Congress eyes investigation on water crisis

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 15, 2019   •   3596

The Senate and House of Representatives called on the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad, Manila Water, and the National Water Regulatory Board to explain the water service interruptions experienced in Metro Manila.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has already filed a resolution to immediately resolve the issue. He said that thousands of families are already affected by the lack of water supply. This also includes schools, hospitals and business establishments.

Sotto, in a statement, warned that the country might face worse consequences if the problem is not resolved.

“If left unresolved, the water crisis may bring more serious problems to the people and businesses in the affected areas, and may impact the country as a whole,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Lower House also filed a separate resolution calling for an investigation on the water shortage.

1-Pacman partylist representative Mikee Romero calls on Malacañang to certify the Department of Disaster Resilience Bill as urgent to expedite the government’s response to different kinds of calamities and crises.

Under the said proposed law, the Department of Disaster Resilience Bill will focus on issues about disaster and climate change preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Romero said it can also cover the effects of El Niño in the country.

“I hope HB 8165 can be certified as urgent so the new Department of Disaster Resilience can take the lead on addressing the water crisis aggravated by the ongoing El Nino drought,” he said. —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Grace Casin)

Senate probe on PhilHealth issues to push through despite 2-week lockdown — Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said that the scheduled investigation into allegations of “widespread corruption” in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will still push through despite a possible lockdown of the Senate building.

The Senate is set to convene as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, August 4 to delve into reports of alleged corruption in PhilHealth.

“Hearings will not be covered by our ‘ECQ’. Tuloy [ang] PhilHealth [probe] tomorrow,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

Earlier, sources said that the Senate will be placed on a two-week lockdown in support of the medical workers’ plea for timeout.

The Senate leader said the hearing will be conducted in a “hybrid” setup, which means that senators’ physical and virtual attendance will be acknowledged.

Resource persons invited to the hearing, however, will be required to physically appear in the Senate.

Among those invited to face in the probe is PhilHealth president and CEO Ricardo Morales.

“We seek to get the answers to the questions of how and where these funds were spent. The important thing, the bottom line is we need to amend the law. Apparently, we need to amend the law creating PhilHealth to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Sotto said.

Also invited to the hearing are PhilHealth Board Member Alejandro Cabading, former Head Executive Assistant Estrobal Laborte, and resigned Atty. Thorsson Montes Kieth, who claimed there is widespread corruption in the agency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Senate opens 2nd regular session of 18th Congress

Robie de Guzman   •   July 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, July 27 opened its second regular session of the 18th Congress ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address set to be delivered later in the afternoon.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III opened the session around 10 a.m. with 17 senators physically present at the session hall while six others participated through video conference.

“I open the second regular session of the 18th Congress of the Senate with a sense of urgency and a purpose. As long as we share the burden of the COVID pandemic with other countries of the world, we must continue to work towards saving lives and easing our common anxiety. This truth is unavoidable,” Sotto said in his speech.

“The Senate has promptly responded to the needs of our nation. Still, the Senate is ready to do more,” he added.

He also vowed that the Senate will continue to work on several priority measures in response to the crisis brought about by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

These measures include the strengthening of the country’s public transport system, digital landscape as it transitions to new normal, distance learning for students amid the public health crisis and initiatives to help distressed enterprises to recover from the economic fallout brought about by the pandemic.

In a separate statement, Sotto said the Senate is also expected to pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which was passed on second reading before the sine die adjournment last month.

The measure seeks to extend the powers granted to President Rodrigo Duterte under Republic Act No. 11469 to carry out national policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate is also expected to pass the repackaged Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), formerly the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA), to help businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises badly hit by the pandemic, rebuild, recover and retain jobs for their employees.

Other priority measures the Senate President is pushing are the Medical Scholarship Act, Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority Act, Hybrid Election Act, Anti-False Content Act and the 14th Month Pay law. The Senate will also tackle the Expanded Solo Parents Act, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, amendments to Public Service Act and the Agrarian or Agriculture Credit Cooperative Condonation Act, among others.

In previous years, senators would open their session at the Senate Building in Pasay in the morning before travelling to the Batasang Pambansa, the headquarters of the House of Representatives in Quezon City in the afternoon to attend the president’s SONA.

But due to the pandemic, only eight of the 24 senators will be physically witnessing this year’s SONA. These are Sotto, Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Francis Tolentino, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Sherwin Gatchalian, Pia Cayetano, and Ramon Bong Revilla.

The Senate and House of Representatives will hold a joint session at 4 p.m. Monday at the Batasang Pambansa to hear the president’s address. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Alamin ang deadline sa pagbabayad ng ‘ECQ Bills’

Marje Pelayo   •   June 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Unti-unti nang bumabalik ang operasyon ng mga negosyo at balik trabaho na rin ang karamihang manggagawa matapos ang ilang buwang pagkatigil ng paggawa dahil sa pandemya ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Subalit ang kinakaharap naman ngayon ng publiko ay ang kabi-kabilang bayarin sa tubig, kuryente, lisensya at iba nang hindi maputulan o mapatawan ng penalty. 

Hindi kailangang mag-alala dahil nagbigay ng palugit ang mga utility company at ahensya ng gobyerno para sa pagbabayad ng tinatawag na ‘ECQ bills’ o ang mga bayarin sa panahon ng enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Sa mga lifeline customer o mga kumukonsumo ng 10 cubic pababa, nagabiso ang Maynilad at Manila Water na maaring mabayaran ang bills hanggang August 31. 

Ang non-lifeline customers naman o ang mga kmukonsumo ng mas mataas sa 10 cubic meters ay maari pang magbayad hanggang July 31.

Ang mga customer naman ng Meralco ay makatatanggap ng dalawang bill ngayong buwan: isang installment payment plan bill na naglalaman ng kunsumo sa panahon ng ECQ at ang regular na buwanang bill. 

Kung ang konsumo ay 200 kilowatt hour pababa, maaring bayaran o hulugan ng hanggang anim na buwan ang ECQ bill simula June 15. 

Kung ang konsumo naman ay 201 kilowatt hour pataas ay maaring mabayaran ang ECQ bill hanggang apat na buwan. 

Samantala, sa mga nag-file ng 2019 income tax return (ITR) ay maaring makapagbayad hanggang June 15 lamang. 

Paliwanag ng Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), kailangan ng pamahalaan ng pondo upang tustusan ang mga programa nito kontra COVID-19 kaya hindi na ito magbibigay ng palugit.

Ang mga naipong renta naman, maging commercial o residential, ay maaring hulugan sa loob ng anim na buwan base sa inilabas na guidelines ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Sa mga may lisensya at rehistro ng sasakyan na na-expire sa panahon ng ECQ, maaring mag-renew hanggang August 3 ng walang babayarang penalty, ayon sa paalala ng Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Image may contain: text that says 'ANNOUNCEMENT LTO has EXTENDED THE VALIDITY OF DRIVER'S LICENSES that expired during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to TWO MONTHS or 60 DAYS upon the lifting of the restrictions @DOTrPH @DOTrPH www.dotr.gov.ph'

Pinapayuhan lamang ang publiko na gawing online ang transaksyon nang hindi na magtungo pang personal sa mga opisina at makaiwas sa pagkahawa sa COVID-19. MNP (sa ulat ni Rey Pelayo)

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