Koko Pimentel says PDP-Laban to still support Velasco’s speakership bid

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2019   •   858

PDP-Laban President Senator Aquilino Pimentel III (Photo: Koko Pimentel Facebook)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III has called on members of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to support their party mates who are vying for the speakership post in the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress.

In a message to reporters on Tuesday, Pimentelsaid PDP-Laban members should back the bid of Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, who was picked by the party as its nominee for the speakership post.

Pimentel issued the statement after Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales, who serves as PDP-Laban Executive Vice President, said they are willing to shift their support should Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte pursue his possible bid for the top House post.

READ: Solons backing Velasco speakership bid to shift support to Paolo Duterte

On Tuesday, Duterte announced his possible bid for the speakership post amid talks of term-sharing being pushed by Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayateno.

“Moapil na ko pagka-speaker (I will join the speakership race). The House is divided, I might be able to help unite it. Pareho lang kaming binoto ng mga tao ah. Kung term sharing, term sharing na kaming lahat (We were all elected by the people. If the set-up is term-sharing then we should all share a term),” he said.

READ: Paolo Duterte says he might join House speakership race

The presidential son also proposed that the Speaker of the House post be shared by representatives from Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon, and the party-list groups.

But Pimentel said Duterte is not a member of the PDP-laban.

“For as long as there are PDP-Laban members aspiring to be House Speaker and they are qualified to be one, then PDP-Laban members should and must consider first supporting their party-mate,” he said.

Pimentel is the current president of the ruling party while President Duterte serves as its chairman.

Other party members who are gunning for the top House position are Gonzales and Davao del Norte Representative and former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Former Senator Nene Pimentel in ICU – PDP-Laban

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2019

Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital, an official from his political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) confirmed Monday.

In a message posted on Twitter, PDP-Laban spokesperson Ron Munsayac appealed for prayers for the ailing senator.

“We are humbly asking our friends and partymates in the @PDPLABAN to pray for the full & speedy recovery of our founder and Chairman Emeritus Tatay Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. who is currently in the ICU,” he said in his post.

His son, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, said in a message to reporters that his father is “very ill”and is “currently under treatment,” but did not provide further details.

“Doctors and hospital staff are doing their best to help him. We ardently ask that you join us in prayer for his full and complete recovery,” he said.

The 85-year old former lawmaker rose to national prominence in 1971 when he was elected as delegate to the Constitutional Convention representing Misamis Oriental.

In 1982, he founded the PDP-Laban to oppose the then-ruling Kilusang Bagong Lipunan of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

He was senator from 1987 to 1992 and again from 1998 to 2010. He served as Senate president from 2000 to 2001, and as Senate minority leader from 2001 to 2002, and 2004 to 2010.

During his time in the Senate, he authored and sponsored several key pieces of legislation including the Local Government Code of 1991, the Cooperative Code, the Philippine Sports Commission Act, among others.

Senator seeks to regulate operation, ownership of private drones

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019

An agricultural drone used for crop- spraying

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has filed a bill seeking to regulate the ownership and operation of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles by private individuals.

Under Senate Bill No. 1098, Pimentel wants to penalize private persons who are not authorized to own and operate drones either for recreational or commercial use.

Pimentel noted that over the last two decades, drones have been used for photography, to increase crop production, in commercial use and to conduct surveillance and law enforcement operations.

Just recently, United Parcel Service (UPS), an American multinational package delivery and supply chain management, was granted approval by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a “drone airline.”

“With this ubiquity, comes the need for regulation,” Pimentel said.

“The same drones that are used for recreational and commercial purposes might be exploited by terrorists, used to violate rights, or could pose a hazard to aircraft,” he added.

The lawmaker cited the drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies.

He said he first filed the measure during the previous Congress.

The bill seeks to regulate only drones purchased, owned and operated by private persons, whether used for hobby or commercial purposes, and does not cover use of drones by the government.

The proposal states that only a registered commercial drone owner may apply for a permit to operate.

The permit shall be issued periodically only upon proof that the owner qualifies for a radio operator’s certificate of proficiency; has been awarded a passing rating in an aviation license theory examination; has completed a training course in the operation of the type of drone that will be operated; has at least five hours of experience operating drones outside of controlled airspace; has valid insurance over the drone; and has not incurred any violations for drone ownership or use in the five years immediately preceding an application for permit.

