Five winners of Senate race file SOCE at Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   June 13, 2019   •   1572

MANILA, Philippines – At least five of the 12 winners in the 2019 Senatorial race have filed their Statement of Campaign Expenditures (SOCE) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, June 13.

Senators Cynthia Villar and Nancy Binay led the filing of the SOCE based on Comelec records.

Villar, who clinched the number one spot with more than 25 million votes, filed her campaign expense report on June 11 or two days before the deadline set by Comelec.

Binay, who finished 12th in the race also filed her SOCE last June 11.

Poe, who nestled at the second spot, submitted her report in the afternoon of June 13, as well as Senators-elect Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, who finished third and fourth in the Senate race, respectively.

Comelec said that most of the winning and losing candidates in the May midterm polls were able to beat the SOCE filing deadline.

Section 14 of Republic Act 1766 requires every candidate and political party to file with the Commission the full, true and itemized Soce within 30 days after the election day.

Also required to file such document are those whose campaigns were self-funded, those who did not incur any expenditure, and those who did not pursue their campaign activities even after filing their candidacies or those who withdrew their candidacies.

The poll body said that based on Comelec resolution 10505, the office of an elected candidate who failed to submit the required documents shall be considered vacant pursuant to Section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until he/she has complied within six months from the proclamation.

“They cannot assume office until they submitted their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures,” said Atty. Efraim Bag-id, acting director of Comelec campaign finance office.

The poll body emphasized the importance of the filing of SOCE as this will help them determine whether candidates and political parties followed the set campaign spending limits.

The Comelec resolution also states that winning candidates and party-lists with late SOCE filing but still within the period of six months shall be charged with lower administrative fines, depending on the position sought by the candidate.

Losing candidates, meanwhile, who failed to submit their SOCE will be meted out an administrative fine of P10,000.

“Iyong mga kandidato na natalo at hindi nakapagsumite ng kanilang Soce, depende po ito kung first timer po sila o second timer. Kapag first timer, administrative po iyan. Kapag 2 or more na beses na hindi sila nakapag- file ng kanilang SOCE e maliban sa administrative fine, they are perpetually disqualified to hold public office whether elective or appointed position,” Bag-id said.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, 20 candidates for the Senate., 50 party-list groups and three political parties have already filed their Soce.

Comelec said other candidates and political parties may submit their Soce before the campaign finance office until 8 p.m. of June 13. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Poe family commemorates FPJ’s 80th birthday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

Fernando Poe Jr.

The Poe family commemorated the 80th birthday of Fernando Poe Jr. on Tuesday (Aug 20) at the Manila North Cemetery.

They also distributed grocery packs and toys to some 200 indigent families.

Senator Grace Poe is still overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for their family.

“Kakaiba talaga ito kasi 15 taon na. Umulan o umaraw, halos hindi pa rin natitinag iyong mga nagmamahal kay FPJ (It is still overwhelming because it has been 15 years. Rain or shine, their love for FPJ is still there),” she said.

Lovi Poe, meanwhile, posted old photos of her father on her insta-story.

Senators mourn the passing of ex-DENR Sec. Gina Lopez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday mourned the passing of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

In a statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he is deeply saddened by the passing of Lopez, whom he called a “fearless advocate and a tireless philanthropist,” who dedicated “most her life for the betterment of her fellow Filipinos.”

Go added that Lopez’s “exceptional” dedication to protecting the environment has “no equal today.”

“I had the honor of working with her when she was the environment secretary of the Duterte Administration. As a former colleague in the government, I know how passionate, dedicated and humble she was as a public servant and as an Earth warrior,” he said in a statement.

“Ma’am Gina, taos-pusong pasasalamat po sa inyong hindi napapantayang serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino. Isa kang katangi-tanging modelo ng tunay na pagmamalasakit sa kapwa tao. May your legacy continue for generations to come,” he added.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel also expressed condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of the late DENR chief. He described Lopez as “a famous philanthropist and staunch children’s rights advocate.”

“I am saddened by the demise of such a great public servant and environmentalist as Gina Lopez. She will truly be remembered for her advocacies and contributions in the service of Filipinos,” Pimentel said.

“As the Filipinos mourn the untimely death of former Secretary Lopez, we also pray that her legacy lives on in every person and community her good heart has touched,” Pimentel added.

READ: Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez dies at 65

Lopez passed away on Monday. She succumbed to multiple organ failure after battling brain cancer.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri recalled Lopez’s many efforts to preserve the environment and helping the aggrieved sectors of society especially poor children.

“Being the chief of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is just one of the many tasks she carried out well as part of our government. She brought her environmental activism into every Filipino home in her travels around our beautiful archipelago,” he said in a statement.

Zubiri also expressed admiration for Lopez’s causes and for her grace and sublime courage with which she faced the pains of her sickness.

“She walked her talk, be it in defense of helpless children or displaced communities, or in nursing back to life polluted waters or ravaged forests,” he said.

“While in government, her habit of speaking the inconvenient truth to power was actually a strength, and not a character flaw in a bureaucracy straitjacketed by niceties. Though her stint was cut short, Gina was a great ‘secretary of defense of our natural resources’,” he added.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also said many will remember the late environmentalist as “a woman of courage” and a “firebrand,” who pushed for her environmental and child protection advocacies without fear and hesitation.

“She was all that. In or out of government, her life was about tireless creativity for all our collective future, through our children and our environment,” he added.

Senator Sonny Angara likewise paid tribute to Lopez, describing her as a “one-person green warrior” who took her “selfless” fight for environment protection to “where it matters.”

“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the margins of society. She fought for children who were incapable of seeking justice and care for themselves and eloquently spoke for the people in the communities whose voices have been crushed by exploitation,” Angara said.

“She was a one-person green warrior who took the fight to where it matters – in boardrooms, chatrooms, government offices, and in her favorite office – out in the open, under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on,” he added.

Angara also stated that Lopez’s passing has “left us a bucket list to comply with and follow.”

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, thanked Lopez for her efforts to protect the environment.

“Sec. Gina Lopez came in our midst and taught us love for mankind and the environment, our common home. Thank you for touching our lives in your impassioned way,” Poe said in a statement.

Poe eyes probe on plan to hike ATM fees

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

Senator Grace Poe

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe is eyeing to investigate the reported plan to increase the fees for automated teller machine (ATM) transactions.

Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, said the resolution she filed is seeking to probe proposals to raise ATM charges that would further burden Filipino workers.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the senator said hiking ATM fees is “disadvantageous to an estimated 4.1 million minimum-wage earners who would need to carry the burden of these fees as many of them receive their salaries through ATM cards and withdraw from these machines at least twice a month.”

“The practice of imposing hefty bank fees, including ATM charges is financially disadvantageous to our country’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders,” she added.

Reports said several banks have applied for higher ATM fees, between 36% to 50%, after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) lifted the moratorium on ATM fee increases.

Currently, bank charges range from P10 to P15 for interbank withdrawals and P2 for interbank balance inquiry.

Poe said she wants to know how much banks collect from these charges and why the customers are being made to shoulder the cost of what should be part of the banks’ services.

The senator would also ask the BSP about its next course of action after the moratorium on ATM fees lapsed.

READ: BSP says banks can’t hike ATM fees without approval

The BSP earlier assured that banks’ charges on ATM transactions won’t be increased without its approval, adding that each request for adjustment will be thoroughly examined.

Should the request for fee hike is found reasonable, clear and properly supported, the BSP said fees should be lower than the charges collected from transactions made over-the-counter (OTC), and comply with transparency in pricing.

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