraditional Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which seeks to make an inventory of all cultural properties and mandates the payment of royalties to IPs for the use of their cultural properties; and the Baybayin Act, which will mandate government offices to use Baybayin in their official logos in order to preserve and promote the Philippine traditional scripts.

“As we continue to promote measures that will benefit our indigenous communities, we urge our IPs to likewise continue to fight for their rights and to always protect our cultural heritage,” said Legarda.

“I hope that this National IP Cultural Summit, through the active involvement of our IPs, leads us to a clearer path on how we can confront the challenges and effectively build policies to protect the knowledge systems and practices of our indigenous peoples, provide them with more opportunities for growth and development, and to further promote our culture and heritage,” Legarda concluded.


Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".

Should the Philippine government legalize same-sex marriage?