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Senate recommends crackdown on foreign illegal workers

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Senate has launched an investigation into the alleged growing number of illegal foreign workers in the country.

The Senate, in particular, is concerned about the growing number Chinese workers employed locally without proper documents especially in the National Capital Region (NCR) wherein their number has already reached up to around 200,000.

“Kapag umikot ka po dito sa NCR dun po sa BGC, sa eastwood, kung saan, tingin ko hindi lang 200,000,” observed Senator Joel Villanueva.

The senators are questioning the actions being taken by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in monitoring the activities of foreign workers especially those working illegally across the country.

The DOLE is the only agency that issues alien employment permit to foreigners applying for working visa at the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

According to the Senate, the DOLE should carefully screen all applications for special working permits especially those whose permits have already expired and are already overstaying.

“The policy issue I think, if they are still here beyond 6 months,” said DOLE Usec. Ciriaco Lagunzad.

The BI reports that there are around 119,000 foreigners already issued with special work permits. The agency admits that most of these numbers are Chinese nationals.

“Most of them are Chinese and they are work for POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators),” confirmed Atty. Homer Arellano, Chief for Prosecution and Legal Assistance, BI.

The lawmakers also are looking into the scheme of illegal workers where they use a tourist visa to enter the country then find a job afterwards.

Based on BI’s records, there are around 1.6M people were granted Chinese Tourist visa for this year.

Senator Grace Poe said her colleagues in the Senate all agree on a crackdown against illegal Chinese and other foreign workers.

“Kailagan talaga magkaroon ng crackdown. Sinabi nga ng commitee na ito na proactively… puntahan itong mga sites na ito, hingan sila talaga ng work permit kasi national security issue rin yan,” Poe said.

The BI admits they are lacking in personnel who will do the inspection. Overall, BI only has 80 inspectors deployed across the country.

The DOLE said such matter should be among the priority of the government next year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

 

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How the ‘Super Majority’ can affect passage of proposed bills

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Having proposed bills approved in Congress is and has always been a numbers game.

Majority votes by members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are always needed for a bill to pass and get enacted.

But just how long does it take to have a bill approved in Congress?

There are 12 steps to take to get thru the legislative process.

  1. Preparation of the Bill
  2. First Reading
  3. Committee Consideration / Action
  4. Second Reading
  5. Third Reading
  6. Transmittal of the Approved Bill to the Senate / House
  7. Senate /House action on the approved Bill
  8. Conference Committee
  9. Transmittal of the Bills to the President
  10. Presidential Action of the Bill
  11. Action on Approved Bill
  12. Action on Vetoed Bill

For a bill that is not so urgent, it usually takes one and a half to two years before it gets approved in Congress, especially when there is no one is opposed to it.

The annual proposed budget, on the other hand, has a prescribed time frame of six months for it to get thru the process and get approved.

The President, however, always has the power to expedite the process by having a bill certified as urgent.

Just like what then-President Benigno Aquino III did when he certified the postponement of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections as urgent in the 16th Congress.

It only took less than one month from the time it was filed until President Aquino signed the law.

On the other hand, some proposed laws do have early demise in Congress.

Two versions of the Anti-Political Dynasty bill could hardly get to move from the committee level.

With the opening of the 18th Congress with its new composition, the Super Majority composed of presidential allies is deemed to get even stronger.

Is this a prelude to a speedier passage of bills that are within the agenda of the administration?

For political analyst Ramon Casiple, this will make things easier for the government, pointing out that this has already happened even at the start of the Duterte administration with the Super Majority in the lower house.

Making things comfortable for the administration was the fact that the President’s allies have also dominated the Senate.

However, with all these things, one bill is still pending in both houses of Congress – the bill that seeks the changing of the form of government to Federalism.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubirri, nevertheless, assured that the Super Majority is not going to be a big issue in the Senate, so as not to affect the sensitive bill.

“The Senate is not just a working Senate but a thinking Senate, we need to have long hard discussions on this issues, hindi lang basta basta hook, line and sinker, ipapasa natin ang mga measures na itong mga measures na ito, dahil malaking implications, kung magkamali tayo sa Federalism, it can cause the bankruptcy of our country,” Zubirri said. (with reports from Nel Manibojoc) /mbmf

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Outgoing senators reveal plans after Senate

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Upper row: (L-R ) Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Escudero Lower row: (L-R) Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – Six senators of the 17th Congress are soon to leave the Senate.

Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV have until June 30 to serve their last term.

Senators Bam Aquino and Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, needed to leave following their defeat in the 2019 midterm polls.

Escudero may be leaving the Senate but he remains in public office after winning as governor of Sorsogon.

Legarda, likewise, is shifting to local governance after being proclaimed as the new representative of Antique.

For his part, Honasan said he is still hoping for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of him as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It’s up in the air. That will be decided after June 30 by the appointing authority,” Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senators Aquino and Ejercito said that their next plan to enjoy their private lives with their respective families.

“Ngayon ang ating destiny ay maiba hindi man magpatuloy dito. I guess na mahalaga right now just to take steps back. Spend more time with your kids and try to determine how to help the country in other ways,” Aquino said.

“Maraming paraan para tumulong sa ating bayan,” he added.

“Tulungan ko muna ang wife ko sa mga businesses naming,” Ejercito said when asked about his plans following his exit from Senate.

He admitted, however, that he regretted the outcome of running against his brother Jinggoy Estrada.

“Ang regrets ko…ang pinakamabigat kong problema yung dalawa kaming magkapatid na tumakbo,” Ejercito said.

“Sana kinausap ko na lang. Nag-usap kami ng father ko, ng pamilya na nasabi ko na sana ang aking concern. Ilang beses ko sinabi na ito ang mangyayari na pwede kaming mahila lahat pababa. Exactly ito  na nga ang nangyari,” he added.

Trillanes, meanwhile, said he is thinking of going back to school.

The controversial senator earlier said he will remain critical of the Duterte administration even outside of Senate. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Attention space geeks: Senate OKs bill creating the Philippine Space Agency

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Courtesy : Pexels

The senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish a Philippine Space Agency.

On Monday (May 20), the Senate voted 18-0 in favor of Senate Bill No. 1983 or an Act Establishing the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and Creating the Philippine Space Agency.

The bill was introduced by Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, and Sonny Angara.

According to Senator Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, the bill aims to improve disaster management as well as enhance production and profitability of agribusinesses.

“Satellites can improve disaster management from providing accurate information that allows early warnings and predicting of disasters to reliable and quick communication during relief and recovery operations,” Aquino said in his sponsorship speech.

Once the law is passed, the new agency will have an initial funding of P1 billion for the space program from the current fiscal year’s appropriation of the Office of the President.

“An additional P10 billion will come from the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for five years after the effectivity of the act, with P2 billion to be released to PhilSA yearly,” the statement said.

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