Thursday, September 4, 2014
CAMP AQUINO, Tarlac City- Five (5) suspected members of the remnants of New People’s Army were killed and six (6) high-powered were recovered by elements of 41st Infantry Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in a fierce encounter at vicinity Brgy. Guinguinanbang, Lacub, Abra this morning, September 04, 2014.
Recovered firearms consist of 2- M653, 2- M16, 1-Carbine, 1 Garand rifle, and 1- cal.45 pistol and 2- ICOM radios.
One of those killed was identified as Arnold Jaramillo alias Ka Mando, Secretary of the Abra Provincial Party Committee and a notorious NPA leader in the province.
The military troops led by Captain Dionizer Mark D. Delos Santos, while conducting combat operation in said barangay were able to locate the group of New People’s Army (NPA) remnants temporarily encamped thereat.
The exchange of fire began at 5:40am and until this time (9:55am) is still on-going.
Close Air Support was immediately provided to the engaged government troops for possible insertion of additional forces and medical evacuation.
LtGen Felicito Virgilio M Trinidad Jr, NOLCOM Commander said, “The success of combat operation in Abra is a manifestation of the good relationship between the Government forces and civilian community”. He added, “The civilian community is the source of information about the presence of NPA team in said area”.
Lt. Gen. Trinidad congratulated the 41IB headed by Batallion Commander Lt. Col.Virgilio M Noora (INF) GSC for the successful combat operation that resulted to heavy casualties on the NPA side and recovery of high- powered firearms and other war materiel.
There were no casualties on the Government side indicating excellent execution of combat SOPs by the operating Army elements.
Based on the report, pursuit operation is still conducted by 41IB, 5ID.
What about the PNR?
While its focus – and resources – seem to be concentrated on the breakdown-prone Metro Rail Transit, Sen. Ralph Recto said government should also turn its attention to MRT’s poor cousin – the Philippine National Railways, “an aging workhorse which still ferries 25 million passengers yearly.”
“Kahit konting pagtingin sana mabigyan ang PNR,” Recto said, citing the wide disparity in the proposed budgetary support between the two rail lines.
While the MRT is slated to receive at least P6.7 billion in subsidy in 2015, the PNR will only get P546 million, based on the proposed 2015 national budget.
Even in rehabilitation, something like P54 billion is being floated around as the amount needed to fix MRT’s problems, Recto said.
“In contrast, nobody it seems is officially lobbying for more funds for the PNR. One gets the feeling that while one is on its way to modernization, the other is bound for the scrap yard,” Recto lamented.
But Recto warned that “to ignore PNR is to forfeit on its potentials.”
He explained that just doubling the number of its trains plying the 44-kilometer Tutuban, Manila- Sta. Rosa, Laguna line could raise its daily ridership to 140,000.
“This is one-fourth the number of passengers taking the MRT everyday. Adding more PNR trips will relieve the pressure on MRT and give many commuters an alternative,” Recto said.
Recto said next year’s subsidy for PNR of P546 million won’t allow it to rehabilitate more trains.
“According to the PNR management, it needs about P600 million to put three trains, with three to four coaches and an engine each, back in service,” Recto said.
“If this is indeed the cost, then I would urge the government to include it in the 2015 national budget,” he said. “It should also study the option of buying new ones.”
“In terms of potential ridership, PNR’s quoted amount in repairing some of its rolling stock is way cheaper than, say, building a road and buying buses. According to the DPWH , P600 million can only build you 30 kilometers or even less of a one-lane highway,” Recto said.
Doubling PNR’s rolling stock will displace 14,000 cars on the road at a per passenger cost that is 1/8th of the subsidy government pays for one MRT rider, the senator pointed out.
Government subsidizes PNR passengers to the tune of P5 each while it is P40 per rider over at the MRT.
At present, PNR’s Tutuban-Sta. Rosa service, a fraction of its once extensive 1,110-kilometer network, operates from 5 a.m to 7 p.m daily with 23 stops in between.
MANILA-Amid the spate of kidnapping cases involving students in the country, Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the immediate passage of a bill that would put in place tighter security on campuses nationwide.
Senate Bill 197 or the Campus Safety Act seeks to establish a Crime Prevention Committee (CPC) in all colleges and universities tasked to formulate policies and strategies that will help protect students from threats to their safety and security.
"Schools should be conducive to learning and intellectual discourse, not venues for violence and crime. We must ensure a safe and secure environment for students to pursue their studies within these institutions without fear for their physical well-being," Angara said.