The bill authorizes the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to regulate and classify drones into types.

CAAP will also be authorized to prohibit the use of drones, whether for hobbyist or commercial use or both, in any part of the Philippines, whether permanently or for a designated period of time, subject to notice that must be published in at least two newspapers of national circulation.

The bill states that the notice must clearly delineate the no-drone zone and must be published at least three weeks prior to the effectivity of the prohibition. Notice can only be foregone in emergency situations, as determined by the CAAP.

The bill also requires all drone owners, whether for hobby or commercial use, are required to periodically register themselves and their drones with the CAAP’s Public Safety and Security Command Center.

The measure also states that an unregistered drone may be confiscated by the CAAP. Operating a drone for commercial purposes without a permit shall result in the confiscation of the drone and a fine between P50,000 and P100,000.

Any violation of the general safety regulations and restrictions on drone usage stated in the proposal shall result in a fine between P100,000 and P500,000, without prejudice to any separate civil or criminal charges that may be brought against the drone owner and/or operator for any injury or damage resulting from the violation.

Senators hit Chinese envoy: Filipinos in China are not spies

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations organizational meeting and briefing by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday, August 19, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators on Monday slammed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua over his remark that Filipino workers in China might be suspected of being spies.

At a Committee on Foreign Relations Organizational meeting, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel assured the Chinese envoy that Filipinos in China are not spies but are there to earn a living.

“Let me assure China, there are no Filipino spies in China. Kaya wag silang mag-alala. Ang mga Pilipino po na nasa China ay para po sa pagta-trabaho,” he said when asked for his comment on the issue.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier expressed concern over the location of the Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGO) hubs near military camps, saying these Chinese-dominated casinos could be used for espionage purposes.

In response to Lorenzana’s remark, Zhao reportedly told Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that they may also be inclined to look at Filipino workers in China as spies.

For Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Chinese Ambassador’s statement could be considered a threat.

“Ito ay maituturing na banta sa buhay at kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayang OFW sa Tsina. It is a veiled threat in response to our simple and reasonable desire to strictly regulate Chinese POGO operations in the country and ensure the country’s national security,” Hontiveros said.

“Our OFWs are not spies. They have no history of espionage. Filipinos abroad are valued both for their skill and unique blend of hard work and care. They pose no threat. In fact, in China, our workers are employed in areas that are nowhere near military and security facilities. To insinuate that they could be committing espionage is not only insulting but plainly false,” she added.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier called Zhao’s remark as “absurd and beyond the realm of possibility.”

He added that Lorenzana is a competent official and his job is to advise authorities on a matter of security.

“He has nothing but good intentions. We should defer to him,” he said.

Drilon further stated the possibility that POGO workers could be used for information gathering is not a remote possibility.

“It’s convenient when there is a need for it. Why should we leave that chance unchecked?” he said, adding that he supports Lorenzana’s proposal to move POGO hubs farther away from military camps.

Hontiveros also said the Lorenzana did not accuse Chinese workers employed in POGO hubs as spies, but merely pointed out the proximity of the firms to military camps which can be exploited by unscrupulous people to undermine the country’s security.

The senator also recalled Lorenzana’s point that Chinese firms are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intelligence collection for their government.

“Foreign workers, including Chinese workers, who fully comply with our laws and respect the rights of Filipino workers are welcome in our country. We demand the same from our OFWs working in and hosted by foreign countries. However, our country also reserves the right to ensure the safety of its citizens and protection of its state secrets,” Hontiveros said.

To address this issue, Hontiveros said there should be a thorough review of all Chinese POGOs near military installations and camps, adding that the defense department “must make a comprehensive appraisal and provide necessary proposals.”

She also suggested for stricter regulation of the POGO industry to ensure that revenues are monitored, taxes are paid and domestic facilities are not used to commit crimes.

Hontiveros added that there should be pressure on the Chinese government to commit more to work closely with the Philippine authorities in regulating the entry of illegal and undocumented Chinese workers into the country.

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