Senators expect intense debate on death penalty bill

Marje Pelayo   •   July 3, 2019   •   1622

FILE PHOTO: Death chamber

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go has filed the proposed death penalty as his first order of business in the Senate.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said, there is a chance for the bill to prosper in the Senate if the provisions cover only high level drug trafficking.

“If confined to high level drug trafficking, it stands a better chance,” Sotto said.

However, Sotto is uncertain if he will be able to convince his colleagues if the proposed penalty would cover the crime of plunder as Go proposed.

There should be a compelling reason to reinstate the death penalty without violating the Constitution.

“Okay sa akin pero I doubt kung ma-convince namin (ang) iba (It’s okay with me but I doubt if I could convince my colleagues) to support more heinous crimes,” he said.

“Remember, the only way is to present a compelling reason in order to reimpose the death penalty. Otherwise it will violate the Constitution,” he added.

Plunder can only be filed against a government official who has amassed public funds worth P50 million and more.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri believes the bill will face intense debate among the senators.

“We have members of the minority for example the Senate minority leader, Senator Franklin Drilon they committed going against this,” he said.

“It will be a good and healthy discussion and we will make sure that it is calendared for plenary debates and eventually we have to put it on a vote,” he added.

Though a member of the minority bloc, Zubiri stands against the death penalty bill. – with reports from Nel Maribojoc

Duterte OKs probe on PH envoy accused of mistreating staff

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to proceed with the investigation into a Philippine envoy’s alleged maltreatment of her service staff in Brazil, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Thursday.

“In light of the gravity of the allegations against the ambassador, the President has given the green light to proceed with the investigation of the official concerned, as recommended by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs,” Go said in a statement.

The DFA earlier said it needed the approval of the president to conduct a probe against Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro who was caught on CCTV maltreating her unidentified Filipina household service staff on several occasions.

Section 51 of the Foreign Service Act states that “Chiefs of Mission who are commissioned by the President as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary shall not be investigated by the Board [of Foreign Service Administration] or separated from the service unless there is an express written directive from the President.”

“The President has always been firm – the protection and promotion of the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas is a paramount responsibility of our government,” Go said.

“Our ambassadors are duty-bound to carry out this mandate, no questions asked,” he added.

Go further stated that the “impartial investigation will be carried out consistent with relevant provisions of the law, particularly the Foreign Service Act of 1991.”

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said a team has been formed to investigate Mauro and the circumstances surrounding the issue.

Mauro has been ordered to return home to face the investigation.

She has yet to issue a statement regarding the allegations.

Bato, Pacquiao support reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 30, 2020

Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Manny Pacquiao reiterated their support for the reimposition of death penalty for heinous crimes.

During Senate’s regular session on Wednesday (July 29), Pacquiao said reinstating death penalty in the country will not be illegal in the eyes of God.

The Senator previously filed a bill that would impose death penalty on heinous crimes which include manufacturing and trafficking dangerous drugs.

Hindi po labag sa mata ng gobyerno, sa mata ng Panginoon. Dahil biblically po, allowed po ang gobyerno (It is not illegal in the eyes of the government, in the eyes of the Lord. Because, biblically, the government is allowed to do so) the authority, which is established by God to impose heinous crimes especially death penalty,” Pacquiao said.

Meanwhile, during his privilege speech, Dela Rosa reiterated that reimposing death penalty would be the solution in stopping drug lords and the continuing drug activities inside detention facilities.

The Senator also noted that crime rate has dropped when death penalty was imposed in 1993. He also said that the drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic which should also be prioritized.

“It is also considered a global pandemic itong drug problem. So, hindi naman siguro ibig sabihin na porke tayo may kinakaharap na global pandemic na COVID-19, hihinto na lang tayo sa paggawa ng ibang batas para sa ibang mga issues na kinakaharap ng ating lipunan (This drug problem is also considered as a global pandemic. Just because we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean we would stop making laws for other issues faced by society),” he said.

Dela Rosa was appointed as a member of a Senate panel under the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian relinquished his seat.

The said Senate panel will vote on bills including the reimposition of death penalty in the country. However, panel chairman Senator Richard Gordon said the bill should be discussed at the proper time.

“I will not sponsor it because I do not believe in it. We will take it up at the proper time,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Go pushes gov’t aid for live events workers amid COVID-19 crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has called on the government to also provide support for displaced workers heavily affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, especially those in industries that cannot resume operations due to social distancing and community quarantine measures.

In a statement in Tuesday, Go said workers engaged in live events, entertainment industry, as well as those engaged in businesses that cannot operate at this time, must be given utmost attention by the government.

“Dahil sa COVID-19, may mga industriya talagang hindi makapag-operate ngayon. Bawal ang pagtitipon kaya tulad nung mga nasa live events organizing, kailangan maghanap ng ibang pagkakakitaan,” he said.

“Bukod pa diyan, ang mga tao sa entertainment industry ay apektado rin po, lalong lalo na ‘yung ordinaryong manggagawa tulad nung parte ng mga production crew bilang halimbawa. Ito po ‘yung mga kababayan nating bumubuhay sa industriya ng sining na ngayon ay hirap makabalik sa kabuhayan nila,” he added.

The live events industry consists of events, like meetings, conferencing, exhibitions, concerts involving international and local artists, theatrical productions, corporate, social, cultural, fashion, sporting, and club events, weddings and family celebrations, trade fairs and exhibits, and on-ground activation and sampling activities.

“Tulungan nating mapagaan ang pinapasan ng mga nasa ganitong uri ng industriya. Wala pong dapat mapabayaan sa panahon ngayon,” Go added.

The senator also expressed hope that once the health situation improves and the spread of COVID-19 is under control, more provinces and cities under modified general community quarantine can provide guidelines for these industries to resume operations in accordance with health protocols.

Go, former long-time aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, also urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Labor and Employment, and other concerned agencies to look into the situation of and provide assistance programs for the displaced workers.

He also suggested events businesses to avail of emergency loans and financing program for micro, small and medium enterprises.

The DTI is presently implementing COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program, which aims to help enterprises stabilize or recover from losses due to the health crisis.

The National Live Events Coalition (NLEC) recently appealed for government assistance for their members, highlighting that the live events industry, comprised of businesses and industry professionals, institutions, agencies, technical and staging providers, concert and festival producers, wedding and social events planners, venues, performers and freelance production workforce, have faced lost opportunities and revenues due to COVID-19.

Live events organizing is a multi-billion industry that provides employment to several thousands. The NLEC said the industry is composed of 30,000 MSMEs.

Some MSMEs related to the industry may have to close down or operate only at 10% capacity.

Although the live events industry is not specified in the latest Senate version of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, Go is urging the administration’s economic managers to look into the matter and explore more opportunities for the government to extend help to this sector in these trying times.

“May mga provisions sa Senate version ng Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) para sa mga subsidies, loan programs at iba pang social assistance na pwedeng makatulong sa mga empleyado ng ganitong industriya,” Go said.

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