Under the measure, the CPC shall formulate and implement crime prevention programs concerning campus safety and campus law enforcement to prevent the incidence of kidnapping, theft, rape and other forms of violence within and outside the school.
Statistics from the Philippine National Police's (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) show that 18 kidnap-for-ransom cases were recorded in Luzon from January to August this year, one case more than the same period in 2013. With these 18 cases, 22 victims are involved compared to last year's 25.
According to PNP, the AKG has solved a total of 20 cases in the last two years, with 13 other cases still ongoing.
Kidnap-for-ransom syndicates usually target Filipino-Chinese students and businessmen. Some of the victims' families opt to not report the incident anymore to police authorities out of fear of retaliation from the perpetrators.
The senator has called on to the PNP for additional police presence especially during rush hour and school pickup hours when many kidnappings occur.
"It's alarming that student kidnappings happen in broad daylight. This could have been prevented if only there were strict school security measures in place," said Angara, a father of three.
"Our proposed measure aims to arm our students the know-how on courses of action in case of emergency to guarantee security and ensure expedient response and assistance from the authorities," he added.
MANILA-With an above-normal water level at 17.28 meters and continuing heavy rains, the Bustos Dam will not need as of now additional water releases from the Angat Dam to sustain farming activities in Pampanga and Bulacan unless it will reach a 14.0-meter water level, Engr. Precioso Punzalan of NIA Region 3 said.
This current level is relatively higher compared to 14.80 meters more than a week ago when NIA requested doubling-up of water allocated for irrigation from the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) on August 23 due to lack of rain. An allocation of 42 cubic meters per second (cms) for 5 days and 21 cms thereafter until the end of August from the Angat Dam is sought to sustain irrigation needs of farmlands of about 14,751 hectares, that if not sustained with water will tantamount to production loss equivalent to P1.25B of farmers, in Region 3 for its wet cropping season.
But on August 25, NIA asked that water releases from Angat be stopped because Bustos Dam is already in its full capacity due to heavy rains. On August 29, Angat totally stopped the release of irrigation water.
As of August 15, the total irrigated area in Region 3 is 77,000 hectares. Out of the total area, 54,000 hectares is under Crop Monitoring – Vegetative Stage; 10,000 hectares under Crop Monitoring – Reproductive Stage; and 13,000 hectares under Land Soaking and Land Preparation. Since Bustos Dam is in its full capacity, and if heavy rains will continue, NIA is optimistic that it will not request more releases from Angat until harvest period.
Angat Dam, as of writing time, has a 182.69-meters water level – 2.69 meters above the dam’s Minimum Operating Water Level (MOWL) of 180 meters.
The Senate today adopted two resolutions commending outstanding Filipino athletes for winning the golf and archery tournaments in California and China.
Sen. Manuel Lapid, who introduced Resolution No. 843, said Harmie Nicole Constantino, Carl Jano Corpus, Annyka Chanel Pineda-Cayabyab, Andrew Chua and the rest of the Philippine contingent to the 2014 Veritas World Junior International Golf Tournament, made the country proud when they won in their respective divisions of the competitions held at the Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena, California last July 19-24.
He said the Girls’ 13 division was dominated by Filipino junior golfers led by gold medalist Constantino, Asiah Marie Nocum and Kyla Nocum, who finished in the 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
On the other hand, Lapid said Corpus bagged the gold medal in the Boys’ 12 division, scoring 217 while Cayabyab and Chua, the team’s youngest victor, finished first in the Girls’ 10 division and the Boys’ 7 divisions respectively.
He said Annika Bianca Cedo, Samantha Green, Raymart Tolentino and Richnell Albano each got a silver medal in the Girls’ 15, Girls’ 14, Boys’ 17 and Boys’ 14 divisions respectively while Samantha Andrea Martirez, Josh Jorge and Sean Dominique Granada each won a bronze medal in the Girls’ 16, Boys’ 11 and Boys’ 9 divisions respectively.
The Senate also approved Resolution 861, authored by Lapid in consideration of Resolution 871, introduced by Sen. Sonny Angara, commending 16 year-old Gabriel Luis Moreno for winning the first Olympic gold medal in the 2nd Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, last Aug. 24.
Lapid, who also introduced Resolution 861 in consideration of Resolution 871, said Moreno holds the distinction of being the first Filipino gold medalist in the Youth Olympic Games and deserves to be commended for the honor and recognition he has brought to the country.
“The Senate of the Philippines congratulates and commends our Filipino junior golfers and archer for winning in the international tournaments and for making our country proud,” Lapid said.
