13 local bills increasing hospital bed capacity get Senate nod

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2021   •   247

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading 13 local hospital bills seeking to improve the delivery of health care services by increasing the bed capacity of several hospitals in the country.

The bills approved by the Senate cover the following hospitals:

  • Eastern Visayas Medical Center
  • Benjamin Romuladez General Hospital and Schistosomiasis Center
  • Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center
  • East Avenue Medical Center
  • Davao Occidental General Hospital
  • Eastern Pangasinan Regional Medical and Trauma Center
  • First Misamis Oriental General Hospital
  • Bacolod City General Hospital
  • Rosario District Hospital
  • Sinait District Hospital
  • Naguilian District Hospital in La Union
  • Senate President Neptali A. Gonzales General Hospital
  • Rizal, Palawan Lying-In Clinic

Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, who sponsored the measures, thanked his colleagues for supporting the approval of the bills.

He said the passage of the proposed legislations into law would ensure the stability of the national health care system by making sure that hospitals will have sufficient capacity resources and personnel to respond to the pandemic.

Go expressed hope that the bills would immediately be signed into law after hurdling the bicameral committee and be included in the budget for next year.

 

Senators laud Diaz for winning PH’s first Olympic gold medal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senators congratulated Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for winning the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal on Monday (July 26).

In separate statements, lawmakers including Senator Panfilo Lacson said Diaz has made more than history for winning the gold. She also brought national honor, national pride, and good news to the Philippines at a time we Filipinos need them most.

“Hidilyn has become a unifying and rallying point for us Filipinos, to carry the weight of the humongous problems we face,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva said Diaz literally lifted the Filipino nation and for having Lupang Hinirang be played again on the Olympic stage.

“Hidilyn etched her name in our country’s sporting history. She ended our Olympic gold medal drought, and set a new Olympic record,” he said.

Senator Sonny Angara, author and sponsor of National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Law, assured that Diaz and her coaches will receive cash rewards for winning gold in Tokyo. For Diaz, Angara said she will receive P10 million and an Olympic Gold Medal of Valor to be issued by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Meanwhile, for her coaches, they will receive the equivalent to 50% of the cash incentives for gold medalists or P5 million.

“The entire nation celebrates with Hidilyn for bringing home the elusive gold medal in the Olympics. This comes at a time when we are all longing for some good news,” Angara said. AAC

 

Senate opens third regular session of 18th Congress

Robie de Guzman   •   July 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday opened the third and last regular session of the 18th Congress ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) later in the day.

Thirteen senators personally attended the opening of the session while nine were virtually present.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III presided over the opening of the session.

In its third regular session, the Senate said it will work for the passage of 10 priority measures.

These include the Amendments to the Foreign Investment Acts (FIA), Amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE), Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.

The upper chamber will also prioritize the passage of Package 4 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) or the Passive Income Tax and Financial Intermediary Tax Act (PIFITA), Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act (Agri-Agra) and Package 3 of the CTRP or the Valuation Reform Bill.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said the Senate will work on the passage of the following measures: Modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Increasing the Statutory Rape Age Act, Military and Uniformed Personnel Insurance Fund Act, Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Extension Law and possibly the Bayanihan 3.

Just like last year, visitors and guests will not be allowed inside the Senate premises due to stringent health protocols and regulations.

Family members of senators, former senators, government officials, and media personalities will also not be allowed inside the gallery hall. Only selected Senate employees will be allowed inside to assist during the session.

After the morning session, Sotto will lead some senators to the House of Representatives for a joint session of Congress to hear Duterte’s SONA.

Sotto earlier said only eight senators will physically witness Duterte deliver his SONA due to restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

12 senators seek probe on troll farms spreading fake news on social media

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Twelve senators want to investigate reports that public funds are oiling the operation of troll farms that spread fake news and misinformation on social media.

The 12 senators signed the proposed Senate Resolution 768 asking the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry on the alleged state-backed and state-funded spreaders of fake information.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo Lacson, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva, on signing the resolution, said the issue should not be dismissed especially when the spread of fake news would heavily affect Filipino citizens.

Senator Panfilo Lacson previously reported that “a government undersecretary has been organizing internet troll farms across the country to target political rivals or those not aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.”

Based on the resolution, a social media troll is someone who creates conflict on various social media sites by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking an emotional response from other users

“Filipinos should know why government spends public funds on troll farm operators disguised as ‘public relations practitioners’ and ‘social media consultants’ who sow fake news rather than on Covid-19 assistance, health care, food security, jobs protection, education, among others,” reads the resolution.

Senator Francis Pangilinan stressed that misinformation and fake news do harm to the country especially as it faces the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We must not let pass the use of taxpayers’ money to malign and harass people who are critical to the government. This is dangerous for democracy, especially that elections are upcoming next year,” he said.

Advertising firms We Are Social and Hootsuite, in their 2020 annual report, found that Filipinos spend an average of four hours and 15 minutes each day on social media – topping the world rankings for the sixth straight year. The Philippines is also the highest in the world in internet usage with an average of 10 hours and 56 minutes. -AAC

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