Senate panel to begin probe on alleged ‘red-tagging’ activities of military officials

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2020   •   351

The Senate panel will begin its inquiry next week (November 3) on the alleged ‘red-tagging’ activities of military officials.

Senator Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Resolution No. 559 and will summon Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

Parlade drew the ire of netizens after he warned actress Liza Soberano and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, against associating with the Gabriela Women’s Party-list, which he accused of having links with the New People’s Army.

Lacson said the resolution aims to resolve issues as well as draft guidelines to avoid misunderstandings between the military and the public.

The Senator will be inviting other officials from the Department of National Defense and the AFP.  

He added that the Gabriela Women’s Party-list and other militant groups will also be invited to the inquiry.

“We will also invite Gabriela and other militant groups para maliwanagan natin saan ba nag-uugat iyong misunderstanding at saka iyong conflict pagdating sa red-tagging, red-baiting, (to shed light on the root of the misunderstanding and the conflict when it comes to red-tagging, red-baiting)” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado).

Senate to probe massive flooding in Luzon after recent typhoons

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A resolution that seeks to probe the “confluence of factors” that led to the massive flooding in Luzon after the recent typhoons has been filed in the Senate.

Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., the author of the resolution, said the release of water from dams due to overcapacity should have been anticipated and measures should have been done in order to prevent the released water from reaching the homes of the citizens.

“We must anticipate that the dams will release water, so dapat may mga naka in-place na infrastruktura tulad ng dadaluyan ng tubig at sasalo nito, para huwag rumagasa at manalanta ng mga kabahayan, (there should have been infrastructures in-place which can direct the waterflow away from residential areas),” he said.

In a span of three weeks, five typhoons entered the Philippines which has greatly affected low-lying areas in Luzon. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) reported Typhoon Ulysses has displaced a total of 1,755,224 persons which is an equivalent of 428,657 families in 4,543 barangays in the affected areas.

Revilla hopes to aid in the legislation of necessary actions to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future. AAC

Senate OKs on final reading bill hiking teaching allowance to P10k

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to institutionalize and increase the teaching supplies allowance for public school teachers.

Voting 20-0, the Senate gave its nod to pass the Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1902 or the Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2020 which proposes to hike the teaching allowance of public school teachers up to P10,000 starting next year.

The measure is a substitute for SBN 42 introduced by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, SBN 75 by Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., and SBN 957 by Senator Sonny Angara.

Under the proposal, each classroom teacher will receive P5,000 for the school years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

The allowance will further increase to P7,500 for the school year 2023-2024; and P10,000 for the school year 2024-2025 onwards.

Senators earlier agreed to “progressively” increase the teaching allowance starting 2021 so that the state’s coffers could bear the additional cost.

Revilla stressed that the government “could not afford a drastic increase given the present situation.”

To make the measure responsive to the needs of the teachers, the bill mandates the Department of Education (DepEd) to conduct a periodic review and recommend the necessary increase based on the current prices of the materials.

The bill also provides that the amount necessary for the grant of teaching supplies allowance per teacher shall be charged against the appropriations of the DepEd under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Revilla expressed hope that the Lower House adopts the Senate version and that the President immediately signs the same despite uncertainties of its funding because of the pandemic.

Sotto sees 2021 National Budget ready before the year ends

Marje Pelayo   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III is confident that the 2021 National Budget will be ready for the signing of President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the year.

Sotto thanked House Speaker Allan Velasco for submitting the proposed budget earlier than the expected of October 28.

This will give the Senate subcommittees time to complete their reports before they submit to the Senate Committee on Finance.

On November 10, Senator Sonny Angara is expected to sponsor the bill to the plenary.

Senators will then bring the budget bill under a period of interpellations from November 11 to 17 followed by the period of amendments on November 24.

Sotto expects that there will be no problems in the bicameral conference and the bicam report will be approved by December 8.

The Senate expects the President to sign the bill on December 25.

“We still have to work overtime,” Sotto said, considering the number of agencies and sub agencies that they have to deliberate on.

“We will probably end up everyday around 12 midnight or 1:00 AM para lang matapos namin ang [just to finish the] period of interpellations by the 17th,” he added.

One agency that they intend to scrutinize well is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) particularly the issue on alleged lump sums and and big budget allocations to selected local government projects.

He stressed that deliberations will not be affected even if Senator Cynthia Villar has to face her son DPWH Secretary Mark Villar in the deliberations.

“We will not soft-pedal on DPWH. Knowing Cynthia (Villar), hinahayaan lang naman niya [she just let everything flow]. I’ve seen it in the past. Ang daming interpellations sa DPWH hindi naman siya nang-aawat [Many times DPWH entered into interpellations she never interrupted]. It’s alright,” he said. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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