Relatives of victims in Negros killings call on Senate for justice

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 27, 2019   •   804

Relatives of victims in the Negros Oriental killings called for justice at the Senate hearing on Tuesday (Aug 27).

In the latest record of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the New People’s Army (NPA) was allegedly behind five of the 11 killings in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, based on the record of Senator Risa Hontiveros, there had been 34 killings that happened in Negros Oriental this year which include the 14 farmers massacred in Nene, Sagay City, Negros Oriental last March 30.

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

Juthida Callao, the mother of one of the victims, still laments the loss of her child.

“Ang sakit sakit sa kalooban namin na ganun ang ginawa ng NPA sa kanila, (What the NPA did is very painful to us),” she said.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Dangerous Drugs Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa assured they will do all means to curb violence in the area.

“We want to ensure that justice will be served and the perpetrators of the barbaric murders will be punished,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

House to transmit 2021 budget to Senate ahead of Oct. 28 deadline – Velasco

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to transmit to the Senate its version of the P4.506-trillion proposed 2021 national budget, a day before the promised date of Oct. 28, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Tuesday.

Velasco earlier said he and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed on the date as the deadline of transmission.

The House speaker said the record-high budget was designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We increased the allocation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by more than three-fold to cover more Filipinos. We also provided extra allocation for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to help improve the country’s health care system,” Velasco said in a statement.

“The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to aid workers displaced by COVID-19 and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic,” he added.

The lower chamber passed the budget bill on third and final reading last Oct. 17 after it was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bill was approved a few days after Velasco was elected to the House’s top post following the removal of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as Speaker. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Senate OKs bill granting President special powers vs red-tape

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant the President the authority to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses, and certifications during national emergency.

Voting 23-0 on Wednesday, senators approved Senate Bill 1844 which grants power to the president to suspend the requirements for national and local permits, licenses, and certifications, and to streamline and speed up the process for the issuance of such documents.

The measure was passed shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte certified it as urgent.

The bill covers all agencies of the executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils; government instrumentalities, government owned and controlled corporations and local government units.

Under the measure, the President shall have the authority to accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications and renewals of permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations, including fixing or shortening the periods provided for under existing laws, regulations, issuances and ordinances.

It also authorizes the President to suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.

In consultation with or upon recommendation of affected government agencies, the President may also prescribe to be permanent the streamlined regulatory processes and procedures, and the suspension or waiver of the requirements in securing permits, licenses, clearances, and certifications or authorizations.

The proposal likewise reiterates the power of the chief executive given by the Constitution to remove or suspend any government official or employee as provided under the measure.

The bill, however, provides that the authority to be granted to the President “shall not be used to undermine the existing procedures and processes, under applicable laws, rules, and regulations, meant to protect the environment, especially those that aim to safeguard protected areas and its buffer zones, and environmentally critical areas.”

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who sponsored the bill, said the measure was made under the same principle as that of the Bayanihan 2 provisions to extend the President’s authority beyond the current pandemic and any national emergency that the country might face in the future.

He said the measure could ease the already heavy burden of the businesses that were heavily hit and continuously being beaten by the gargantuan effects of the pandemic.

“This is a good accompanying measure to the ease of doing business. I think a lot of good will come out of this and I believe that with this, the President will be emboldened to remove more people for their ineptitude and incompetence,” he said in a statement.

The bill was authored by Zubiri, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Senate approves proposed franchise for construction of New Manila International Airport in Bulacan

Marje Pelayo   •   October 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate of the Philippines on Monday (October 12) approved on third and final reading the franchise bill seeking the construction of the New Manila International Airport in the province of Bulacan.

House Bill 7507 grants San Miguel Aerocity Incorporated, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation, to start the 10-year project that includes the creation of an ‘Airport City.’

The company will shoulder the overall expenses of P736-B and no amount will come from the national government, and during that period, it shall be exempted from all direct and indirect taxes and fees.

The franchise also awards San Miguel Corporation the right to operate the airport for 40 years from opening before the government may take over its operations. within which, it shall be exempted from income and property taxes until it has recouped its investments.

Senator Grace Poe, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has earlier assured her colleagues that the projected economic growth in the province will compensate for the revenues that the government is expected to lose due to the tax incentives that will be given to the developer during the 50-year franchise.

Poe added that the project will generate jobs for Filipinos.

“The San Miguel Airport alone will provide 450,000 during the construction phase alone and then after that, upwards of a million people will be able to benefit in this undertaking,” she said.

Senator Joel Villanueva thanked his colleague for the support of the project which he believes will be a big boost to the economy of his home province.

Senator Richard Gordon, meanwhile, believes that the new airport will help decongest other airports in Luzon such as the Clark International Airport and Manila International Airport once constructed.

The new facility is expected to accommodate 100 to 200 million passengers every year. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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