Congress to probe poll glitches on June 4

Robie de Guzman   •   May 16, 2019   •   1072

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives are planning to hold an inquiry on the technical glitches and other issues that marred the 2019 midterm elections.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, said on Wednesday that the joint congressional committee on the automated election system agreed to conduct the hearing on June 4.

Several officials from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be summoned to explain the problems encountered on election day.

He said Comelec should reexamine the diagnostic tests they used to clear vote-counting machines (VCM) after some of the units encountered glitches during the May 13 polls.

The Comelec earlier said that more than 900 of the 85,000 VCMs were pulled out from several voting precincts nationwide after encountering hiccups on election day.

The poll body blamed this on faulty secure digital (SD) cards provided by their supplier. Around 1,665 of the 85,769 SD cards used in the midterm polls were defective.

The said figures are higher than the 120 SD cards and 801 VCMs replaced in 2016 polls.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier said that she will propose to the Comelec en banc to withhold the payment for the SD card supplier.

READ: Comelec Exec says supplier of ‘faulty’ SD cards shouldn’t be paid in full

Senator Panfilo Lacson supported the planned hearing to clear the technical issues, which could cast doubt on the results of the elections.

Lacson added that aside from the procurement of low-quality memory cards, he also wants to Comelec to explain about the delays in transmission related to their transparency server.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also echoed his colleagues’ sentiments.

He said there is a need to look into the issues that marred the 2019 polls to preserve the integrity and credibility of the automated elections, and avoid repeating them in the succeeding elections.

CIBAC solons seek swift passage of 4-day work week proposal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019

CIBAC Party-list Representatives have urged Congress to swiftly pass the Alternative Work Arrangement Bill for the sake of the Filipino workforce.

CIBAC Party-list Representative Bro. Eddie Villanueva said the passage of the bill can promote work-life balance and reduce operating costs.

“The bill can promote work-life balance, improve worker’s productivity and reduce transportation costs for employees. On the other hand, the operation costs of employers will be reduced because of less expense on recruitment and huge savings resulting from the reduction of traffic congestion,” he said.

The CIBAC solons filed House Bill 5471 which seeks to amend Article 83 of the Labor Code of the Philippines where employers can voluntarily adjust their working hours per week requirement, but not beyond 48 hours per week, without affecting the salary and benefits.—AAC

Congress on one-month break but Senate budget hearings, inquiry to continue

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Congress has adjourned its session for a month-long break but Senate said it is still business as usual in the upper chamber.

Prior to its session adjournment Wednesday, Senate adopted Resolution No. 154 filed by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, which authorized the committees to conduct investigations “on issues of national interests to aid in crafting relevant legislation.”

This means that all regular standing, oversight, and special committees at the Senate can still conduct hearings and inquiry while Congress is on break.

It also authorized committees “to conduct hearings, meetings and consultations during every recess of the Senate to have a continuity in the process of passing pending proposed legislations.”

The resolution also stated that the committees are authorized to issue subpoena or subpoena duces tecum “to any person, corporation entity or its officers to testify and/or produce such documents which maybe needed in the meetings, hearings or consultations of the committees.”

“Resolved, furthermore, to encourage committees to immediately file committee reports based on the outcome of its studies, hearings or investigations to the Senate in its regular and special sessions, and to regard all pending measures with utmost urgency for the consideration of its immediate passage by the Senate,” the resolution stated.

But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon clarified that standing committees, except for the Blue Ribbon Committee, could not conduct hearings on a resolution which is not read in the plenary and referred to a committee.

The Blue Ribbon Committee could hold hearings motu propio even if a resolution is not yet filed.

Next week, Senate Finance Committee will tackle the proposed P4.1 trillion National Expenditure Program for 2020.

Several committees have also scheduled technical working group meetings, according to the committee secretariat.

The 18th Congress will start its break on October 4 and its session will resume on November 4.

De Lima appeals to Congress not to repeal GCTA law

Robie de Guzman   •   September 4, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima (File: Senate of the Philippines)

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday appealed to her colleagues in Congress not to repeal the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law which recently came under heavy scrutiny due to the questionable release of some convicts.

In a statement, De Lima urged her fellow lawmakers to “dredge, foremost, into our collective consciousness, the merits of the GCTA law (both the original and amendatory provisions) as rooted in the restorative philosophy or principles that underlie our modern criminal justice and correctional systems.”

“Let not the legitimacy and the well-settled wisdom of the law be clouded or demolished by its misapplication, abuses in enforcement or wrongdoings on the part of the designated implementors of the law,” De Lima said.

She called on legislators to instead improve the law or its implementing rules and regulations, if necessary.

“But, please, let’s not abrogate it. To junk this law is to retrogress from hard-won triumphs in the legal universe. To paraphrase a line from a movie which tackles, in part, the fluid majesty of Law, ‘We ought not to be affected by the weather of the day, but should be by the climate of the era,'” she said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon earlier filed a bill seeking to repeal the GCTA law, particularly the amendments in Articles 29, 94, 97, 98 and 99 of the Revised Penal Code as contained under RA 10592.

The bill was filed after a public uproar into the questionable application of the law following the aborted release of convicted murderer-rapist, former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez.

READ: 3 Senators want GCTA law repealed

The senators said the purpose of the measure is laudable in decongesting the overpopulated prison cells in the country.

“However, when it was enacted into law, it caused an absurd interpretation and its very provisions needed harmonization,” they said in a statement, adding that it has been subject to abuse by the persons allowed by law to grant time allowances.

Amid the Senate inquiry into the application of the GCTA law, some senators have moved to amend the law and called for the revision of its implementing rules by the Department of Justice and other concerned government agencies to avoid abuse and misinterpretation.

The law was passed and signed during the time of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino in 2013. Last June 2019, the SC ruled that the law could be applied retroactively.

De Lima was the Justice Secretary when the IRR of the law was crafted.


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