Senate OKs bill granting President special powers vs red-tape

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2020   •   1121

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.

Duterte condoles with Aquino family over death of ex-Pres. Noynoy

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has extended his condolences to the family of former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, who passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 61.

“I join the entire nation in mourning the passing of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. I express my deepest sympathies to his siblings, Ballsy, Pinky, Viel, and Kris, as well as to all his loved ones, friends, and supporters, in this period of sadness,” Duterte said in a statement.

“May you take comfort in the knowledge that he is now in a better place with his Creator,” he added.

He also urged everyone to “set aside our differences” and to pay respects to the late leader.

“Let us all take this opportunity to unite in prayer and set aside our differences as we pay respects to a leader who has given his best to serve the Filipino people,” he said.

“His memory and his family’s legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy will forever remain etched in our hearts,” he added.

Malacañang, through Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, earlier expressed gratitude for Aquino’s service to the country and remembered his legacy as a leader.

Roque said Aquino was a “simple public servant elected by people”.

The Palace said that as a former head of state, Aquino may be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, but the decision would depend on his family.

Roque also said he has no information yet on whether or not a state funeral will be held for the late president.

Duterte to meet with lawmakers on Bayanihan laws – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with some lawmakers later Thursday to discuss Bayanihan 2 and the proposed Bayanihan 3 laws.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the meeting will take place after Duterte’s ceremonial signing of several measures at Malacañang.

Roque did not identify the lawmakers who will be meeting with the president but said they are “leading members” of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“I can only confirm that there will be a meeting today to discuss both Bayanihan 2 and Bayanihan 3 with leading members of both houses of Congress,” he said in a Palace briefing.

“This will occur after the ceremonial signing of several bills again and I know they will be discussing Bayanihan2 and 3, beyond that I have no further information,” he added.

Bayanihan Laws seek to help the government address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The validity of the Bayanihan 2 is set to expire on June 30 while the proposed Bayanihan 3 is still being discussed in Congress.

Senate mourns death of ex-Pres. Noynoy Aquino

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Thursday expressed their condolences on the passing of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Aquino passed away this morning for still undisclosed reasons. He was 61.

“No matter what political side you’re on, when a former president passes away, the country mourns,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in a message to reporters.

“His death diminishes us all. Sincerest condolences from the Senate and my family,” he added.

Senator Grace Poe also paid tribute to the late former president.

“Sa nagbukas ng pinto ng serbisyo publiko para sa atin, maraming salamat sa iyong legasiya ng pagsisilbi nang buong katapatan at dedikasyon. Ipinakita sa atin ni PNoy ang kahalagahan ng mabuting kalooban sa isang pinuno: walang pag-iimbot sa kapwa, malinis ang intensyon, at walang pagkagahaman sa kapangyarihan,” Poe said in a statement.

“Pinapahalagahan namin ang iyong matapat na paglilingkod, PNoy,” she added.

Senator Sonny Angara likewise honored Noynoy’s legacy as he expressed his sympathies to the Aquino family.

“Rest well knowing that in time your own legacy will be remembered as it should be, from a perspective that is objective. You have earned your place in the annals of Philippine history. May the Lord bring comfort to PNoy’s siblings and rest of the Aquino clan,” he said.

Senator Manny Pacquiao also remembered Aquino’s programs during his term as president.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Former President Benigno Aquino III. His love for the country was manifested in his term of service where he championed the ‘Daang Matuwid’ and the ‘Kayo ang Boss Ko,’” he said.

“We are sending our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the beloved family of the former president. His legacy will be remembered,” he added.

Senator Joel Villanueva, who served as director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) during the Aquino administration, expressed sadness over the passing of his friend.

“The nation lost a leader, and I, a friend. But he was more than that. He was a mentor, a brother to me,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“If I was Tesdaman, he was the TESDA Godfather. He believed in the great talents of our youth, waiting to be unlocked if given good training, right breaks, and inspiring success stories. By ordering that they be trained, he invested in their dreams,” he said.

Villanueva remembered Aquino as “a simple man, plain Citizen Noy,” after his stint in Malacañang, and “a compassionate tito, never missing the perks and the powers he once wielded.”

“When the passion of the present had died down, a fair assessment of his administration will bear the truth of great achievements, brave decisions and moral leadership,” he said.

“We now commit him to the embrace of our Lord, and his life and works to history’s kind judgement,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who served as Aquino’s rehabilitation czar in areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda, said Noynoy served his country “very well with humility, honor, and integrity.”

“It was indeed a privilege to have served with him – both in the Senate and the Executive Department, but more than that, to be his friend,” Lacson said.

“As our country’s leader, he did not deserve to be unappreciated. He served his country very well with humility, honor and integrity,” he added.  “Even as President, he always managed to promptly respond to my messages, no matter how casual and trivial.”

Prior to winning the presidency, Aquino served in the Senate from 2007 to 2010.

He chaired the Senate Committee on Local Government in the 14th Congress and was also vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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