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Senate minority to push for suspension of excise tax

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philipppines – The Senate minority will file a resolution on Wednesday (October 10) to seek the suspension of the implementation of excise tax under the new tax reform law of the Duterte administration.

The resolution will be filed this afternoon by Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Kiko Pangilinan and Bam Aquino among others.

Meanwhile, the Senate considered it a welcome development that President Rodrigo Duterte is considering to suspend the excise tax on petroleum products come January next year.

Senator Aquino hopes the President will push it for next year while Senator Panfilo Lacson expressed favor to the President’s pronouncement.

“Umaasa po kami na kayang magkaisa ang iba’t ibang partido sa gobyerno upang magkatotoo ang suspension ng excise tax at bawasan ang presyo ng petrolyo,” Aquino said.

“Hindi pa naman ito ginagawa, hindi pa ito move pero maganda at least coming from him kino-consider niyang i-suspend. Because meron ngang provision doon na kapag nag-hit na ng US$80 per barrel dapat talaga i-suspend. Kaya lang sa bicam napalitan ng hindi absolute,” Lacson said.

Lacson added, however, that it is still best to wait the decision of the Chief Executive on the call to suspend the excise tax on oil products. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo

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Bato seeks to include substance abuse education in K-12 Program

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa has filed a Senate bill that seeks to include substance abuse education in the K-12 program.

Based on his Senate Bill No. 228, substance abuse prevention education should be included from 4th Grade to the 12th Grade. This aims to equip students with sufficient knowledge and information about the dangers of substance abuse.

“The youth, once involved in drug abuse will likely have academic, relationship and health problems. This leads to lower grades, dropping out from schools and having damaged physical, cognitive and emotional development,” he said.

Based on the data of the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are 4.8 million Filipinos aged 10 to 69 who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives.

The youngest drug surrenderer and youngest recorded minor rescued for substance abuse were seven-year-olds. —AAC

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3 years after PH arbitral win vs. China: Duterte admin did nothing to enforce it —Carpio

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – July 12, 2019, marks the third anniversary of the Philippine’s arbitral win against China’s historical claims on the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling thus invalidated China’s so-called ‘Nine-Dash Line’ – the undefined demarcation line that encircles as much as 90 percent of the disputed waters in the area.

The Duterte administration downplayed the victory in hopes of building stronger ties with China and preferred to offer diplomacy rather than further escalating the tension by sending military troops to the disputed waters, even amid reports of harassment against Filipino fishermen and the Chinese destroying and exploiting the Philippines’ marine resources.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal expressed deep concern on the continuous deterioration and massive destruction of the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has to stop and we have to get serious,” the Director of the University of the Philippines Institute of Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea appealed.

“And we’re not talking about going to war. We’re talking about simple things like stopping the destruction of a common pool resource that would benefit us all,” he added.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, acknowledge that war is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row as the Constitution forbids.

But Carpio blamed the Duterte administration’s inaction, accusing it of using such provision of the law to instill fear among Filipinos as if the Philippines has no other option but to obey with what China offers.

“This administration has done nothing whatsoever to enforce the arbitral award,” Carpio said.

 “I don’t see positive in the enforcement of the award,” he added.

The magistrate appealed to President Duterte not to formalize his verbal agreement with China’s Xi Jinping in his upcoming state of the nation address (SONA) that allows Chinese fishermen to fish within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country in the WPS.

Carpio said, once Duterte formalizes the agreement, the Philippines would be bound and that would weaken the Arbitral ruling.

“If the President will confirm it in his SONA, I mean, we cannot get out of that anymore. So, we’re bound by that, we have to honor that. So, that means China can fish in an area 59 times larger than Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio argued.

Malacañang stressed that the President considers his agreement with Xi as legally binding, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. insisted that it cannot be executed because there is no written document to attest the deal.

For her part, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said the issue will still depend on how the President delivers the matter during his SONA.

She calls on Filipinos to stand for the country’s rights no matter what happens.

“Let us not be scared by all the propaganda that we hear. Because if we do, walang mangyayari (nothing will happen),” Morales said.

“Be brave,” she concluded. – with details from Harlene Delgado

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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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