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Makabayan bloc wants probe on death of 14 in Negros Oriental

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Members of the Makabayan bloc files House Resolution 2533 on April 3, 2019 that calls on CHR to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on March 30, 2019

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Makabayan Bloc wants the House of Representatives to probe the killing of 14 farmers during a police operation in Negros Oriental on Saturday (March 30).

READ: PNP Chief relieves Negros Oriental top cops over farmers’ killing

The bloc has filed House Resolution 2533 on Wednesday (April 3) which calls on the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate on the killings.

“The killings in Negros Oriental are crimes against humanity, targeted assassinations of leaders and members of local peasant organizations perpetrated by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the guise of anti-criminality operations,” according to their statement.

Anakpawis party-list Representative Ariel Casilao said that he doesn’t believe that the slain individuals fought back.

“Our initial collation of data and testimonies from the survivors and the family of the victims point that there was a summary execution—a summary execution style,” Casilao said.

Based on the report, the chairperson of Hukom or Hugpong Kusog Mag-uuma sa Canlaon and two barangay chairman in Manjuyod were among the individuals killed.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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House closely working with intel units for Duterte’s 4th SONA security

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Joint Session of the 17th Congress at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives Complex in Constitution Hills, Quezon City on July 23, 2018.
(Image courtesy of PCOO/KARL NORMAN ALONZO)

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday said it is closely working with government intelligence agencies for the security of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Retired Major General Romeo Prestoza said they are directly coordinating with relevant intelligence units to evaluate any risks to the House or President Duterte during the SONA.

He said the increased security follows the recent bombings that rocked Sulu in Mindanao.

“Well part of it kasi, sa experience ko kasi I’ve been an intelligence officer for 27 years, those things talagang kinoconsider namin. Hindi namin pinapabayaan, tinitingnan namin,” Prestoza said in a press briefing about the SONA 2019 preparations.

“That’s why we initiate ‘yung direct na contact with the NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency), ISAFP (Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines) and other intelligence units to see kung meron talagang connection or possibility na umabot dito,” he added.

However, Prestoza assured they have yet to see substantial security threats to the upcoming SONA, which Duterte will deliver at the Batasang Pambansa.

“When it comes to security threats, wala pa namang substantial, meaning talagang wala pang nakarating na actual na threat,” he said.

He also emphasized that the House security is prepared and well-equipped to handle security issues.

“We have extensive training and seminars to include simulation exercises and tabletop exercises para in case na meron nga, we would be prepared. Even ‘yung protocols, when it comes to emergencies ginagawa din namin,” Prestoza said.

When it comes to directing signal jammers on SONA day, Prestoza said the Presidential Security Group (PSG) shall be responsible for it based on their assessment of the proceedings.

“Kung kailangan nila or they feel they need to initiate na the jamming procedure, sila makakapag-dictate noon. I cannot dictate it,” he said.

In the same press briefing, House Acting Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling said that preparation activities for SONA remain on track and are the same as in previous years.

“Basically, the preparation has been the same through the years except siguro for very minor details, mga maliliit na arrangements lang. It doesn’t really deviate from what has been happening from the past years,” Maling said.

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Duterte: I don’t want to interfere in House affairs

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte clarified that he does not want to interfere with the affairs of the legislative branch but had to step in to end the impasse on the House Speakership.

“Nobody was sure to vote for whom, and they kept on asking who is the president’s candidate. So I shied away and said, no, if you can resolve the matter comfortably between you, do it,” he said. “I hate to intrude. But apparently, considering what happened in the last few days, and malapit na ang session (the opening of session is already near), I said… it’s time for me to talk.”

Duterte announced term-sharing between Taguig City representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque representative Lord Allan Velasco as House speakers.

The chief executive made the announcement on Monday (July 9) during the oath-taking of new presidential appointees.

“Your Speaker will be Alan Peter Cayetano. He shares the term with Lord Velasco,” he said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, Cayetano will lead the House for the first 15 months, while Velasco will take over in the next 21 months.

“[In] the next 21 months, the Speaker will be Lord Allan Velasco, with Martin Romualdez as the majority leader,” he said.—AAC

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Makabayan bloc announces candidacy of Zarate for House Speaker

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate

The Makabayan bloc has formally announced the candidacy of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate as speaker of the House of Representatives.

Zarate is the 6th congressman to express interest in becoming the next House Speaker in the 18th Congress.

According to outgoing ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Congress needs a leader that will prioritize the interest of the people and not the interest of other countries.

“Kailangan ng speaker na ipaglalaban ang karapatan ng magasasaka, kababaihan, manggagawa, kabataan, lumad at iba pa. Tunay na lalabanan ang kurapsyon at titindig sa human rights, (We need a speaker who will fight for the rights of farmers, women, workers, youth, Lumad and others. He will truly fight against corruption and will stand for human rights),” he said.

READ: PDP-Laban endorses Velasco as House Speaker bet

Other lawmakers who are also vying for the position are Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, incoming Taguig 1st District Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Gonzalez, and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

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