Senators divided over PH’s possible withdrawal from UN human rights body

Marje Pelayo   •   July 15, 2019   •   898

UNHRC Hall | Courtesy: United Nations Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s tweet about the Philippines’ possible withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) earned mixed reactions from members of the Senate.

In reaction to the issue, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines may face unfavorable consequences in the future with its withdrawal from different UN bodies.

“It may be a matter of time when we will be left to our own devices. We do not know when, but being a developing country, we may need to knock on the doors of the community of nations sooner or later,” Lacson said in statement on Monday (July 15).

For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan believes there will come a time when the Philippines will have to explain the outcome of the government’s drive against illegal drugs.

“We can run but we can’t hide. Sooner or later we will have to explain if not to the international community at the very least to ourselves and our citizens why tens of thousands have been killed,” Pangilinan said.

“Yet the drug menace has become worse while drug syndicates and customs officials behind the smuggling of tons of shabu through the BoC go unpunished,” he added.

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed support to whatever the Foreign Affairs Department proposes best for the country.

“He would be in the best position to assess what is beneficial for our country as far as diplomacy with others is concerned,” Sotto said of Locsin.

Locsin posted the idea on Saturday (July 13) when a netizen inquired about how the Philippine representation in Iceland reacted to the Council’s approval of Iceland’s resolution seeking to probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

The resolution garnered 18 affirmative votes, 14 negative and 15 abstentions. – with details from Nel Maribojoc.

DND wants exemption from ban on loans, grants from countries supporting probe on PH killings

Marje Pelayo   •   September 30, 2019

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) will appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to exempt the agency from the Chief Executive’s suspension of any financial assistance from 18 countries that support the call for a probe into drug-related killings under the administration’s war on drugs.

During the Senate deliberation on the DND’s proposed budget for 2020, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon opened up the said request by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Lorenzana discussed the matter with several senators, specifically the ongoing negotiation with the government of Australia regarding the procurement of patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy amounting to P30-B.

“We are currently in talks with the Australian government for them to build our six offshore patrol vessels and they are willing to finance it first,” he said.

The Defense Secretary said they are planning to send a formal appeal to the President about the matter citing such suspension of loans, aids and grants will hugely affect the ongoing modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said that the President is keen on reviewing the said request of the DND.

Panelo hinted that President Duterte might hear out and approve the request especially as it concerns the country’s national security. – MNP (with details from April Cenedoza)

Bill seeking to penalize children abandoning old, ailing parents filed in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill seeking to penalize children who abandon their old and ailing parents.

In filing Senate Bill No. 29 or the “Parents Welfare Act of 2019 requires children to provide necessary support for the aging, sick and incapacitated parents.

The proposal, which Lacson had first filed in the 17th Congress, seeks to further strengthen filial responsibility and to make it a criminal offense in case of flagrant violation thereof.

The measure states that a parent who is in need of support may file a petition before the court and ask for the issuance of a support order against their children who fail or refuse to provide the necessary assistance.

It added that the Public Attorney’s Office will provide the legal representation of the parent in need of support and that no court fees will be applied.

Lacson proposes in his bill the penalty of imprisonment of one to six months or a fine of P100,000 if the respondent fails to give support for three consecutive months without justifiable cause.

“Whoever, having the care or protection of a parent in need of support, leaves such parent in any place with the intention of wholly abandoning the latter shall be punished with imprisonment of six years to 10 years and a fine of not less than P300,000,” Lacson said in his bill.

The bill also seeks to establish old age homes for the elderly, sick or otherwise incapacitated parents in every province and highly urbanized city.

Lawmaker demands apology from Lacson over pork barrel accusations

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 26, 2019

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro has demanded an apology from Senator Panfilo Lacson for accusing him and other Congressmen of inserting ‘pork barrel’ funds in the 2020 national budget.

During his privilege speech on Wednesday (September 25), Castro said Lacson’s accusations has tainted the reputation of the institution.

“Because of this irresponsible and reckless act that has damaged not only the reputation of this institution but more importantly the reputation and integrity of each and every member of this house especially the newcomers who have come with their idealism in these halls intact,” he said.

The lawmakers added, Lacson has no right to make such accusations since he has not seen the General Appropriation Bill approved by the House of Representatives.

“That makes him more irresponsible. He has not seen a single line of the General Appropriation Bill, he has not studied yet as he claimed the GAB approved by the House,” Castro said.

However, Lacson maintained his stance on the issue and said Castro, along with other Congressmen allegedly involved in the pork barrel insertion, should apologize.

“As for those House members who abused the hard-earned money of taxpayers for the longest time that they availed of ‘pork,’ they are the ones who should apologize to the Filipino people,” Lacson said in a statement.

“The whining and howling of Congressman Castro and his like-minded colleagues will not distract me from performing my mandate of scrutinizing the budget measure,” he added.

On Monday (September 23), Lacson said several House members reported that House Deputy speakers will be getting additional P1.5 billion allocation in the proposed P4.1 trillion 2020 National Budget.

Lacson added that the House will also be getting another P700 million to allot for their pet bills.—AAC

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