I was informed by the Senate President that we are ready to hold the Special Session tomorrow at 2pm. The House of Representatives, through Speaker Alan Cayetano, confirmed that they are ready as well.
I was informed that the Office of the President will transmit to the legislators the proposed budget being requested, the proposed powers and authority needed for it to be utilized efficiently by the agencies, and other proposals, particularly for granting additional food and cash assistance to affected Filipinos, especially those belonging to the vulnerable sectors.
According to the Office of the President, the Presidential Proclamation to be released will call for a Special Session anytime from March 21 to 23. However, the Legislative branch will try to finish it tomorrow night given the urgency of the situation.
As a legislator, I am ready to attend. Both Houses of Congress should make sure that proper safeguards will be in place in the conduct of the Special Session in compliance with the President’s orders to exercise social distancing measures. The government as a whole shall continue to do its job in a manner that will not put the health of others at risk.
Sa panahon ng krisis, hindi pwedeng ipagpaliban ang tulong sa kapwa Pilipino, tuloy-tuloy tayong magseserbisyo.
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has retained his post as Senate President after a majority of senators voted for him at the start of the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress on Monday.
During the opening of the session, lawmakers voted viva-voce to support his continuing leadership in the upper chamber of the Congress.
Viva-voce voting is done where lawmakers will shout aye for their bet.
Also reelected are Senator Ralph Recto as Senate President Pro-tempore, and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as Majority Floor Leader.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will also continue leading the opposition bloc.
Twenty-two senators were present during the opening of the session; absent were Senator Manny Pacquiao, who he is still in Las Vegas, Nevada after his boxing bout with Keith Thurman, and Senator Leila de Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
After the voting, Sotto led the oath-taking of newly-elected Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Lito Lapid, Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel, Francis Tolentino, Nancy Binay and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed on Wednesday that Patrick Joemel Advincula had gone to his office in 2016 to give information against Former President Benigno Aquino III and his then cabinet members.
Sotto presented a matrix of Advincula’s separate sworn statements when he went to his office in 2016 and when he went to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on May 6.
Based on his statement in 2016, Advincula implicated Aquino and several cabinet members in illegal drugs trade.
“Doon sa mga patron na sinasabi niya, makikita ninyo listahan na may mga code, code pa sýa [The patrons he was referring to, you would see a list that has codes]. In the list, Elizalde Co, former President Benigno Aquino, former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, former DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, Teresita Raniola, Congressman Fernando Gonzales, Congressman Luis Villafuerte at [and] Thomas Enrile. Ito ‘yung mga patron ng Quadrangle Syndicate [These are the patrons of Quadrangle Syndicate],” Sotto said.
According to the Senate president, several names mentioned in Advincula’s statement in 2016 were also mentioned in his statement at the IBP.
Sotto, however, added that this time, it was former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, Attorney Manases Carpio and former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go whom Advincula was prominently implicating to the narcotics trade.
Sotto also said that back in 2016, his office even checked the bank account that Advincula claimed was where the syndicate deposited drug money, which the bank then vehemently denied.
The senator added that Advincula changed his statement when his staff questioned him about the bank’s denial of the account.
“Ang kwento niya, pasensya na, Sir, naglihim ako sa inyo at natatakot na rin ako sa seguridad ko. Di ko sa iyo sinabi noong una ang tunay na strategies nila sa pagdeposit ng pera sa China. Malinis ang sindikato dito. Ang lahat ng deposit account nila ay QNBC,” according to Hutch Altavas, Senator Sotto’s political assistant.
The senator added, “yung QNBC, yung dinescribe niya, pinatanong namin. Ang sabi Quill Net Banking Corporations ng HSBC. Tinanong ko rin yung sa HSBC yun, sabi niya theres no such thing.”
Sotto said this was why his office did not take Advincula’s claim seriously.
The senator even said that Alias Bikoy’s latest claim has now, for him, become dubious as he just changed some details from his 2016 story.
“So perhaps the best thing again to learn from this lesson, perhaps a good lesson to IBP and religious sector na huwag basta basta ika nga e patol nang patol sa mga ito,” the Senate President said. – Maris Federez
FILE PHOTO: Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have denied being dissatisfied with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III’s stint as senate president.
This, after a recent statement from Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito about talks of discontent among senators concerning pimentel’s administration as the senate president.
The senators also denied alleged plans of voting for Sen. Pimentel’s replacement.
“That’s not true, I have not heard that, it’s only now. Sa pagkakakilala ko sa mga kasama kong senador, eh isa nga ako sa mga unang makakaalam niyan kung mayroong ganyan,” said majority floor leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III.
(That’s not true, I have not heard that, it’s only now. Based on what I know of my fellow senators, I would be among the first to know if there are such moves.)
“To be honest, I have not heard of those. There are no discussions or chatters among the senators…so as you know, I guess in the political atmosphere, it is highly politically charged,” said Sen. Bam Aquino.
In separate statements, Senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros said they are not privy to such plans.
De Lima even expressed her confidence in Pimentel as the leader of the Senate.
“I know him to be really a good, honest and decent person and therefore a good, honest and decent leader. He used to be a client of mine, so I know the person of Senate President Koko,” she said.
Even in the closed-door meeting of the senators, there was no discussion about the senate presidency.
Sen. Sotto said the meeting was centered on the senate’s priority bills as it resumes sessions.
These include bills that have been sponsored on the floor such as freedom of information bill, the proposed granting of emergency powers to the President; the expanded Sotto Law for media practitioners; coco levy and the proposed amendments to Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Also included in the priority bills are the 24 “pet bills” of each senator that are not controversial and contentious.
Among them are the upgrade in the Anti-Hazing Law filed by Sen. Sotto; Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment Act of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Sen. Grace Poe’s proposal for a feeding program in public elementary schools.
The Senate will resume its session next week in which they will tackle these priority bills that they aim to pass in the first two months this year. — Joyce Balancio | UNTV News and Rescue
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