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Disqualification threatens 3rd telco Mislatel Consortium

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2018


PASAY CITY, Philippines – Losing bidders PT&T and Sear Telecom have brought their complaints to the Senate against the country’s winning third telco Mislatel Consortium.

Sear Telecom’s chairman and president Chavit Singson argued that Mislatel still has an existing contract with them which bars Mislatel from entering into another deal.

Sear Telecom together with PT&T wants the government to disqualify Chinese-owned Mislatel from being awarded as the country’s third telco.

“From the beginning disqualified ang Mislatel dahil may kontrata sa amin ang Mislatel,” Sison said during Tuesday’s (November 27) inquiry on the matter.

On the other hand, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said the process of awarding the contract to the winning bidder will continue unless the court issues its decision on the complaints of the losing bidder.

However still, the agency admitted that the legal battle will surely affect or delay the entry of the third telco.

Nevertheless, DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio said they will still “abide by the decision of the court.”

On issues of security, Senator Grace Poe questioned National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon on the possible implication to national security of the reported “hijacking” incident of China Telcom on internet traffic that affects even powerful countries.

The incident is up for investigation by the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency (NICA).

“We have read about that report. It is subject to validation on our part. We have the 90 days period to do that. The winning provisional NMP will have to be undergo a background check by the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency,” said Esperon.

The DICT maintained that they see no threat to national security with the entry of the Chinese telecom firm in the country.

“So the threat of Chinese product, Chinese people, really operating our telecommunication are really here,” Rio said,

For its part, Mislatel assured that the rights of the Filipino people will be protected.

“We are a Filipino company. We will not allow national interest and national security to be undermined,” assured Atty. Adel Tamano, Mislatel’s spokesperson.

But Poe insisted that a thorough scrutiny on the background of the third telco should still be conducted.

“Pero iba pa rin siyempre yung mismong korporasyon ang pagmamayari ay taga ibang bansa,” said the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Senator Poe.

Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV requested the presence of Mislatel’s owner Dennis Uy in the next inquiry.

Uy was a no-show in today’s Senate inquiry. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Andaya tells Malacañang: Bare vetoed parts in 2019 budget

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday urged Malacañang to bare the details of the provisions in the 2019 national budget that were vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. made the call after Duterte signed the 2019 General Appropriations Act but vetoed more than P95 billion items of appropriations in the details of the projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

READ: Duterte signs P3.7-T national budget for 2019

Andaya said the Palace should reveal the details of the vetoed provisions “in the interest of transparency and for the guidance of the public.”

“I urge Malacañang to release the President’s veto message in full immediately so that we can base our reaction on the official document,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker also hinted that the Senate’s alleged pork barrel remains intact in the newly-signed 2019 budget, saying this could be the reason why Senators are in celebratory mood over the deletion of the House amendments amounting to P95.3 billion.

“My friends in the Senate are going to town claiming victory over the deletion of the House amendments. Does this mean that the Senate port remains intact? Could this be the reason for their celebratory mood?” Andaya said.

The solon also argued that the President’s veto on several items in the budget could be “conditional” in nature.

“I believe that the veto being speculated about is of the conditional kind.  As such, the appropriation remains but its release is subject to conditions,” he said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a text message on Monday that Duterte vetoed some parts in the budget that were not part of the administration’s “programmed priorities.”

Andaya has been insisting that the realignments they made were not post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report and did not exceed the expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.

He also said that Senate President Vicente Sotto’s signing of the budget bill with strong reservations was ill-advised and baseless.

READ: Andaya hits Sotto’s “strong reservations” in signing 2019 budget bill 

Meanwhile, Senators have expressed relief with the signing of the budget and commended Duterte for vetoing the questionable insertions in the 2019 spending program.   

“I am relieved that the 2019 budget has finally been signed, primarily because further delay would have caused adverse effects on our macroeconomy,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement.

