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Palace hopes proposed emergency powers will pass in 18th Congress

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday expressed hope that the Duterte administration’s proposed emergency powers to solve the perennial traffic problems in Metro Manila will be approved in the next Congress.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government remains hopeful that the proposal will hurdle the 18th Congress to ease the travel of commuters.

“Congress knows what is the problem so it should know what to do to respond to a situation. After all, they are there, just like the President, to serve the Filipino people and that includes putting the riding public in a convenient situation,” Panelo said in a Palace news briefing.

The measure seeking to grant President Duterte with emergency powers to combat traffic in Edsa, one of the country’s major thoroughfares, was stalled in the 17th Congress due to various issues.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier hinted that the bill may be given another shot in the next Congress.

President Duterte earlier vowed to reduce the travel time from Cubao in Quezon City to Makati to five minutes by December this year.

However, Panelo did not elaborate on the chief executive’s plan.

 “Surprise! He has something on his sleeves,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte signs ‘Bawal Bastos’ law

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the ‘Bawal Bastos’ act into law which penalizes cat-calling and other forms harassment in public places.

The Republic Act No 11313 or Safe Spaces Act was signed on April 17 and was released to the media on Monday (July 15).

Based on the newly signed law, there will be heftier penalties for acts of cat-calling, unwanted invitation, and sexist slurs.

“The state also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational and training institutions,” the law states.

Among the harassment acts include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance; relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions; public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any unwanted advances. The law also covers online sexual harassment and cyberstalking.

There will be various penalties depending on the crime committed.

First degree offenses will face P1,000 fine for a first offense, including 12-hour community service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Second degree offenses will face P10,000 fine for a first offense including 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Third degree offenses will face 11-30 days imprisonment, for a first offense with P30,000-fine and attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar.—AAC

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PH to deploy social welfare attachés for OFWs under new law

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW), especially those who have fallen prey to illegal recruiters.

Duterte signed the Republic Act 11299 on April 17, a copy of which was made public on Monday (July 15).

The newly-signed law amended the Republic Act 8402 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 to include the said office.

It mandates the Office for Social Welfare Attaché (SWA) to deploy personnel to countries with large concentration of Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under the measure, a social welfare attaché’s duty includes management of cases of Filipino workers in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and case of abandoned or neglected children;

SWAs are also mandated to undertake survey and prepare social welfare situationer on the OFWs in their areas of assignment; establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies or individuals which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate services.

They should also respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of Filipino workers and their families; establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families to provide effective social welfare services; submit regular reports on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations and updates on the situation of OFWs.

The law states that the budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the DFA, DOLE, the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are tasked to craft the measure’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of this act.

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Duterte signs law on student fare discount on all modes of transportation

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the bill imposing a 20 percent fare discount for students on all modes of public transportation.

Duterte signed Republic Act 11314 or the Student Fare Discount Act on April 17 but was only made public on Monday (July 15).

Under the law, a 20 percent discount for domestic regular fares of all kinds of public transportation shall be provided to students during the entire time they are enrolled in elementary, secondary, technical-vocational or higher education institution.

The law covers public utility buses, jeepneys, taxis and similar vehicles-for-hire, tricycles, passenger trains, aircrafts and marine vessels.

Student fare discount was only previously available for land transportation.

To avail the discount, the student should present his duly-issued school identification card or current validated enrollment form supported by the prescribed government-issued identification document.

The measure, however, does not apply to school service, shuttle service, tourist and any similar service covered by contract agreement and with valid franchise or permit from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The law also does not cover individuals enrolled in dancing, swimming or driving schools and other informal short courses of seminar type and post-graduate studies.

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