Monday, October 20, 2014

Drilon urges: Renewed zeal for public service on Senate’s 98th Anniversary

MANILA-In celebrating the Senate’s 98th Anniversary, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today recalled the challenges that gripped the upper chamber throughout the previous year, and urged Senate employees to do their best in helping the institution regain public trust and credibility.

Drilon spoke before Senate employees in a ceremony held at the Senate on Monday morning, as part of the month-long celebration of the Senate of its 98th year of existence. The first iteration of the Philippine Senate was convened under the Philippine Legislature in 1916, during the American occupation.

In his address, Drilon recognized that the current senators of the 16th Congress were hit by “one of the fiercest political storms in recent history.”

“The First Regular Session of the 16th Congress was personally, the most difficult period of my public career. We were badly bruised from the constant public beatings because of the PDAF scandal,” Drilon said.  

“Our institution did not break or implode as some cynics predicted. It emerged from the crisis with a stronger resolve to give the best service possible to the nation and the Filipino people. We seized and turned it into an opportunity for introspection and reforms that would lead us to a higher level of public service,” he proudly told Senate employees.  

Drilon however assured Senate workers that the public is beginning to acknowledge the Senate’s efforts, noting the most recent SWS survey where the upper chamber has the greatest overall performance rating improvement – 18 points – higher than all of the other government institutions covered by the survey.

“We need to grab this opportunity and show to our people that indeed, the Senate is worthy of their trust,” the Senate leader then said.   

 He stressed the Senate’s vow to guard and perform its constitutional mandate and powers with renewed zeal in its 98th anniversary: “The Senate has shown and will continue to show to our people that their Senate listens and responds to their pressing concerns and constantly feels their pulse.”  

For the employees of the Senate, Drilon said that the institution “expects nothing from you but hard work, unwavering dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence.”

Harkening back to the Senate’s illustrious history, Drilon underscored that now is a good time for everyone to “reflect on the importance of this institution of democracy, as well as the legacy of former legislators and national leaders who taught us priceless lessons in public policy making and nation building.”

From its roots in the American period to its current iteration established under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Senate has been composed of the some of the most celebrated figures in Philippine history, including ten of the nation’s fifteen presidents, along with other noted statesmen and leaders of Philippine political thought, such as Benigno S. Aquino Sr., Claro M. Recto, and Jose W. Diokno.  

“I encourage you to honor the sterling qualities, monumental work, courage and integrity of the men and women who have once walked through the Senate’s august halls. They have always inspired us to put forth effective, coherent, relevant and timely laws,” Drilon said.

In the same ceremony, Drilon also took the time to thank Senate workers who were noted for their outstanding performance, and for their long years of service in the legislative branch.  

Quoting the late South African democracy idol Nelson Mandela, Drilon told the exemplary Senate employees that, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference that we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the live that we lead.”

"I encourage you all to remain tireless in rendering excellent service, the kind of service the Senate is known for throughout the years,” he then concluded.

Senate passes bill prohibiting development of chemical weapons

MANILA-The Senate today passed on third and final reading a bill which seeks to prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and at the same time establish a Philippine National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC).

“In our modern society, the use of chemical weapons, especially by non-state actors such as terrorists, poses a grave threat to international security,” said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2042, otherwise known as the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act.

The Philippines became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, the first disarmament agreement that provides for the elimination and prohibition of the development of chemical weapons. As of October 2013, 190 nations have already signed to be part of the endeavor.

Trillanes, chair of the Committee on National Defense and Security, said the measure aimed to provide a legislative framework for the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the country.

Furthermore, he said, SBN 2042 aimed to establish a separate and permanent bureau that “will serve as the national coordinating body for effective liaison with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Convention. The PNA-CWC will be the lead agency in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.”

 “Despite our efforts, we cannot fully implement its provisions in the country due to lack of a legislative framework that will give teeth to its implementation,” Trillanes said.

Under the proposed legislation, PNA-CWC will be comprised of the executive secretary as the chairperson and the secretary of national defense as the vice chairperson. Members will be the National Security Advisor and the secretaries of foreign affairs, justice, interior and local government, finance, health, environment and natural resources, agriculture, transportation and communications, trade and industry, science and technology and energy.

Once passed into law, violators face penalties of imprisonment of 12 years and one day to life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million for any person charged with any of the prohibited acts, according to Trillanes.

        “As a signatory to the Convention, the immediate passage of this bill is necessary to maintain our country’s commitment to international peace and security. It would be a vital step towards maintaining the peaceful and meaningful utilization of chemicals and the creation of a treaty regime which will ensure that governments from different states will fulfill their national obligation of implementing chemical disarmament and non-proliferation,” Trillanes said. (Apple Buenaventura)

Legarda Cites Germany’s Experience in Improving PHL’s Natural Resources Governance

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that the Philippines can learn a lot from Germany’s experience in natural resources management and improving relevant policies, particularly on land use planning, coastal protection, sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources and on Climate Change, made the statement following a study visit to Germany with fellow Philippine legislators and policymakers from October 12-17, 2014.

The German Government, through the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), extended the invitation to Philippine legislators as part of a project under the framework of the “Land Use Policy and Spatial Planning, Sustainable Forest Management, Adaptation to Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation” program supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Legarda said that the study tour provided important insights into natural resources management, which Philippine legislators can learn from especially since the Senate and the House of Representatives are working on several proposed measures, including the National Land Use Policy, Final Forest Limits Act, Protected Areas Declaration Act, and the Integrated Coastal Management Act.

“Germany’s experience highlights the strong coordination and open lines of communication between Federal (national), local governments, business and civil society. This should also be the case in our country. A national land use policy is crucial in the government’s current disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts. The cooperation and support of all sectors of society is crucial in crafting this measure and eventually effectively implementing the same,” she said.

“The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is currently studying the outcome documents of the public hearings on the National Land Use Policy and the Final Forest Limits Act. These two measures are complementary and with the valuable support of all sectors, the committee targets the approval of the bills by the Senate before the year ends,” Legarda added.

The Senator was also impressed with how Germany has been able to meet its ambitious greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets by pursuing both national and local policy measures that have focused on expanding wind and solar power, improving energy efficiency in the transport and construction sectors, promoting urban development measures, and preserving natural carbon sinks like forests.

Germany’s target is 14 percent reduction in 2020 compared to 1990 levels, 55 percent in 2030, 70 percent in 2040, and 85 percent by 2050. Germany is currently off by seven percent.

“I look forward to working with the German government to see how their initiatives could be adopted in the Philippines. Meanwhile, our agencies of government and local government units should boost efforts on natural resources management through the implementation of existing laws. We must link science and policy-making; finance mechanisms for climate and energy solutions—including energy efficiency, clean technology and green infrastructure investment; and enable the private business and financial community to support comprehensive climate and energy policies and to invest in climate and clean energy solutions,” said Legarda.


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