Lapid files bill seeking broadband connection in all PH areas

Robie de Guzman   •   June 19, 2020   •   392

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Lito Lapid on Friday said he has filed a bill aiming to establish broadband internet connection in all areas, especially in “underserved and unserved” cities, municipalities and barangays, in the country.

In a statement, Lapid said his Senate Bill 1598 also known as “Last Mile Broadband Internet Connection Act,” would mandate telecommunication companies to set up a facility for broadband internet connection in far-flung or isolated areas for every mobile phone number subscription.

The senator said he filed the measure after recognizing the vital role that the internet is playing, especially in terms of information and communication, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lapid believes that all aspects of the people’s social and economic life are now being continually and consistently being shaped by the internet and its associated technologies, including telehealth, online education, digital commerce and trading, and financial technology.

“Sa kasamaang palad, marami sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi makasabay sa pagtungo natin sa digital age,” he said.

“Problema pa rin ng marami sa atin ang mabilis na internet connection at para sa mga mahihirap nating kapatid, ang pagkakaroon ng internet ay isang bagay na hindi kasama sa kanilang prayoridad lalo sa maliit nilang kinikita. Problema din ang kuneksyon sa internet sa malalayong lugar o isolated areas,” he added.

The measure seeks to task the National Telecommunications Commission to conduct a study to determine areas in the country that are in great need of internet connection and monitor the compliance of Telcos to this program.

“Oras na maisabatas ang panukalang ito, inaasahan natin na walang komunidad ang maiiwan pagdating sa internet connectivity. Lalo sa panahon ngayon na hindi na lamang luho ang internet kung isang mahalagang pangangailangan para sa trabaho at edukasyon,” Lapid said.

Lapid eyes moratorium on student loan payment during disasters, emergencies

Robie de Guzman   •   June 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Lito Lapid on Wednesday said he has filed a bill seeking to provide moratorium on student loans during times of disasters and emergencies like the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lapid said he recently filed Senate Bill 1538 which seeks to defer the collection of payment of all charges and costs relating to the student loan programs for Higher Education and Technical-Vocational Education and Training during calamities and emergency situations.

“Hindi natin mapipigil ang pagdating ng kalamidad o disaster sa ating bansa at walang may gusto nito, pero ang tanging magagawa na lamang natin ay tulungan lalo na ang ating mahihirap na kababayan na hindi lamang makaahon kundi masiguro na ang kanilang mga anak ay tuloy ang pag-aaral at huwag muna nilang problemahin ang loans at utang sa kanilang eskwelahan, ” Lapid said in a statement.

The senator underscored that during times of crisis, Filipino families prioritize their basic needs and the proposed measure would help them without neglecting their children’s education.

“Karaniwang ang prayoridad ng ating mga kababayan sa ganitong mga panahon ay pambili ng pagkain, gamot at pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan. Habang ang mga gastusin sa edukasyon gaya ng tuition o iba pang bayarin sa paaralan ay isasantabi na muna ng ilang pamilya dahil wala na silang natitirang salapi para dito,” he said.

“Kaya sa pamamagitan ng paglalagay ng moratorium sa students loans ay makakatulong tayo para maisalba kahit papaano ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” he added.

Under the bill, the moratorium shall take effect after the national or local government declares a state of calamity or emergency.

The student loan payment deferment shall cover the period of such declaration up to 30 days until its termination.

If the declaration exceeds 60 days, the payment of student fees may be deferred untl the end of the next academic semester or term.

The moratorium will cover loans administered by the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) or by the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) Board, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or any other government agency and instrumentality.

The bill also states that a student’s enrollment or graduation eligibility is protected even if the moratorium would be availed of.

The measure also mandates the retroactive application of the moratorium to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free professional exams for poor college grads pushed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   July 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid has filed a bill seeking to exempt poor college graduates from paying fees for professional examinations administered by the government.

Lapid said the need to pay fees in order to take the said licensure examinations is a hindrance for many graduates from indigent families.

Under Senate Bill No. 276 or “the Free Professional Examinations Act,” the lawmaker wants to exempt from paying licensure examination fees those who have no visible income or support, or whose incomes are insufficient for the basic needs of his or her family.

College graduates who will qualify for the proposed program will be determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

With this bill, Lapid underscored the need for the government to unburden these underprivileged graduates by enabling them to take professional exams without having to spend money.

“Maaring ito ay maliit na halaga lamang para sa iba, ngunit sa mga estudyanteng galing sa mahihirap na pamilya na nakatapos ng pag-aaral sa pamamagitan ng scholarships o di kaya naman ay nagtapos sa ating mga State Universities and Colleges kung saan libre na ang edukasyon, ito ay napakalaking bagay na,” he said.

These licensure examinations include those conducted by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), eligibility examinations by the Civil Service Commission, as well as the Bar examinations held by the Supreme Court.

Comelec: Lito Lapid yet to file statement of campaign expense

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2019

Lito Lapid

MANILA, Philippines – Of the12 winners in the 2019 Senate race, only Lito Lapid has not filed his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE), data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed.

Lapid was the lone Senate winner who missed the June 13 deadline for the filing before Comelec’s Campaign Finance Office.

Winning senators who were able to comply with the requirement included Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Christopher “Bong” Go, Pia Cayateno, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Nancy Binay.

Based on their submitted SOCEs, Go spent the most on his campaign with P161 million followed by Tolentino with P159 million, Poe with P156 million, Angara with P153 million, Villar with P153 million, Marcos P132 million, and Revilla who spend P121 million.

Senate poll winners who spent less than P100 million on their campaign were Nancy Binay (P56 million), Cayetano (P73 million), Pimentel (P79 million) and dela Rosa (P92 million).

Section 14 of Republic Act 1766 requires every candidate and political party to file with the Commission the full, true and itemized SOCE within 30 days after the election day.

Also required to file such document are those whose campaigns were self-funded, those who did not incur any expenditure, and those who did not pursue their campaign activities even after filing their candidacies or those who withdrew their candidacies.

The poll body said that based on Comelec resolution 10505, the office of an elected candidate who failed to submit the required documents shall be considered vacant pursuant to Section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until he/she has complied within six months from the proclamation.

“Technically, hindi dapat sila makapag-assume ng Office,” said Director James Jimenez, spokesperson for Comelec, adding that in the case of senators the Senate leadership will “ultimately enforce that rule.”

Jimenez said they are yet to find any questionable information in SOCEs so far as they continue to assess the documents.

“Wala pa tayong na-identify specifically na questionable submissions and that’s not really a surprise considering the number of submissions that we have and the volume of each submission, kung gaano siya kakapal,” Jimenez said.

The poll official assured to take necessary measures should they find any suspicious data in the statement of campaign expense submitted by 2019 poll candidates and parties. (with details from Aiko Miguel)


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