MANILA, Philippines – After only three session days, the Lower House of Congress passed on 2nd reading the proposed charter change on Tuesday, (December 4).
Makabayan congressmen hit the House leadership for ‘railroading’ the measure as they were not given time to speak and debate on the provisions of the bill.
This edifies the thought, according to the ACT Teachers Party list Rep. Antonio Tinio, that the measure is for the good of no less than House Speaker Gloria Arroyo.
“Ang tunay na laman at layunin ito ay (unlimited) political dynasties, unli-term para sa mga politiko, unli-matrial law kasi binabaan na nila ang criteria para makapagdeklara ng martial law. At unli-foreign plunder dahil binubuksan ang ekonomiya at lupain at public utility sa 100% foreign ownership,” Tinio argued.
“Magdahan-dahan tayo. There’s absolutely no reason to rush this very important measure that will impact all of us,” said Senior Minority Leader and Buhay Party list Rep. Lito Atienza adding that the bill still needs a ‘very thorough’ study and that such a crucial measure is ‘impossible to discuss in just a few sessions.”
But Arroyo was quick to deny the allegations.
“You know that I did not participate in the debate because I have always said that my only contribution there is the mechanism for setting up the federal state. The others are all contribution of other congressmen. They should answer themselves,” she countered.
Among the controversial provisions of the bill include the removal of term limit among congressmen and anti-political dynasty. It also pushes for the adoption of the two-party system in the country.
Likewise, the bill will give the President the privilege to choose his own vice president. Both officials will be given a four-year term each and the opportunity for reelection. A college degree will also be required of all candidates prior to election.
House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairperson, Vicente Veloso said the Lower House is set to pass on third and final reading the charter change measure.
The Lower House version requires a separate voting for the amended constitution. To approve the measure, the Senate needs a total of 18 votes while the House of Representatives will require at least 219 votes to proceed with the plebiscite.
However, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said it is highly impossible for the senators to deliberate on charter change due to lack of time.
“Wala kaming time para itake-up. Sana inapura nila ang budget para pwede namin itake-up iyan,” Sotto said.
Even Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon agreed with Sotto and said the measure is already “dead on arrival” in Senate.
But Veloso is not buying their reasons for holding off deliberations.
“Kung ayaw ninyo, sabihin ninyo kung ano ang ayaw ninyo. Hindi iyong sasabihin ninyo agad ‘dead on arrival.’ Bakit sino ba kayo? You are only one half of Congress,” he said referring to the senators. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)
Malacañang-PSC frustrates PITC at UNTV Cup
Malacañang-PSC Kamao flexed muscle as they overcome the power of the uprising rookie team PITC Global Traders. (Daniel Iglesias / Photoville International)
The Malacañang-PSC Kamao team is tightly clinging onto the second spot after narrowly pounding the PITC Global Traders, 69-64 at Thursday’s match.
Michael Ignario and ‘Bigman’ Martin Lloyd Antonio shared the Best Player of the Game title after firing 15 and 16 points, respectively.
The Kamao team now holds six wins and one loss under its belt while the global traders fell to the sixth rank after absorbing defeat for the fourth time.
Meanwhile, the AFP Cavaliers are still the top team to beat as the end of the second round of eliminations of the UNTV Cup 7th edition draws closer.
The AFP maintained their lead after routing the DA Food Masters, 79-73, in a match held last Sunday.
Darwin Cordero was hailed as the Best Player of the Game after firing 24 points with three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
The Cavaliers now hold seven wins and one loss record while the Food Masters were pushed down to the bottom of the standings after absorbing six losses and winning only three of their games.
UNTV Cup Season 6 champion Senate Defenders, on the other hand, spoiled the hopes of the NHA Builders to take home the crown this season after their explosive match last Sunday.
The NHA lost to the Senate in overtime, 98-97, with Marlon Legaspi and Harly Ng scoring the game-winning shots after firing 22 and 24 points, respectively.
Legaspi and Ng were hailed as the Best Players of the Game. — Bernard Dadis | UNTV News & Rescue
Senate likely to consider second extension of Martial Law
PASAY CITY, Philippines – Security officials met with members of the Senate on Monday (December 10) to defend their recommendation of extending the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao for another year.
Present in the executive session were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he is likely to consider the recommendation due to threats of rebellion.
“In my opinion, there is a continuing rebellion. There is an actual rebellion on going,” said Sotto.
Meanwhile, Senator Ralph Rector is in favor of the extension, however, not for one year but for six months only.
“What is appealing is that they’re saying that they would be able to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf if we give them a year of extension and to reduce the capability of CPP-NPA. That’s an appealing proposition to extend martial law. But then, why not 6 months?” Recto said.
According to Sotto, the Congress is likely to convene in a joint session on Wednesday to discuss the proposed one year extension of Martial Law.
It was in May 23, 2017 when the entire Mindanao region was placed under Martial Law following attacks from Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.
It was extended to a year until December 31, 2017 and another extension until the last day of this year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
Gov’t grants farmers P10-B under the Rice Tarrification Bill
FILE PHOTO: Farmers
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday (November 28) ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee on the rice tariffication bill.
The bill aims to lift quantitative restrictions on rice imports.
Instead, importers will be required to pay 35% levy or tariff on rice imports.
“Talagang we have to liberalize because it’s the provision of our agreement with the WTO so we have to tariffy to protect our farmers. Kasi kapag walang tariff, mas mura talaga ang import and the tariff proceeds will go to them for programs that make them competitive,” explained Senator Cynthia Villar, the Senate chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
The measure aims to prevent another shortage of rice supply and to ensure that the low price of commercial rice is maintained in local markets.
Critics of the bill argue that with restrictions on rice importation being lifted under the bill, there will be an oversupply of imported rice in local markets and the ones to suffer the burden first would be the local farmers.
But Villar allayed the farmers’ fears on the matter, saying the government has allotted a P10 billion fund to help them.
“Magbibigay po ang gobyerno ng sampung bilyong piso every year sa susunod na anim na taon para kayo ay maging competitive against import,” Villar assured.
On November 22, the bicameral committee approved the allocation of P10 billion to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Rice Fund.
This will be utilized for the improvement of farm machinery and equipment, seed production, training for rice farming, and loan programs among other means to help the local farmers.
Several farmers expressed gratitude to the efforts of government to help them sustain their livelihood.
“Iyon po ang pinakagusto kong natalakay ni Ma’am Senator Cythia Villar na magkakaroon ng farm school dahil karamihan ng mga farmers ay wala pang sapat na edukasyon tungkol sa crop production, inter cropping, multicrop production,” said Association of San Felipe Farmers president Joely Reguidon.
“Malaking bagay, dahil nagbibigay sila ng mga traktora, hindi masyadong mahal ang upa, pero mas maganda kung gagabayan ng gobyerno yung upa ng traktora. Kasi sa amin wala na kaming kalabaw, hindi namin naaaffordan yung traktora,” added Rolan, also a member of the farmers’ group.
As of press time, the Rice Tariffication Bill is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte before it fully becomes a law. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Leslie Huidem)