Cayetano tells Velasco: Honor word on House leadership posts

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020   •   159

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano reminded Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to honor his word to retain leadership positions in the House of Representatives after the transition of powers.

In a Facebook live on Wednesday afternoon, Cayetano called on Velasco to fulfill his “word of honor” of not implementing any changes in committee chairmanships and leadership positions in the lower chamber.

“Sabi mo sa akin Palabra de Honor, de Palabra de Honor din sa side niyo dahil malinaw na malinaw na sinabi ng ating Pangulo that he doesn’t want disruptions so walang palitan ng kahit sinong chairmanship at leadership sa Kongreso,” he said.

Cayetano made the remark after Velasco replaced the chairpersons of two House committees, which he said should not be the case under their term-sharing deal.

Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon was elected as Senior Deputy Speaker, replacing Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte who was named chairman of the accounts committee.

The accounts committee was previously held by Cavite 8th District Representative Abraham Tolentino.

1-Pacman Party-list Representative Michael Romero was elected Deputy Speaker, replacing Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Raymund Villafuerte, who is a close ally of Cayetano.

Quezon Representative Angelina Tan was also named chairman of committee on health, replacing Guimaras Representative Lucille Nava.

Cayetano also claimed that some allies of Velasco are talking congressmen out of their positions, and are even taking their offices.

“There are now some of your people na gustong mang bengga talking to some of our people na magpalit na lang, umalis na lang. Pati Kwarto kinukuha,” he said.

“Let’s not do that, let’s all focus sa budget and as I promised you, kahit tingnan ninyo ‘yung text ko sa ating mga taga-suporta, ‘Please support the new leadership, please get the budget passed,’” he added.

Velasco has yet to comment on Cayetano’s statement.

The term-sharing deal between Cayetano and Velasco was brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself in 2019. The deal appeared to have been fulfilled when Velasco was elected as speaker in a remote session on Monday.

His election was ratified at the Batasang Pambansa Complex on Tuesday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

House approves bill protecting consumers from fraudulent Internet transactions

Marje Pelayo   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) on Monday (November 23) approved on third and final reading House Bill 7805 or the proposed ‘Internet Transactions Act’.

The bill seeks to regulate commercial transactions in the Internet and protect Filipino consumers from fraud and abuses especially with the increase in online transactions due to prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic.

The bill applies to the following activities: 

  • internet retail of consumer goods and services; 
  • online travel services; 
  • online media providers; 
  • ride hailing services; and 
  • digital financial services.

The bill also proposes the creation of an e-Commerce Code of conduct which guarantees equal application of rights of consumers and merchants with all “honesty, integrity and fairness at all times.”

Accurate information about the goods and services being offered should be assured and should conform to the Philippine regulatory standards.

The bill also proposes the creation of an electronic commerce (eCommerce) Bureau that will be tasked to implement the provisions of the proposed law and will operate under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Its tasks include  implementation, monitoring and ensuring compliance to the Internet Transactions Act, among other duties and responsibilities.

As for ride hailing partners, the bill mandates riders or delivery personnel to treat customers fairly and honestly the same way that consumers are warned not to “shame, demean, embarrass or humiliate” them.

House probe on Ulysses’ floods to focus on finding solutions – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday said he wants the panel investigation on the severe flooding that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela areas to focus more on coming up with long-term solutions to prevent deaths and economic costs in future disasters.

Velasco issued the statement as the House Committee on Agriculture and Food sets to conduct its probe on Tuesday.

Velasco said the purpose of the probe is to establish facts that could lead to corrective actions, and not to find fault on concerned individuals and agencies.

“We hope to hear everyone’s side and get a clearer picture of the events that transpired when Typhoon Ulysses struck and caused widespread flooding in Luzon,” Velasco said.

“The aim here is to come up with solutions and legislation, if needed, to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives and properties during typhoons,” he added.

Velasco said the congressional hearing will also focus on how to better address proper protocols and preparedness even before a natural disaster strikes.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent deaths and loss of properties from happening,” he said.

The panel has invited officials of the National Irrigation Administration and the local governments of Cagayan and Isabela for the hearing on Tuesday.

The inquiry was called by Velasco, together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, through House Resolution No. 1348 into the cause of massive flooding that submerged the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.

The country was hit by a series of typhoons – Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses – from late October to early November this year.

Ulysses caused heavy damages to infrastructure and agriculture and claimed 73 lives. The typhoon also affected thousands of families in parts of Luzon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

 The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity following the onslaught of recent typhoons.

House eyes P5-B increase in 2021 calamity fund

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is pushing to hike the calamity fund for 2021 by at least P5 billion to aid in the reconstruction of areas devastated by recent strong typhoons.

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the lower chamber will propose the increase during the bicameral conference on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for next year.

The two chambers of Congress will convene the conference after the Senate approves its own version of the budget, he said.

Velasco stressed that there is a need to increase the calamity fund since the House passed the 2021 spending bill before typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses wreaked havoc in many parts of the country.

“Given the tremendous damage caused by these successive strong typhoons, it is imperative that we augment the calamity fund in next year’s spending plan. We have to help our people rebuild their lives and their communities,” he said in a statement.

He said that based on the reports of concerned government agencies, the total damage caused by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses to infrastructure and agriculture is now at P35 billion.

Under the budget submitted by President Rodrigo Duterte to Congress in August, the calamity fund amounts to P20 billion, up by P4 billion from this year’s P16 billion.

But of the P20 billion, P5 billion will go to the funds for Marawi reconstruction, while P6.25 billion would be for the quick response funds of six agencies.

Of the P6.25 billion, P2 billion will go to the Department of Education, P1.25 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, P1 billion to the Department of Agriculture, P1 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways, P500 million to the Department of Health, and P500 million to the Department of National Defense-Office of Civil Defense.

“That’s a total of P11.25 billion that is specifically appropriated, leaving a balance of P8.75 billion President Duterte could use to help victims of calamities and other disasters. That balance is not even enough to rebuild Bicol, which was hard hit by Typhoon Rolly,” Velasco said.

“Alternatively, we can allocate the additional money in the budgets of the agencies involved in reconstruction and helping typhoon victims,” Velasco said.

He added that there are enough appropriations in the proposed budget from which the needed funds could be taken.

The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity due to the impact of the spate of typhoons that hit the country in the previous years.

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