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House okays bill requiring students to plant 10 trees before graduation

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading a measure that requires all graduating students to plant 10 trees each as a prerequisite for graduation.

House Bill 8728 or the “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act” aims to move the youth into action to “promote environmental protection, biodiversity, climate change mitigation, poverty reduction, and food security,” according to the bill’s authors Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Bacoor, Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla.

The bill enumerates areas where the tree planting would be executed.

These include forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, inactive and abandoned mine sites, among other suitable areas.

Concerned agencies shall be the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in cooperation with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), among others.

The agencies shall be responsible in seedling production, site preparation, nursery establishment, monitoring and evaluation, as well as technical support and extension services.

They should also provide for the students’ transportation, security and medical needs on the course of the tree planting activity.

The bill is now for transmission to the Senate for action. – Marje Pelayo

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LOOK: House of Representatives ready for Duterte’s 4th SONA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 22nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is all set for the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte slated to be held on Monday (July 22) afternoon.

The red carpet has been set at the North Wing Lobby for congressmen, senators and other guests to walk on as they enter the plenary hall for the gathering.

Tight security is being implemented at the Batasang Pambansa complex ahead of the SONA. Security personnel and K9 units have been deployed at the exit and entry points, including the area where legislators and guests would enter for the opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress this morning.

The House is expected to convene at 10 a.m. for the opening of its session, when members would elect the next Speaker.

An additional X-ray scanner has also been placed at the entrance of the North Wing Lobby to ensure that no prohibited items will make it inside the complex.

House Acting Secretary-General Dante Roberto Maling, who serves as chairperson of the Steering Committee of Task Force SONA 2019, said they spent months preparing and implementing all the necessary details to ensure a safe, orderly and peaceful SONA this year.

“The House is fully ready for SONA 2019. We have ensured that all details for the Opening of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress in the morning and the President’s SONA in the afternoon have been considered and well taken care of for the safe, peaceful and orderly holding of these big events,” he said in a statement.

“These include the necessary internal and external security measures and requirements, protocol arrangements, parking restrictions, media coverage, other physical arrangements, prescribed and required attire, and final reminders to guests particularly with regard to their invitations, seat cards and car passes, among others,” he added.

Starting 4 a.m. (Monday), the House implemented the “No Car Pass, No Entry” policy for the entry and exit points. The Main and South Gate will be used for the exclusive entrance of vehicles of House Members, Senators, Congressional Spouses and their back-up, VIP guests, and House and Senate Secretariat officials.

The North Gate will serve as the entrance gate of vehicles of invited guests, OB vans and generator sets, emergency vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances and military vehicles, House shuttle buses and vehicles with “Drop-Off” passes.

Only those with SONA 2019 ID will be allowed entry to the building.

For the Joint Session of Congress in the afternoon, the House advisory highlights that there will be a one-kilometer “No Fly Zone” over the area of the House Complex from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The South Wing Lobby will be closed at 1 p.m. to visitors and Congressional staff. By 3 p.m., lawmakers and guests will proceed to the Plenary Hall in preparation for Duterte’s SONA which is expected to take place around 4 p.m.

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House closely working with intel units for Duterte’s 4th SONA security

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Joint Session of the 17th Congress at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives Complex in Constitution Hills, Quezon City on July 23, 2018.
(Image courtesy of PCOO/KARL NORMAN ALONZO)

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday said it is closely working with government intelligence agencies for the security of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Retired Major General Romeo Prestoza said they are directly coordinating with relevant intelligence units to evaluate any risks to the House or President Duterte during the SONA.

He said the increased security follows the recent bombings that rocked Sulu in Mindanao.

“Well part of it kasi, sa experience ko kasi I’ve been an intelligence officer for 27 years, those things talagang kinoconsider namin. Hindi namin pinapabayaan, tinitingnan namin,” Prestoza said in a press briefing about the SONA 2019 preparations.

“That’s why we initiate ‘yung direct na contact with the NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency), ISAFP (Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines) and other intelligence units to see kung meron talagang connection or possibility na umabot dito,” he added.

However, Prestoza assured they have yet to see substantial security threats to the upcoming SONA, which Duterte will deliver at the Batasang Pambansa.

“When it comes to security threats, wala pa namang substantial, meaning talagang wala pang nakarating na actual na threat,” he said.

He also emphasized that the House security is prepared and well-equipped to handle security issues.

“We have extensive training and seminars to include simulation exercises and tabletop exercises para in case na meron nga, we would be prepared. Even ‘yung protocols, when it comes to emergencies ginagawa din namin,” Prestoza said.

When it comes to directing signal jammers on SONA day, Prestoza said the Presidential Security Group (PSG) shall be responsible for it based on their assessment of the proceedings.

“Kung kailangan nila or they feel they need to initiate na the jamming procedure, sila makakapag-dictate noon. I cannot dictate it,” he said.

In the same press briefing, House Acting Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling said that preparation activities for SONA remain on track and are the same as in previous years.

“Basically, the preparation has been the same through the years except siguro for very minor details, mga maliliit na arrangements lang. It doesn’t really deviate from what has been happening from the past years,” Maling said.

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Duterte: I don’t want to interfere in House affairs

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that he does not want to interfere with the affairs of the legislative branch but had to step in to end the impasse on the House Speakership.

“Nobody was sure to vote for whom, and they kept on asking who is the president’s candidate. So I shied away and said, no, if you can resolve the matter comfortably between you, do it,” he said. “I hate to intrude. But apparently, considering what happened in the last few days, and malapit na ang session (the opening of session is already near), I said… it’s time for me to talk.”

Duterte announced term-sharing between Taguig City representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque representative Lord Allan Velasco as House speakers.

The chief executive made the announcement on Monday (July 9) during the oath-taking of new presidential appointees.

“Your Speaker will be Alan Peter Cayetano. He shares the term with Lord Velasco,” he said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, Cayetano will lead the House for the first 15 months, while Velasco will take over in the next 21 months.

“[In] the next 21 months, the Speaker will be Lord Allan Velasco, with Martin Romualdez as the majority leader,” he said.—AAC

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