Senate approves bill creating Philippine High School for Sports

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020   •   2253

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to create a national high school dedicated for the training and development of future generations of Filipino world champions has been approved on third and final reading, the Senate said Wednesday.

Senate Bill No. 1086 aims to establish the Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) which will offer a secondary course with special emphasis on developing the athletic skills of the students through subjects pertaining to physical education and sports development.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the PHSS would be a world-class educational and athletics facility which is at par with international standards.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, noted that despite the fact that Filipinos love sports, the Philippines has been lagging behind other countries in sporting competitions and events.

He said the Philippines has been joining the Summer Olympic Games since 1924, but Filipino athletes only garnered 10 medals, and not a single gold medal.

Of the 13 Philippine athletes to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he also noted that the silver-medal garnered by Hidilyn Diaz in the women’s weightlifting was the country’s only sport in the podium in any event.

Gatchalian added that Filipino athletes lack the support due them that other countries give to their athletes.

“The end view of this legislation is to unleash the potential of young Filipinos who have shown early potential of excelling in sports for a sports-related career,” he said.

Under the measure, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) will provide the land for the PHSS at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, and will be in charge of the construction of classrooms, dormitories, other sports facilities and related amenities.

The PHSS shall offer full or partial scholarship programs to students who have demonstrated the potential of excelling in sports.

Its students will also be provided with quality secondary education in their chosen tract which shall not be limited to the sports track under the supervision of the Department of Education.

Senate Committees approve proposal to increase statutory rape age to 16

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020

The Senate Committees have approved the proposal to increase the statutory rape age to 16.

The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality approved the proposed measure on Thursday (October 10). Aside from the increase in the statutory rape age, the age for sexual consent was also raised from 12 to 16.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the authors of the bill, said it is time to amend the law especially due to the increase of sexual violence cases among children.

“As legislators, we need to ensure that our children are protected and that we set measures that will mitigate if not totally eradicate these alarming cases and statistics on sexual violence against children and teenage pregnancies,” Zubiri said.

The Philippines currently has the age of sexual consent at 12 which is the lowest in Asia and among the lowest in the world. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senate recommends forming committee to look into PhilHealth funds

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is recommending the formation of a committee that will look into the funds of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

The Senator laments that even the Department of Finance cannot determine PhilHealth’s state in as fas as its budget is concerned due to the agency’s weak information system.

Drilon wants an Ad hoc committee composed of financial experts from the Social Security System (SSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and other insurance corporations that will verify PhilHealth’s financial status.

This is to determine how much subsidy the agency can provide for next year.

One of PhilHealth’s officials previously revealed that the agency’s reserve funds will not be enough if the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues. The official also revealed the agency will only last until 2022 which was questioned by several lawmakers.

“How much really does it need in order to continue its operation? Is P71 billion the correct amount? Is it more? Is it less? This [the committee] will also give us the opportunity to review how much should be due to our health system in general,” Drilon said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III supports this recommendation. Sotto agrees that there is a need to review PhilHealth’s financial situation.

“We suggested yesterday that there should be an urgent and extensive review and inspection of the corporation’s financial life,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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Gatchalian wants to regulate online business transactions to protect consumers

Robie de Guzman   •   September 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday pushed for the passage of a bill seeking to put in place strict regulations to protect consumers amid the radical change in the country’s business climate with more online businesses registering.

In a statement, Gatchalian said his Senate Bill No. 1591 or the Internet Transactions Act aims to update the country’s regulatory environment to protect consumers from “unethical and unscrupulous practices” on the internet.

Gatchalian said it is important for the government regulatory board and online shopping platforms “to get their acts together” to easily track down those liable from unscrupulous online trading as more and more people and entrepreneurs are shifting their transactions online.

The lawmaker took note of the significant increase in the number of online businesses registering with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) from March 16 to August 31, or a total of 73,276 businesses registered. This is a sharp rise from the 1,753 online businesses that have registered with the agency before the strict community quarantine was imposed in the country.

While e-Commerce makes transactions easier and faster and strengthens the country’s digital economy, Gatchalian said consumers may run the risk of being fooled into buying products to the detriment of their health.

He is particularly referring to supplements being sold in various online selling platforms despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration.

“This is a dilemma of the future. There are a lot of online platforms right now and they have the entire marketplace where suppliers can get all the products all over the world. Walang habol ang online buyers kung may problema sa nabili nilang produkto. They are left holding the bag,” he said.

“So, this is something that the bill wants to solve – to make online platforms liable so that they can keep track of the supplies they’re selling in the marketplace,” he added.

He said online selling platforms should step up and implement measures to stop unscrupulous activities.

“What are they doing to stop this? Up to this time, this is still happening. Our kababayans are consuming all products they see online but obviously these online platforms are not doing enough,” he added.

Gatchalian stressed that it is paramount to enact the bill into law to resolve key concerns in the country’s eCommerce industry such as internet and logistics infrastructure, payment mechanisms, taxation, and online consumer complaints.

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