“The veto is proof that the Senate was right all along in saying that the changes made were unconstitutional,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson also lauded Duterte’s move, calling the signing of the “pork-free” national budget a “victory for Filipino taxpayers.”

“If there is one act of PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) that is worthy of admiration, this veto message is on top of my list,” Lacson added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also believes that Duterte’s decision to reject the P95-billion items of appropriations is constitutional.

“The President’s line item veto is based on legal and constitutional grounds, and not because the President sided with the Senate,” Drilon said.

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, urged her colleagues and the public to be alert to ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be spent accordingly.

“Magbantay tayo para matiyak na ang huling piso ay sa kapakanan ng taumbayan mapupunta,” she said.

(We should be on guard to ensure that the last peso will be spent on the public’s welfare.) – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Senators express concern over Chinese vessels in PH waters, probe sought

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, April 5th, 2019

Senators expressed their concerns over the presence of Chinese vessels in Philippine waters.

Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution on Thursday (April 4) to investigate on the issue.

According to Hontiveros, the presence of these Chinese vessels are illegal and extremely bothering.

“Is the Duterte administration still in full control of our waters and territories, or have they surrendered them already to China? The illegal, unreported and unregulated presence of numerous Chinese vessels in our territories is extremely bothering,” she said in a statement.

The resolution also seeks to investigate the presence of a Chinese dredging vessel in Lobo, Batangas.

READ: Lobo, Batangas local gov’t ordered Chinese dredging ship to leave

Reports of the Armed Forces of the Philippines showed that hundreds of Chinese vessels were sighted circling around Pag-asa Island.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said the government should not allow these Chinese vessels to operate around Pag-asa island.

“We should not allow China to encircle, much less occupy the island of Pag-asa. Let’s be reminded of what we sing every Monday morning, during our flag-raising ceremony,” he said in a statement.

He will also volunteer to accompany President Rodrigo Duterte if he decides to visit Pag-asa Island.

The Pag-asa Island is the largest among the nine islands occupied by the Philippines in the Spratlys Islands. It is also a home to several Filipinos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island is illegal and is a violation of the Philippine sovereignty under 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

“The presence of Chinese vessels near and around Pag-asa and other maritime features in the KIG is illegal. Such actions are a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” the DFA said in a statement.

Senator Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said it is better to file a diplomatic protest against China.

“The protest signifies our country’s formal objection to the legality of the acts committed and will indicate that we have no intention of abandoning our claims,” he said.

For Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) should aid fishermen affected by the maritime dispute. Especially when there are reports that these Chinese vessels are harassing Filipino fishermen.

“Dapat ang BFAR kasama ang DFA, gumawa ng diplomatic approach dito, instead na huwag payagan dahil naghahanapbuhay sila. So I think pinakamaganda diyan, show of good faith na payagan ang ating mga mangingisda na mangisda, of course sa atin naman iyon, (BFAR and DFA should make a diplomatic approach on the matter instead of prohibiting them to fish. That is their livelihood. So I think there should be a show of good faith and allow the fishermen to fish),” he said.

Amid the tension in the West Philippine Sea, the DFA reminds concerned parties to avoid any actions that will violate the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Better benefits for brgy. health workers, nutrition scholars—Sen. Ejercito

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

Senator JV Ejercito

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Reelectionist Senator JV Ejercito vows to push for better compensation and benefits for Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS).

This is after the Universal Health Care was passed into law.

Look: Benefits under the Universal Health Care Act

According to Senator Ejercito, the BHW and BNS are on the front line of the government’s health service. However, they are overworked and under-compensated.

“Hindi ba kayo voluntary lamang, nabubuhay lamang sa allowance? Pero dahil sa inyong pagnanais na makapagsilbi sa bayan, ginagawa pa rin ang trabaho, (Are you not just volunteers who live only on allowance? But because of your willingness to serve the country, you continue to do your duties)” he said during a speech in Batangas on Monday.

Ejercito added that the said measure will improve the quality of life of BHWs and BNS.—Aileen Cerrudo

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