17th Congress closing rites to be held for outgoing members

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2019   •   1512

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

More than 70 members of the House of Representatives are “graduating” on June 5 this year when the regular session of 17th Congress adjourns.

These outgoing lawmakers, which make up less than a fourth of the current 294 House membership, are on their third and last term.

They include former House Majority leader Rudy Fariñas, who backed out of the 2019 gubernatorial race in Ilocos Norte two weeks before the midterm polls.

READ: Marcos scion now unopposed in Ilocos Norte after Fariñas’ withdrawal from race

67-year old Fariñas said in a statement he wants to retire from politics, adding that one of his children will seek for a congressional seat in the next elections.

Fariñas started his foray in the political arena when ran and won as mayor of Laoag City in 1980.

“Yes. I did not really want to run for any office as I want to retire on June 30 – after 39 years since I started as Laoag City Mayor on March 3, 1980, at the age of 27,” he said.

Former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is also on his third and last term as a congressman. The 82-year old solon also opted to resign as a member of the Liberal party in preparation for his retirement from politics.

“After careful and deliberate consultations with my family and our constituents, and in preparation for my quiet retirement from politics,” he said in a statement.

Incumbent House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will also be ‘graduating’ when the 17th Congress adjourn next month.

When asked whether she is retiring from public office soon, she replied with: “I will write my memoirs. That’s all I know.”

The former president also refused to endorse any solon who will likely succeed her in the 18th Congress.

“I don’t want to comment on the next Congress because I am not going to be a part of it,” she said in a message.

Among the names that are emerging for the House Speakership race are Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Leyte 4th district Rep. Lucy Torres, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

The “graduation” ceremony will be held on the day of the 17th Congress sine adjournment on June 5. Third-termers will be given a graduation medal as they reached their term limit as congressmen/women.

The 18th Congress will open on July 22 which will be the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address. (with details from Grace Casin)

House passes bill seeking stiffer penalties vs child abusers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to impose stiffer penalties against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.

With 228 affirmative and zero negative votes, the Lower Chamber on Monday passed the House Bill No. 137 or the proposed “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.”

The bill, which would amend parts of the Republic Act No. 7610, aims to deter exploitation and further promote the best interest of the child.

The measure proposes penalties for the following unlawful acts done against children:

  • Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce, or coerce a child to perform in obscene publications and indecent shows shall suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period, and reclusion temporal in its maximum period if the said person is an ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of the child. If the child is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be Reclusion Perpetua in its maximum period.
  • Imprisonment of six months to a minimum of one year to six years or a fine between P100,000.00 to P300,000.00 for child labor practices.
  • Section 12 of R.A. No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which provides for the penalties and sanctions for trafficked persons, shall now be imposed on the employment of trafficked children.
  • Discrimination of children from indigenous cultural communities shall now have a penalty of prison correctional in its medium period. A fine between P50,000.00 and P100,000.00 shall also be imposed.
  • The offender shall undergo a re-education and reorientation program on the Indigenous Peoples culture of the Philippines to be conducted by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

Under the bill, the penalties for other acts of abuse, cruelty, or exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development shall also be raised.

The approved measure is a consolidation of six bills.

The Senate version of the bill remains pending at the committee level.

House Speaker Cayetano vows impartial hearing on bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Robie de Guzman   •   February 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured that the House of Representatives will conduct impartial hearing on bills seeking to renew the franchise of media network ABS-CBN.

In a statement on Tuesday, Cayetano said the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise are among the issues that the Lower House has been “carefully studying from day one of the 18th Congress” amid calls from his colleagues to set a hearing to tackle the pending bills.

“Congress is committed to conduct a hearing where those who are against or in favor of the renewal may make their case,” he said, adding that the move will be consistent with the Duterte administration’s stand on the protection of the freedom of expression.

There are at least 11 bills seeking for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise pending before a House committee level, just about a month before Congress sessions adjourn on March 11. The network’s franchise is set to expire on March 30.

However, Cayetano stressed that the legislation process cannot be rushed.

“While we understand that there are certain interests who want to rush this process, we stand by the leadership of the 18th Congress and the Committee on Legislative Fanchises on how to prioritize urgent and important legislation,” he said.

“We also commit that the 18th Congress shall study this issue from all aspects in order to protect the interest of the public,” he added.

Cayetano issued the statement after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto case before the Supreme Court asking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN.

Calida cited in his plea the alleged highly abusive practices and violations of the broadcast network, including foreign ownership and lack of operation permits.

The network has denied the accusations, maintaining that it has no outstanding tax liability and did not violate the law.

House sets hearing on impact of COVID-19 on PH tourism

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

The House of Representatives will have a joint hearing on the impact of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 on Philippine tourism and travel industry.

The House Committee on Economic Affairs and the House Committee on Tourism will have a joint hearing on Wednesday (February 12) to get the views and perspectives of government officials and tourism stakeholders from the private sector on the issue.

According to Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) President Cesar Cruz about 50 percent of reservations in Boracay, Cebu and Palawan have been canceled as a result of the imposition of travel ban to and from China.

Philtoa estimates that the tourism industry has lost at least P10 billion so far.

Meanwhile, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) had a preliminary estimate that the economy might lose up to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or about P133 billion if the virus continues to spread.

House Speaker Alan Cayetano earlier expressed the need to ensure that tourism growth will not be derailed as a result of the travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 threat.—AAC

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