Lacson, Angara: SEAG hosting issues should be discussed after the event

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   249

MANILA, Philippines – Two senators on Friday called for a break on discussions of issues surrounding the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Senator Sonny Angara said questions on funding being raised as well as other negative news on the hosting of the games might distract the athletes from focusing on their competitions.

“Hosting ng Games ‘yan. Dapat naka-concentrate tayo dito. Kasi ‘yung mga atleta natin, kapag maraming issue, baka ma-distract eh. Dapat naka-focus lang sa mga competition nila,” Angara said in a statement.

The lawmaker made the call amid questions on the funds spent for the Games, including the construction of the P50-million worth stadium cauldron.

Senate Minority Franklin Drilon earlier criticized the alleged excessive amount of the cauldron to be used for the opening of the games on Nov. 30, as well as the alleged lack of concrete plan to maintain the facilities built for the event.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) has defended its cost, saying the cauldron was designed by a national artist and was even cheaper than the one built by Singapore.

Angara assured that any money spent on the Games will eventually be audited as part of the regular processes of the government.

“Dadaan naman talaga sa auditing ang lahat ng ‘yan. Lahat ng gastusin ng gobyerno ay dadaan talaga sa cost audit. Titingnan ito ng Commission on Audit. ‘Yun talaga ang trabaho ng ahensya – kung nagastos ba ng tama ng ahensya ‘yung pera dyan,” he said.

Angara also said that as the host country for the 30th SEA Games, the entire country must be united and show its ASEAN neighbors what the world-renowned Filipino hospitality is all about.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said that he also wanted the discussion on the hosting of the SEA Games be conducted after the event.

“Baka sa halip na ma-focus tayo sa international event na iho-host natin, baka ang focus mapunta sa sinasabing excessive, questionable or masyadong extravagant na paggastos. There’s a time for that,” he said in a media interview.

“I’d rather that we discuss that or even investigate after the games. Kasi baka pati ang mga athletes natin, di maka-focus, kasi baka magkaroon ng perception mali o tama pero nasa isip nila hindi sila maka-focus sa games. Pati organizers baka madiskaril ang focus nila para maging maayos ang pagdadaos ng games sa atin,” he added.

The country will host the 30th SEA Games from November 30 to December 11 and will be held in several venues including the newly built New Clark City in Pampanga, Subic Bay Freeport and Metro Manila.

The SEA Games will be held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in various areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila, Pampanga, Zambales and the New Clark City in Tarlac.

Lacson says proposed 2020 budget still tainted with pork barrel

Robie de Guzman   •   December 11, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said the proposed 2020 national budget signed by the congressional bicameral conference committee is still tainted with pork barrel.

In a statement, Lacson noted that “bad habits are indeed hard to break,” as he revealed some of the budget insertions allegedly made by the House of Representatives before the bicameral conference committee approved the report on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.

“It is revolting to note that legislators keep on dipping their dirty fingers on our national budget in spite of pending cases involving the same issue,” he said.

The senator said he did not attend the signing of the report on the budget bill which was held during a meeting at a hotel in Makati City.

He mentioned that one reason why he skipped the meeting was because his office received a USB containing two files – the “Source” file and the “List” file – from the Lower House on Tuesday night.

“Our preliminary scrutiny of the last-minute insertions made by the House would indicate that the Source File is the list of 1,253 budget items worth P83.219B that was apparently used as the congressmen’s ‘source’ of their ‘list’ of 742 projects worth P16.345B that were inserted in the bicam report that was signed by both panels this morning,” he said.

“Since there is no preliminary explanation from the House regarding the two files, we cannot ascertain if indeed only P16.345B or the bigger amount of P83.219B was inserted at the last minute prior to the bicam signing,” he added.

He continued with: “What is clear, though, is that there are still lump sums and vaguely described projects that are now part of the bicam report.”

