Senate Committees approve proposal to increase statutory rape age to 16

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 1, 2020   •   213

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 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)

Senate calls for suspension of online banking transfer fees amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 2, 2020

Several senators have called for a suspension of service fees for online banking transactions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Sonny Angara said each peso for every Filipino family is important especially with the difficulties everyone is facing because of the pandemic.

Ang buong gobyerno ay gumagawa ng paraan para tulungan ang lahat ng sektor na tinamaan ng pandemiya. Ang waiver ng fees sa digital transactions ay maliit na bagay na makakabawas kahit paano sa mga pasanin ng ating mga kababayan (The whole government is finding ways to help all sectors affected by the pandemic. The waiver of fees for digital transactions is a small thing which can lessen the burden of the people),” he said in a statement.

Senator Imee Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, supported Angara’s plea saying people who lost their jobs are turning to online selling as an alternative livelihood. She said waiving online transfer fees will be helpful to these online sellers.

Iyong mga nawalan ng trabaho ay napwersang maghanap ng alternatibong pagkakakitaan sa online dahil sa pandemya. Suportahan natin at tulungan silang mapalago ang maliliit na online business ngayong panahon ng krisis (Those who lost their jobs are forced to find alternative livelihood online due to the pandemic. Let us support and help them in their small online businesses in this time of crisis),” she said.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously announced that several banks will resume their online transfer fees by October. However, several of the banks decided to extend the suspension until December 31.

Banks that have suspend online transfer fees for Instapay and Pisonet until December 31.

  • Asia United Bank
  • Bank of Commerce
  • Cebuana Lhuillier Rural Bank
  • China Bank Savings, Inc.
  • China Banking Corporation
  • CIMB Bank Philippines Inc.
  • Citibank (for retail clients)
  • CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corp.,
  • DCPay (for retail clients)
  • Development Bank of the Philippines
  • Eastwest Bank
  • Equicom Savings Bank
  • HSBC Savings Bank
  • Hongkong and Shanghai Bangking Corporation
  • ING Bank, N.V.
  • Land Bank of the Philippines
  • Maybank Philippines (for retail clients)
  • Metrobank
  • Philippine Bank of Communications (P1.00 fee due to system constraints)
  • Philippine Business Bank
  • Philippine National Bank
  • Philippine Savings Bank
  • Philippine Veterans Bank
  • Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC)
  • Robinsons Bank Corp.
  • Rural Bank of Guinobatan
  • Security Bank Corp.
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Sterling Bank of Asia
  • Union Bank of the Philippines
  • United Coconut Planters Bank

Meanwhile, E-money issuers including G-Cash, MUFG Bank LTD., and PayMaya announced that they will suspend their transaction fees until October 31. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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