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today stressed that the Senate is not above the law and that the implementation of the Sandiganbayan’s decision to suspend his colleagues is in full adherence to the country’s anti-graft and plunder laws.
“We are not above the law. Neither the Senate nor the senators are above the law,” said Drilon during an interview with Bombo Radyo today.
“We will adhere to the rule of law,” stressed Drilon, a lawyer and former justice secretary.
“Susundin po natin ang batas. Kami po ang gumagawa ng batas, kaya kailangan nating ipakita sa taumbayan na tayo po ay susunod,” he emphasized.
(We will comply with the law. As members of Congress, we must be the first to follow the law, and we must serve as an example to the Filipino people by being obedient to the laws that we create and pass.)
The Senate leader reiterated that the Supreme Court already ruled in 2001 that the nation’s anti-graft law is applicable to the members of Congress.
“The decision of the Senate President to implement the Sandiganbayan’s order of suspension against Senators Juan Ponce Enrle and Jinggoy Estrada is in obedience to the anti-graft and plunder laws which we in the Congress crafted and passed,” said Drilon.
“The Supreme Court categorically held that Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) does not exclude from its coverage the members of Congress. The Supreme Court is clear that the preventive suspension can be applied to all members of Congress,” he explained, noting that the Plunder Law contains an identical provision on preventive suspension.
“Ito ay ginawa natin dahilan sa the Senate is not above the law. Kung ano po yung batas ay susundin natin. Noong 2001 pa lang, nagpahayag na ang Supreme Court sa isang kaso na ang anti-graft at ang plunder law ay sakop ang mga miyembro ng Kongreso –senador ka man o congressman,” said Drilon.
(We are doing this because the Senate is not above the law. We have to follow the law. As early as 2001, the Supreme Court, has already resolved that the anti-graft and plunder laws covers the members of the legislative branch – whether you are a senator or a congressman is not a consideration.)
“All of us should be subject to the laws we pass,” he concluded.
MANILA-The Congress is eyeing the passage of two major bills aimed at alleviating tax impositions on Filipino workers and increasing their take-home pay within the 16th Congress, according to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.
“The Congress is aware of the necessity to revisit our existing tax structure which has remained unchanged since 1997. The Congress is committed to pass legislation which will lower individual income taxes in order to help our workers in dealing with the effect of inflation,” said Drilon.
“If the salary hike that our workers have been asking the government to provide is not yet possible due to fiscal constraints, a legislation that will increase the workers’ net take-home pay is the best alternative we can work on,” he added.
The first bill which will receive urgent legislative attention, according to Drilon, is the one that will lower the rates of individual income tax and adjust individual income tax brackets. The proposed measure is being heard in the Committee on Ways and Means of both houses of Congress.
The Senate leader also warned that in 2018, if Congress fails to plug loopholes in the nation's existing tax system, the lowest ranking government employees will find themselves paying under the same tax bracket as the next Philippine President himself.
The same will be the case for entry level employees of an average corporation who will share the 32% tax rate with the executives and top officers of their company, who obviously earn way much more.
Both scenarios will be inconsistent with the requirement of the Constitution for a progressive system of taxation, said Drilon.
Drilon further stressed: “If we do not seriously study our tax system and make the necessary adjustment, by 2018 everyone will pay the same tax rate which is not progressive as what the Constitution mandated. This is the sort of unjust ways of taxation that we will need to prevent.”
Under Article VI, Section 28 of the 1987 Constitution, it states that (1) “the rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation.”
"We at Congress are ready to work on any proposed measure that can help the average Filipino in their daily expenses. The lowering of tax rates may affect the nation's overall revenue collection, but it will increase the purchasing power of our countrymen and it will be of great convenience for them,” said Drilon.
“When we increase their purchasing power, we could also expect an increase in the household spending that will contribute in the country’s overall economic growth,” he added.
The Congress will also pass a bill which will raise the tax exemption limit on the 13th month pay and other work benefits of all workers in the public and private sector.
“We have an agreement with the House of Representatives that we will pass this bill within the year, so that Christmas could be merrier for our workers,” said Drilon.
The proposed measure intends to raise the exclusion limit on an individual’s 13th month pay, Christmas bonus, and other work benefits from income taxation from the current imposed limit of P30, 000 to P75,000.
“There is really a need to revisit the antiquated provisions of the Republic Act No. 7833 which imposed the P30,000 cap on bonuses back in 1994,” said Drilon.