Duterte to deliver 5th SONA at Batasang Pambansa — Sotto

Maris Federez   •   July 16, 2020   •   340

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to deliver his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

“I just received word today that the President has decided to deliver his SONA in the Batasang Pambansa, the House of Representatives, on July 27,” Sotto announced during an online conference with Senate reporters.

But due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), they will limit the number of people who will be allowed entry to the Congress plenary hall.

Sotto said only 50 people will be allowed to attend – 25 from the executive and 25 from the legislative departments, which include office staff and security personnel.

And unlike the previous SONA, there will be no invited audience.

Sotto added that only nine members of the House of Representatives (HOR) and eight senators are expected to attend physically.

Sotto said he will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Francis Tolentino, Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher “Bong” Go, Sherwin Gatchalian and Pia Cayetano.

The Senate President said he agrees with the decision of the Palace.

“I agree with that decision of the executive department. We must give the country and the public and the people the semblance that your government is up and about and ready to continue with its job,” he said.

Sotto said attendees in the SONA are all expected to undergo rapid testing and comply with the health protocols to be implemented during the event.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, on the other hand, said it is not yet confirmed whether the President will personally appear in Congress or will just do a video telecast emanating from Malacañang.

“The venue is confirmed, it is Batasan pero ang alam ko po, hindi pa po 100% sure kung physically maga-attend ang president or mag-broadcast po from Malago to Congress,” Roque said.

Under the Constitution, the President is mandated to deliver his SONA before a joint session of Congress every fourth Monday of July. — (with inputs from Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

OFW groups satisfied with President’s SONA

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have expressed their gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte on his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Around 300 Filipinos representing several groups of OFWs from different countries met online and simultaneously watched the President’s SONA.

They said the chief executive did not let them down as he urged Congress “to pass a law establishing the Department of Overseas Filipino solely on addressing the concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families.”

Last March, the lower House passed the creation of the Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Deployment. The Senate, on the other hand, is still hearing the bill.

In his SONA, the President reiterated his commitment of support to OFWs.

He called on the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other agencies to allocate trainings and programs for OFWs.

With this, the United Filipino Global International thanked the president for his concern over them.

“The SONA speech of the president, I think we are very happy kasi alam naman po namin ang kaniyang intention. Ang kaniyang speech ay para talaga tumulong nang totoo na walang halong pamumulitiko,” said Gemma Sotto, chairperson of United Filipino Global International. — (from the report of Asher Cadapan, Jr.) /mbmf

Modernization plan seen to boost performance of BFP

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) on Tuesday, July 28, said it is looking forward to the planned modernization of the agency as mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

In a phone interview, BFP Director Jose Embang, Jr admitted that the agency is now being left behind as compared with the other fire departments in other countries.

Embang said that what they need to be on par with other countries in meeting and maintaining international standards is additional personnel, as well as equipment, training, and salary increase.

He said what the President mentioned in his SONA will be a great help to the agency.

“Ngayon lang nagkaroon, nabanggit ng isang Pangulo na dalawang beses ang modernization ng Bureau of Fire since last year, nabanggit n’ya na ‘yan, tapos ngayong nabanggit na naman n’ya. Given by the fact siguro na s’ya ay naging mayor sa Davao ng ilang dekada at nakita n’ya ang importance ng isang fire department sa isang bayan,” Embang said.

He added that the agency has only around 29,000 personnel nationwide and what they need is double that number.

He said that to be able to recruit the additional 30,000 personnel, they have to offer a more competitive salary.

He explained that more than being firefighters, the BFP is also among the first to respond to rescue operations during disasters and emergencies.

“Ini-ensure n’ya na ang lahat ng tao na nakatira sa mga establishment ay safe from destructive fires, isa lang ‘yun, prevention,” he said.

The BFP is also a support group to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in national emergencies and in fighting terrorism.

“Sini-secure n’ya ‘yung mga taong affected ng isang emergency bago ‘yung investigation, bago dumating ‘yung iba-ibang mga unit,” Embang said.

To perform these things, Embang said, the BFP would need equipment such as additional fire trucks, ladders, platforms, ambulances, rescue trucks, and hazardous materials trucks.

“Importanteng-importante po ‘yang hazardous materials truck, kasi ‘yan po ‘yung nagre responde sa mga chemical spill, sa mga bio kagaya ng COVID, sa mga radiological incident, ‘yan po ‘yung hazardous materials na tinatawag,” the BFP official further explained.

The agency is also planning to procure choppers to be used in transporting victims from high-rise buildings or forest fires, as well as rescue boats, and drones. — (from the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

PISTON, muling umapela sa LTFRB na payagang pumasada ang traditional jeepneys

Robie de Guzman   •   July 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Nagsagawa ng kilos-protesta ngayong Lunes, Hulyo 27 ang ilang miyembro ng transport group na Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) upang muling manawagan sa pamahalaan na payagan nang magbalik-pasada ang mas marami pang jeepney units sa gitna ng community quarantine.

Sakay ng mga lumang jeep, maagang nag-piket ang grupo sa harap ng tanggapan ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Idinadaing nila ang ilang buwan nang pagkakatigil sa pamamasada na nagtulak na umano sa ilan nilang kasamahan na mamalimos sa lansangan upang matustusan ang pangangailangan ng kanilang pamilya.

Marami din umano sa kanilang mga tsuper ang hindi nakatanggap ng ayuda mula sa pamahalaan.

“Kasi ang hinaing po namin na pinabalik po yung maiksi na ruta yung 49 na ruta bakit kami hindi kasama na simula noong nag lockdown Marso a-15 hanggang ngayon wala po kaming hanapbuhay namamalimos po kami sa lansangan para mabuhay ko lang pamilya ko,” ang sabi ni Cerilo Latoreno, miyembro ng PISTON.

Naniniwala ang grupo na kung papayagan ang pagpasada ng traditional jeepneys ay maiibsan ang hirap ng mga pasahero sa gitna ng limitadong ruta at bilang ng mga sasakyang pinayagang bumiyahe sa Metro Manila at kalapit-lugar.

“Hindi lang para magkaroon ng kabuhayan ang ating mga kasamahan kundi para magkaroon din ng service o may masakyan ang ating mga kababayan na hirap na hirap na sa paglalakad kasi putol putol ang ruta may mga ruta na talagang mga jeepney lang ang nagsi-service,” ani R Steve Ranjo, ang secretary general ng PISTON.

Apela rin ng grupo,  sana ay huwag tuluyang i-phase out ang mga lumang modelo ng pampasaherong jeep kaugnay ng proyektong jeepney modernization ng Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Pakiusap nila, bigyan pa sila ng panahon upang makasunod sa programang modernisasyon sa sektor ng transportasyon.

Umaasa ang grupo na mabibigyang-katugunan ang kanilang mga hinaing at mababanggit ito ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang State of the Nation Address (SONA) ngayong araw.

Matapos ang programa ay umalis din naman ang PISTON sa harap ng LTFRB upang magtungo sa University of the Philippines Diliman Campus upang doon ituloy ang protesta.

Una nang sinabi ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Quezon City na bawal ang anumang uri ng mass gathering sa gitna ng pandemya batay sa panuntunan ng national task force kontra COVID-19. Gayunman, maaaring magdaos ng protesta sa UP Diliman campus ang mga nais maglabas ng hinaing kaugnay ng SONA.

Sinabi rin ng pambansang pulisya na “maximum tolerance” ang kanilang paiiralin ngunit hindi sila magdadalawang-isip na arestuhin at kasuhan ang sinumang hindi makikinig sa paalala at lalabag sa health protocols kontra coronavirus disease. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

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