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Extension of martial law in Mindanao, not necessary – CHR

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2018


(file photo)

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is not convinced that an extension of martial law in Mindanao is necessary at this point.

CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said they have been opposing the imposition of martial law in the region because they believe that the power of the President is enough to solve the problems of terrorism in the country.

“Kasi nakalagay sa Saligang Batas, only in cases of actual invasion or rebellion. Hindi po kasama dito ang tinatawag na lawless violence. At patuloy po kaming naninindigan na sa extensions nito ay hindi rin kailangan,” Gascon said.

CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline De Guia, meanwhile, believes the government troops are fully equipped for the job and extension of martial law is no longer necessary.

“It has been the position of the Commission on Human Rights that our security forces are fully capable of addressing lawless violence in the country without the need for martial law,” she said.

She added that: “As such, there has to be a strong reason should the government move for another extension—based on the sound recommendation of our Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on the real situation on the ground.”

Gascon, meanwhile, stressed that the situation at present is different compared with the martial law during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in terms of intention.

Nevertheless, the CHR vows to be vigilant in monitoring for possible violations of human rights along the way.

For his part, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay fear the extension of martial law may only be utilized by people with much interest for charter change.

“So exactly the same story that we have during Marcoses time na martial law can be used to expedite charter change,” he said.

But Malacañang clarified that the proposal to extend the implementation of martial law in Mindanao region remains under study by President Rodrigo Duterte. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Sen. Pimentel moves to scrap decades-old travel tax

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III seeks to abolish the 42-year-old presidential decree that imposes travel tax to Filipinos traveling abroad.

In his Senate Bill No. 1841, Pimentel cited that the provisions of the Marcos-era legislation no longer apply at present.

Pimentel argued that travel tax should have been scrapped way back in November 2002 when the Philippines, along with other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), signed the ASEAN Tourism Agreement.

The said agreement has already removed travel levies and taxes on nationals of member-states traveling within the region.

“It has been almost 14 years since the Philippines signed the ASEAN Tourism Agreement but as of date, travel taxes are still imposed upon individuals traveling to other ASEAN member-States,” he said.

Pimentel’s remedial legislation seeks to totally remove the imposition of travel tax on Filipinos who wish to travel to any other country around the globe.

Travel tax , which ranges from P300 to P2,700, was originally imposed to prevent unnecessary foreign travels and to conserve foreign exchange during the period of Martial law.

This provision no longer applies today, the Senator said.

Pimentel also cited that then President Ferdinand Marcos imposed travel tax in 1977 “in order to provide adequate funds for tourism-related programs and projects to enhance the country’s competitiveness as a major tourist destination.”

However, the Senator argued that Section 73 of RA 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009 already provides for alternative funding sources for tourism-related programs and projects funded by the travel tax in the event that the collection of such is halted.

Pimentel added that traveling Filipinos should not be made to carry additional burden in providing funds for projects supposedly shouldered by the government such as tourism facilities and infrastructure.

Likewise, he noted that agencies like the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) shouldn’t be getting a percentage from the travel tax collection as their functions are not related to travelling.

These agencies should be receiving funds directly from the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Pimentel said that if the bill is enacted into law, travel tax collected on or after its effectivity and those collected prior to the effectivity, shall be refunded. – Marje Pelayo

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Martial law victims might receive more from the Marcoses’ wealth in Hawaii

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019

Martial law victim applying for compensation claims at the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board. (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – Rights abuse victims during the Marcos regime were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief when President Rodrigo Duterte approved to extend the distribution of claims until the end of the year.

According to the group, Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensuon at Aresto (SELDA), around P234 million from the P10 billion total amount of reparation pay are yet to be claimed by around 170 recognized claimants.

“Ang mga grantee noon (ay) may mga kulang pa talagang mga documents daw so hinabol ng iba iyong mga kulang ng documents,” explained SELDA’s National Coordinator Danny dela Fuente.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is now planning the process and finalizing the timeline for the distribution of the remaining claims.

Apart from this, the rights group said the 7,500 Martial law victims who were among those who filed a class action lawsuit in Hawaii may still be able to receive an additional amount from so called ‘ill-gotten wealth’ of the Marcoses deposited in the island state.

SELDA noted that each recognized claimant might receive P75,000 each from the US$13.75 million dollar earned from the auctioned paintings of the Marcoses.

This would be possible if the court will rule in favor of their petition expected to be announced in March.

It can be noted that the complainants were given an initial amount when the Hawaii court ruled in their favor against the Marcoses in the Hawaii case.

“Ang tawag ngayon doon (ay) Marcos estate, iyong inihabla namin sa Hawaii. Nagkaroon nga ng favorable decision ang court of US federal district of Hawaii na kami ay ma-award ng $1.9B. Walang panggagalingan iyon kundi ang kanilang ill-gotten wealth,” dela Fuente concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Duterte OKs extension of claims distribution for rights abuse victims

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Source: PCOO | Simeon Celi

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Thursday (February 28) the extension of claims distribution for human rights victims under Marcos regime until the end of the year.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday confirmed that the President has approved Congress’ joint resolution extending the maintenance, availability and release of funds to all legitimate claimants of monetary reparations under R.A. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

In May 2018, the now defunct Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) approved and recognized only about 11,000 of all 75,000 applicants. However, six days before the expiration of the Board’s existence, it was only able to resolve 6,737 appeals.

In June 2018, the Land Bank of the Philippines reported that the Board’s account still has a balance of P792.629 million.

By June 28, 2018, the HRVCB account with the Lank Bank of the Philippines (LBP) reported a balance of P792.629 million.

But several approved claimants have reported that they have yet to encash their money and so measures to extend distribution of claims had been filed. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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