Senate minority to push for suspension of excise tax

Marje Pelayo   •   October 10, 2018   •   3137

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

Senate OKs Malasakit Center bill on final reading

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to institutionalize the establishment of Malasakit Centers in hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) across the country.

The Senate Bill No. 1076 or the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 was approved with 18 affirmative and zero negative votes.

The measure seeks the establishment of one-stop-shop centers for medical and financial assistance provided by the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in all 73 DOH-run hospitals nationwide.

“We are a step closer towards making quality health care more accessible and affordable for all Filipinos, especially the indigent and poor patients in need of medical assistance from the government,” Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the author and sponsor of the bill, said in a speech after the bill was passed.

Citing a 2017 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Go said that out-of-pocket payment accounted for 55 percent of health expenditures despite benefits provided by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“To clarify, we are not providing additional funds for assistance, we are merely establishing a one-stop-shop for medical and financial assistance,” he further stated, adding that there are currently 50 Malasakit Centers nationwide serving 160,000 patients.

Under the bill, hospitals run by local government units (LGUs) and other public hospitals may also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided that they guarantee the availability of funds for the operation of their centers including its maintenance, personnel, staff training, among others.

Patients who would be admitted to LGU and other public hospitals but are eligible for medical and financial assistance could also seek assistance from the Malasakit Centers.

Among the functions of the Malasakit Centers would be to provide patients with a referral to the health care provider networks as well as information on membership, coverage and benefits packages in the National Health Insurance Program.

The bill hurdled the Senate after it adopted amendments introduced by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Franklin Drilon.

Hontiveros said that Malasakit Centers should provide “critical information on healthy behaviors and conduct health promotion activities in the hospital” as well as “further enhance the health promotion function of the center.”

Drilon, meanwhile, said the measure should not limit the “access to or availability of medical and financial assistance only to indigent and financially incapacitated patients referred through Malasakit Centers.”

Senators, colleagues pay tribute to Nene Pimentel

Robie de Guzman   •   October 23, 2019

Senate President Vicente Tito Sotto III, presents Senate Resolution 17, expressing the Senate’s sympathy and condolences to Mrs. Bing Pimentel, wife of former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., during the necrological service Wednesday. With them are Sen. Pia Cayetano, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Koko Pimentel, his wife Kathryna, and sister Gwen Pimentel.  (SENATE PRIB/CESAR TOMAMBO)

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. was honored by friends and colleagues at the Senate during a necrological service held on Wednesday.

In separate eulogies, they remembered Pimentel as a humble and patient mentor, who took time to enlighten the Senate staff on various issues; a principled statesman, and a firm democratic fighter.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that with Pimentel’s life, he realized that one can enter and leave politics with integrity intact.

“Puwede naman palang pumasok sa politika at mamaalam nang marangal pa rin. Paalam po,” Sotto said in his eulogy after he presented Senate Resolution No. 17 to the Pimentel family, expressing the chamber’s sympathy and condolence on the death of the former lawmaker.

He also said that Pimentel served as his mentor and was always accommodating whenever his counsel was needed.

Sotto also attributed Pimentel’s “familiarity in servicing his colleagues in the Senate to the experience of working with a number of models and icons in public service where he was a top mentor.”

“His humility, simplicity in style and decorum make us all proud that we were his friends. He will be greatly missed. He had been a leading light of this Chamber, not only in good times but also during trials and darkest moments,” Sotto said.

“On behalf of the Philippine Senate, the Sotto family and the Filipino people, may I extend to the bereaved family of Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. our heartfelt condolences. May you be comforted that Nene is dearly loved by one and all in this nation,” he added.

Senator Pia Cayetano also considered Pimentel as a father figure and a mentor.

“Tito Nene did grand things, there is no doubt of that. But for me and those who knew him well, we remember him for the small things. For what is greatness without kindness? Without humility and compassion? Traits I saw in my mentor and seatmate. Beyond the brilliant legislator and defender of democracy that he was, I got to know a kind and gentle person,” Cayetano said in her eulogy.

Former Sen. Orlando Mercado also considered Pimentel as his mentor and remembered that he was the first to call for a total log ban. He said he learned the importance of humility from Pimentel and admired him for his sense of justice, especially for the disadvantaged.

Former Senator Jose Lina, Jr. said that more than his grief for losing a father, a teacher and a friend comes the realization that the country has lost “a great Filipino and statesman who championed freedom, human rights and the pursuit of excellence in local governance.”

Former Senator Rene Saguisag recalled his time with Pimentel when they both fought for democracy and a better government, while former Senator Heherson Alvarez said that Pimentel will remain in the country’s history as an indomitable comrade in the struggle against dictatorship.

“Nene Pimentel was a happy warrior. He lived long enough to nurture our civil liberties that he fought for and which he had been jailed. He will remain in our history as an indomitable comrade in the struggle against the dictatorship and a champion of good local governance,” Alvarez said.

Former Senator Nikki Coseteng said Pimentel embodied the values of a nationalist and a warrior, adding that she was proud to have known him.

Senator Koko Pimentel III, who was visibly moved by the stories about his father, thanked colleagues, friends, and the Filipino people for their outpouring love for the elder Pimentel.

“Thank you for helping him achieve his vision and goals as a legislator. Because of your support, he has left landmark legacies such as the Local Government Code and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines, among others,” Koko said in his response to the eulogies.

“Public service was his passion, working on landmark legacies fulfilled him and made him happy. Thank you for working with him to realize his dream of a fairer, democratic and productive Philippines,” he added.

Pimentel passed away on Oct. 20 after battling with lymphoma. He was 85 years old.

After the necrological service at the Senate, his remains will be brought to his hometown in Cagayan de Oro City for public viewing until Oct. 25.

Details of the interment will be announced later by the family. – RRD (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Senate to pay tribute to Nene Pimentel on Wednesday

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will pay tribute to former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel in a necrological service scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, together with current and former senators, Senate Secretary Myra Villarica, Sergeant-At-Arms Rene Samonte, secretariat officials, and employees will receive the remains of Pimentel at the foyer of the main entrance of the Senate building and escort him to the Senate Session Hall.

Sotto, Senator Pia Cayetano as well as former senators Heherson Alvarez, Anna Dominique Coseteng, Jose Lina Jr., will deliver eulogies for the late senator.

A resolution will also be presented to Pimentel’s family, expressing the Senate’s sympathy and condolence over Pimentel’s passing.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is expected to accept the resolution and give his response to the eulogy.

A public viewing will follow the service.

Nene Pimentel, 85, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 20 after he succumbed to lymphoma, a form of cancer.

Pimentel is considered as one of the finest politicians and statesmen in Philippine history.

He was one of the leading opposition leaders during the Marcos administration and was called Don Quixote de Pimentel by his detractors for his courageous but lonely battle against corruption in government, electoral fraud and even foreign imperialism.

In 1982, he co-founded the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

He was Senator from 1987 to 1992 and again from 1998 to 2010.

He served as Senate President from 2000 to 2001, and as Senate Minority Leader from 2001 to 2002, and 2004 to 2010.

During his time in the Senate, he authored and sponsored several key pieces of legislation such as the Local Government Code of 1991, the Cooperative Code, the Philippine Sports Commission Act, the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act and the Act creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He also authored and co-sponsored the Generic Drugs Act and the Act Establishing the Philippine Police under a Reorganized Department of Interior and Local Government.

Pimentel was also a proponent for federalism in the Philippines.

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