Congress eyes investigation on water crisis

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 15, 2019   •   3155

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)

House panel asks NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has formally asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority to allow broadcast network ABS-CBN to continue operating even after the expiration of its franchise in May.

In a letter signed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Committee on Legislative Franchises chairman Franz Alvarez, the House panel enjoined the NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional permit to operate effective from May 4, 2020 until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.

The House leaders informed the agency that the panel has started deliberating on the network’s application for franchise renewal, noting instruction to all interested parties to submit their position papers for or against the application within 60 days from February 24.

They stressed that the House of Representatives has the exclusive original jurisdiction and authority to act on franchise applications.

“As we have been saying from the start, since ABS-CBN will be allowed to continue its broadcast while we are hearing their renewal, there is no urgency that would justify a hasty proceeding. We want to be sure that this matter is given the importance it deserves,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano also reiterated his earlier stand that Congress will prioritize more urgent measures, including the rehabilitation of Batangas following Taal Volcano eruption, the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the creation of the Departments of Overseas Filipino Workers and Disaster Resilience, as well as several revenue measures being pushed by the Duterte administration that will help bring in millions of new jobs.

There are 12 bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise that remain pending before the Committee on Legislative Franchises. A proposal for a concurrent resolution has also been filed in the Senate seeking the issuance of a provisional permit for ABS-CBN.

In the same letter, the House also asked the NTC to grant ABS-CBN Corporation’s subsidiaries and affiliates, whose franchise applications are pending deliberation with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, the same provisional authority.

The said subsidiaries and affiliates are ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., Sky Cable Corporation, and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc.

They likewise urged the NTC to include in the respective provisional authorities “terms and conditions that the agency deems appropriate to protect public interest consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.”

The House panel also confirmed that the ABS-CBN franchise will expire on May 4, and not on March 30 as widely reported earlier “because RA (Republic Act) 7966 stipulates that the franchise has become effective 15 days from the date of its publication, which was April 19,1995.”

The letter, dated February 26, was addressed to NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

Senate approves bill creating Philippine High School for Sports

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to create a national high school dedicated for the training and development of future generations of Filipino world champions has been approved on third and final reading, the Senate said Wednesday.

Senate Bill No. 1086 aims to establish the Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) which will offer a secondary course with special emphasis on developing the athletic skills of the students through subjects pertaining to physical education and sports development.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the PHSS would be a world-class educational and athletics facility which is at par with international standards.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, noted that despite the fact that Filipinos love sports, the Philippines has been lagging behind other countries in sporting competitions and events.

He said the Philippines has been joining the Summer Olympic Games since 1924, but Filipino athletes only garnered 10 medals, and not a single gold medal.

Of the 13 Philippine athletes to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he also noted that the silver-medal garnered by Hidilyn Diaz in the women’s weightlifting was the country’s only sport in the podium in any event.

Gatchalian added that Filipino athletes lack the support due them that other countries give to their athletes.

“The end view of this legislation is to unleash the potential of young Filipinos who have shown early potential of excelling in sports for a sports-related career,” he said.

Under the measure, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) will provide the land for the PHSS at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, and will be in charge of the construction of classrooms, dormitories, other sports facilities and related amenities.

The PHSS shall offer full or partial scholarship programs to students who have demonstrated the potential of excelling in sports.

Its students will also be provided with quality secondary education in their chosen tract which shall not be limited to the sports track under the supervision of the Department of Education.

Senate approves bill creating gov’t energy think tank body

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday, February 26 approved on third and final reading a bill creating a government think tank body for the energy sector.

The Senate Bill No. 1296 proposes the creation of the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI) which will perform critical research and policy development for necessary reforms in the energy sector.

The measure states that the PERPI will be established in the University of the Philippines (UP) and will operate under the Office of the UP President.

The body shall be managed by an executive board, the members of which should be seasoned academicians and professionals from the fields of engineering, law, science, statistics, economics, public health.

Its executive director, a recognized expert in energy research and policy development, shall be appointed by the UP President.

“We envision PERPI to stand at the forefront of Philippine energy research and policy development, as an institution solely devoted to these pursuits,” Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian said in sponsoring the measure.

Under the bill, the PERPI will formulate and conduct research development on energy technology, public policy issues in energy markets and other pressing issues backed by rigorous empirical evidence.

It will also establish connections with government and private institutions on existing energy research and policy studies, and shall likewise link with foreign entities for energy research and development and serve as the repository of all energy-related researches and studies.

The measure also states that the PERPI, as an independent institution, will ensure that its research endeavors will not be influenced or constrained by political affiliations, technological bias or other presuppositions.

To fund PERPI, the bill proposes the establishment of a special account for energy research.

This will be managed by the Bureau of Treasury which will recognize and accept grants, contributions and donations.

The bill proposes the institute’s operations to be initially funded P200 million appropriated out of the General Appropriations Act.

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