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Neophyte Congressmen undergo Legislators Executive Course at HOR

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Newly elected congressmen have begun their training on legislation Monday (June 17) for them to get oriented on their roles and responsibilities as lawmakers in the 18th Congress that will officially open on July 22.   

Fifteen neophyte congressmen formed the first batch of three who will undergo the 3-day Legislators Executive Course at the House of Representatives (HOR).

The HOR and the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) organized the executive course for new members of the incoming Congress.

The three batches of training are from Monday to Wednesday on June 17 to 19, June 24 to 26 and July 1 to 3.

By the end of the course, “participants shall have gained knowledge, honed skills and imbibed good values on policy-making particularly on development policy, planning, and programming for a better quality of life, well-being and sustainable human development” as indicated in the course overview.

UP National College on Pulbic Administration dean Maria Fe Mendoza assured, “tutulungan namin sila na malaman nila kung ang legislative process ang policy proces paaano sila gagalaw sa policy system mayroon tayo kasi hindi lahat ng gusto nilang gawin ay mangayayari mahirap kasi ang bill to become a law.”

House secretary-general Robert Maling said they will also focus on delineating the difference of the workflow between the local and national governments.

“Marami sa kanila ang galing sa local yung transition kasi from the local to the congress medyo kailangang gawin nating madali para sa kanila,” said Maling.

One of the trainees, Navotas Representative John Rey Tiangco, said that as a former city mayor, he embraced the necessity of undergoing the course, although such is not a requirement from them, as he recognizes the fact that the work of a mayor is so much different from that of a congressman.  

“Iba ang trabaho ng mayor sa Congressman. First time natin magiging congressman at iba sa legislation,” Tiangco added. (with reports from Grace Casin) /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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Senators file pet bills for 18th Congress

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019

The country’s senators have started filing their pet bills on Monday (July 1) as they begin their regular office work in preparation for the official opening of the 18th Congress on July 22 for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Every senator will file their first 10 priority bills.

The first who filed his bills is Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

His proposals include the following:

  1. Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency
  2. Anti Drug Penal  Institution
  3. Medical Scholarship Act
  4. Amendments to Human Security Act
  5. Hybrid Elections Act
  6. 14th Month Pay Law
  7. Anti Fake News Act
  8. Increasing Penalty of Perjury
  9. Sim Card Registration Act
  10. Dangerous Drugs Court

Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara also filed his pet bills, as follows:

  1. Upgrading Salary Grade Level of Teachers from 11 to 19
  2. Under Privileged Students’ Discount Act
  3. Increasing the Monthly Pension of Senior Citizens
  4. Dialysis Center Act
  5. Resolution on Dialysis Fraud

Senator Bong Revilla Jr also filed his priority bills for the 18th Congress, which include:

  1. P125 Daily Across-the-Board increase in the Salary Rates of Employees in Private Sector
  2. Lowering the Mandatory & Optional Retirement Age of Government employees

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, filed the following:

  1. Coco Levy Act
  2. National Land Use Act of 2019
  3. Proposed Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources
  4. Proposed Department of Disaster & Emergency Management
  5. Rainwater Management Bill
  6. Single-Use Plastic Regulation & Management Act
  7. Basic Education Teachers Pay Increase Act

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Ralph Recto, on the other hand, will once again file the bills entitled Sogie Equality Bill or the Anti-Discrimation Bill and the One Town, One Doctor Bill, respectively.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva said he will propose measures regarding the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers.

“Gustong gusto natin yung Bagong Bayani Filipino hospital for our OFW and then yung OFW insurance act,” said Villanueva.

Senator Lito Lapid, on the other hand, signified his desire to strengthen the free legal assistance and will propose a measure to resolve the water shortage, according to his son, Mark Lapid.

“Siyempre gusto niyang magsubmit ng paano natin (sosolusyunan) ang water crisis,” Lapid said.

Meanwhile, the offices of the newly elected senators are currently under renovation.

These include the offices of Senators Pia Cayetano, Bong Revilla, Ronald Bato dela Rosa who personally visited his office, Bong Go, and Lito Lapid.

The equipment and furniture of the outgoing senators are now pulled out of their former offices.  (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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