Cash assistance for farmers affected by rice tariffication urged

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019   •   400

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed his sentiments for local farmers who are suffering from the influx of imported rice in the country as a result of the government’s implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Pangilinan claimed that local farmers lose about P61.77B in a span of three months because rice prices continue to plummet due to the overflow of imported rice in markets.  

Thus, Pangilinan is calling for the immediate release of cash assistance to farmers so they could cope with their losses.

“Ang problema ng magsasaka ay problema ng pamilya (The local farmers’ problem is also the problem of families),” Pangilinan noted.

“Solusyunan natin itong paglubog ng kita ng magsasaka bilang isang pamilyang Pilipino (Let us find a solution to the farmers’ losses as one Filipino family),” he added.

The cash assistance, Pangilinan said, would not just help the farmers but the consumers as well as it would somehow ease rice prices in the market.

Pangilinan then called for a review of the Rice Tariffication Law and have it suspended.

Senate Committee on Finance Sonny Angara, meanwhile, assured that the law provides P10B-fund from importation taxes where cash assistance for farmers may be sourced out.

“Iyong rice tariff may pondo doon. Iyong makokolekta beyond P10-B ay ibibigay na as cash assistance sa mga magsasaka (The Rice Tariffication Law has funds. Collections beyond the P10B will be given as cash assistance for farmers),“ he said. MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Probe on surge of fake Facebook accounts sought in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is seeking a Senate investigation into the sudden proliferation of fake accounts on Facebook.

In filing Senate Resolution 444, Pangilinan urged the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry into the surge of Facebook accounts that use identities of students, government officials, journalists, and other users.

He noted that the sudden surge of dummy Facebook accounts follows the protests staged on the streets and online against the anti-terrorism bill.

“Some Facebook users reported to have received threats from said dummy accounts using their names. The threats even go as far as calling said users ‘terrorists’,” he said in a statement.

The senator said his resolution seeks to find out if there is a need to amend Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and other pertinent laws to make them more responsive to the situation.

The inquiry would also help determine “possible regulation of social media platforms, in accordance with the policy that respects the rights and freedoms of all Filipinos guaranteed by the Constitution.”

“It is the declared policy of the State to protect and safeguard the integrity of communications systems, networks, and databases, and the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and data stored therein, from all forms of misuse, abuse, and illegal access,” the resolution read.

The senator also underscored in the resolution the need to look into the country’s existing laws “to increase the extent of liability and possible regulation of service providers or content hosts such as Facebook and other social media platforms.”

“Legislation must be carefully crafted so as to balance the rights and freedoms accorded to every Filipino by the Constitution and the public interest to be protected from dangerous acts online,” Pangilinan said in the measure.

Facebook earlier said it is currently looking into the suspicious activity on its platform. The Department of Justice also said it will conduct its own investigation.

“We should not be utterly defenseless against social media manipulation and threats. We must use our laws to fight the fakes online,” Pangilinan said.

Delayed cash assistance to fallen, sickened medical frontliners dismayed Senators

Marje Pelayo   •   June 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Medical frontliners who will get infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in line of duty starting February 1, 2020, are entitled to receive a compensation of P100,000.

Meanwhile, relatives of those who will die of the disease will receive P1-million, according to Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act. 

But until now, none of the infected healthcare workers not even the relatives of those who succumbed to COVID-19 have received any amount from the government which dismayed several Senators. 

According to Senator Sonny Angara, the Department of Health (DOH) failed to come up with implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Law that is why they were not able to distribute the said financial aid to the supposed beneficiaries.

The Senator insisted that the DOH should not use the absence of an IRR as an excuse for not complying with the law. 

“It is really criminal. This neglect to pass and to delay these types of benefits,” Angara said. 

“These people, we keep praising them as our heroes but yet, it’s just mere lip service if we don’t give them anything material,” he added.

Senator Richard Gordon, meanwhile, stressed that providing aid to frontliners sickened or killed in the line of duty especially at this pandemic is something unquestionable. 

“You don’t need Implementing Rules and Regulations here. The law is very clear. Why should we distinguish? They have already died,” Gordon said. 

“A little investigation will tell us that you can pay them because they died because they were in the frontlines! That’s a no-brainer,” he added. 

Gordon noted that the COVID-19 death toll among healthcare workers has already reached 32 while two others are now severely or critically ill. 

Senator Kiko Pangilinan also expressed his dismay and called the matter ‘unacceptable and unforgivable.’

“They have already died. They have already suffered, and we continue to allow them to suffer more because of this failure and inaction on the part of the Department of Health,” he said.

Because of this, Senate President Vicente Sotto III demanded the DOH to explain such delays in the compensation of fallen and sickened healthcare workers.

“It is definitely unacceptable. The answer is acceptable. They have to do it and they have to do it today,” Sotto said.

The DOH, however, is yet to respond to the matter. —MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

DSWD launches ReliefAgad app for SAP distribution

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 20, 2020

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has launched ReliefAgad app to expedite the process for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Collecting data for the SAP beneficiaries as well as the distribution of the cash assistance will be made through the app. The app will be interfaced with any electronic payment system for the cash assistance distribution.

“Based on feedback gathered from the implementation of the SAP first tranche, we are streamlining our processes to allow local government units to gather beneficiary data and distribute assistance more efficiently,” according to DSWD Usec. Danilo Pamonag.

The ReliefAgad will have an initial pilot run in the National Capital Region (NCR) before it will be launched nationwide. AAC

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