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Lacson sees conflict of interest on presence of Sec Duque in Philhealth Board

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson (L) and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (R)

Senator Panfilo Lacson reveals having possession of several documents that will prove of the seeming conflict of interest with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III sitting in as head of the Philhealth Board.

Lacson made the revelation amid the corruption issues haunting the government health insurance body.

He said, based on the copy of a contract of lease in his possession, the regional office that Philhealth is renting in Dagupan City is owned by Duque’s family.

“If this is not conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. Building mo, naka-contract of lease ka and that is a family corporation,” Lacson said.

He added that he also found out some more modus operandi happening inside Philhealth.

“There’s another modus operandi kung saan yung hospital mismo in cahoots with PhilHealth. Nagbibigay ng report extending confinement of patients na nadischarge na,” he added.

The senator said he is worried of what could possibly happen to the billions of pesos that is allotted as a fund for the Universal Health Care program with Duque at the helm of Philhealth.

Lacson said he will call for an investigation regarding the said issue once the 18th Congress officially opens in July. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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Capiz Rep. Castro eyeing House Minority leader post

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro

MANILA, Philippines – Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro is considering seeking the Minority Leader post when the 18th Congress opens later this month.

In a statement, Castro said he is seriously studying suggestions by other congressmen for him to take the post “to maintain a credible balance of opinion on all issues” in the House of Representatives.

“I am seriously considering whether I could maintain my balance considering the hairline difference between being a minority member from an opposition. This is because, critical collaboration as distinguished from being destructive is called for,” he said.

Castro said he is open to suggestion and will wait for guidance before he responds to his fellow lawmakers’ call.

The Capiz representative served as Majority leader in the latter part of the 17th Congress, replacing Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.

Castro’s statement comes after Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion for him to take the Majority Leader position instead following the latter’s endorsement of a term-sharing set-up between Congressmen Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco as House speaker.

READ: Romualdez accepts House Majority Leader job

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

But Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate opposed Castro’s bid, saying the Minority Leader should come from the genuine opposition.

“Mahirap namang hawak na nga nila ang leadership ng Congress ay pati minority leadership ay kukunin pa nila,” Zarate said in a statement.

(It is not right for them to have the minority leadership when they already have the leadership in Congress.)

“If someone is to be the minority leader, he should at least be part of the true minority who opposes the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the administration,” he added.

Zarate is the progressive Makabayan bloc’s candidate for House Speakership race. (with details from Grace Casin)

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Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”

“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.

Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.

“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.

“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.

 “It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.

He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”

Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.

“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.

The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.

It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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Exempting gov’t officials from Bank Secrecy Law, a challenge—Lacson

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson believes exempting government officials and employees from the Bank Secrecy Law would be a challenge in Congress.

Lacson seeks to amend Republic Act No. 1405 or the Bank Secrecy Law. It states that bank account information of any individuals, including government officials, cannot be disclosed to the public unless there is a written permission from the account owner or there is a subpoena from the court.

According to Lacson, the said law hinders or stalls investigation of government officials. Lacson has been seeking to amend the Bank Secrecy Law since 2001.

In the 18th Congress, Lacson will file a request to the Chairman of Banks Committee to become the subcommittee chairman.

“I don’t know if it will see the light in the 18th Congress. Having said that, I may request the Chair of the Banks Committee to designate me as subcommittee chairman and sponsor the bill myself, the same way I sponsored the national ID system as the subcommittee chairman under the Committee on Justice,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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