Lacson said that their initial check of the files showed that the top provinces with huge allocations include:

  • Albay – P670M
  • Cavite – P580M
  • Sorsogon – P570M
  • Batangas – P502M
  • Bulacan – P440M
  • Pangasinan – P420M
  • Cebu – P410M

He also claimed that 117 flood control projects worth P3.179-billion dominated the insertions, “with eight projects uniformly budgeted at P60 million each.”

“There are more corruption-driven insertions in the Files sent to us that I have not mentioned. Thus, we will continue to diligently scrutinize it and inform the DBM and the Office of the President as I have high hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will again display his aversion to corruption,” he added.

“Pork is here to stay. I hope the President will again exercise his political will in vetoing line items that will obviously waste people’s tax money,” he further stated.

Lacson files bill seeking creation of PH Judicial Marshal Service

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill seeking the creation of the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service that would secure the officers and personnel of the judiciary.

In filing Senate Bill 1209, Lacson said it is high-time that Congress ensures the protection of incumbent judges and justices “so they can do their jobs independently and without fear of retaliation.

The lawmaker said no less than Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta emphasized the need for judicial marshals to serve as the law enforcement arm of the Court, similar to the Supreme Court of the United States Police and United States Marshal.

Lacson noted that in the last two decades, at least 31 members of the judiciary were reportedly, five of which happened during the Duterte administration.

“This legislative measure seeks to create a Philippine Judicial Marshal Service under the control and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court whose primary function is to protect, safeguard, watch over, provide security, and ensure the safety of justices, judges, court officials and personnel, and the various halls of justice, courthouses and other court buildings and properties all over the country,” he said in his explanatory note of the measure.

“Further, said Marshal Service shall likewise, have the authority to conduct threat assessments and undertake investigations of crimes and other offenses committed, including potential security threats,” he added.

The bill also mandates the Philippine Judicial Marshal Service to investigate allegations of irregularities, including graft and corruption, committed by justices, judges, court officials and personnel.

“The Philippine Judicial Marshal Service shall likewise assist in the execution and implementation of court orders,” the bill states.

The service shall be headed by the Chief Marshal, who shall have the same rank of a Court of Appeals associate justice. Assisting the Chief Marshal are three Deputy Marshals – one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Each Deputy Marshal shall have the same rank as a Regional Trial Court judge.

The measure requires the Chief Marshal and Deputy Marshals to be a lawyer and must have been at least a full Colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police.

Both officers shall be appointed by the Supreme Court en banc and shall serve until age 65.

An initial funding of P50 million from the National Treasury will be appropriated for the wages and other expenses of personnel, and for supplies and equipment.

Lacson: Robredo should justify need to divulge drug war findings

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo (L) and Senator Panfilo Lacson (R)

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson believes that Vice President Leni Robredo should justify the need to reveal her findings during her short stint as the co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

“Kung gagawin ganoon lalong lalala, ang wedge lalapad. It’s her call. Kailangan justify niya rin,” Lacson told reporters at the Senate on Monday when asked for comment on Robredo’s statement.

“But sa akin I don’t think it’s still necessary. What for? Dahil binigyan ka ng katungkulan na gagampanan mo, ngayong natanggal ka, isisiwalat mo ang mga natuklasan mo?” he added.

The senator said if the information will help improve the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, then Robredo should reveal it “by all means.”

“Depende sa anong isisiwalat niya. If it is to destroy or impede ang anti-illegal drugs campaign, huwag naman sana,” he said.

“Pero kung natuklasan niya para ma-enhance ang fight against illegal drugs, then by all means,” he added.

Lacson also said that if Robredo plans to divulge mistakes that would make some people criminally liable then she should have done it while she was still holding the post.

“Pero kung may nakita siyang pagkakamali that would point to several persons that could be held criminally liable, dapat noong nasa position siya,” he said.

The vice president earlier vowed to remain determined to end the killings under the government’s war on drugs despite her termination as ICAD’s co-chairperson.

She also promised to report to the public some information about the drug war and her recommendations.

Over the weekend, Malacañang confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Robredo in response to the opposition’s dare to remove her from post due to lack of trust.

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