Senators shine at UNTV Cup off season games

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2017   •   5435

MANILA — The Senate Sentinels vow to intensify their plays against the BOC Transformers on June 11, and expressed their support to Kuya Daniel’s innovative basketball league.

Senators Sonny Angara and Joel Villanueva lead the Sentinels’ roster.

“Salamat sa lahat ng sumusubaybay sa UNTV, sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa Senate Sentinels. Mabuhay po kayo, God bless,” Sen. Angara said. (Thanks to all the audience of UNTV and to all the supporters of Senate Sentinels. Long live, God Bless!)

Sen. Joel Villanueva, “We gonna have fun so, kudos to UNTV for having this special league, talagang saludo kami [we salute you].”

The Senators team showed last week that they can go against other teams in the UNTV Cup Executive Face Off.

They even gave the DOJ Justice Boosters its first loss on June 4 with final scores 84-77.

Sen. Angara added, “Nagkataon sa mga nakaraang game kulang tayo ng tao, eh. Ngayon, medyo kumpleto, tamang tama hindi masyado na pagod. Kasi last two game kinapos kami sa last quarter. So ito, medyo may gasoline pa kumbaga.” (It so happened that in the previous games we were short on players. But now we’re almost complete, it’s not too tiring anymore.  In the last two games, we lost steam at the last quarter. This time we have enough gasoline, so to speak.)

Sen. Joel Villanueva commended, “Great addition si Senator Angara dahil may isa pa na pwedeng magdalangbola, isang leader na kahit wala sa stats yung makikita mo sa kaniya, he gives so much sa team.” (Sen. Angara is a great addition, because there will be another one who can bring the ball (play point guard). He  is a leader who, even though you can’t see it on the stats sheet, he gives so much for the team.)

On the other hand, the Transformers, led by the BOC Chief, Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, expressed their commitment to the league despite their standing, in the name of public service.

“We’re not here just to win but to have some fun saka to support the league, the [UNTV] Cup. Serbisyong bayan ‘to so napakaganda. So kahit alam naman namin na from the start, wala naman talaga kami pool ng players but we still fill in our players para masaya.”

(We are not here just to win but to have some fun and to support the league, the UNTV Cup, the league of public servants. This is public service so it’s awesome. So even though we knew from the start that we don’t have a competitive pool of players we still fill in our team line up to enjoy the league.) — Bernard Dadis | UNTV News & Rescue

Senator wants gov’t to appoint disaster czar amid Taal eruption relief works

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker is urging the government to appoint a disaster czar who will oversee the relief efforts in the province of Batangas for residents displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

Senator Joel Villanueva made the suggestion following reports that relief goods such as food and hygiene packs, among others, were unevenly distributed in various evacuation centers.

“Some evacuation centers have more than other places. If people are expected to stay longer in these evacuation centers, we must be able to manage our available resources well so we can cover the basic needs of our evacuees,” Villanueva said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“For instance, we’ve observed that there’s a lack of portalets to maintain the sanitation around evacuation centers. We need a manager to assess the needs and look after the delivery of relief across affected areas,” he added.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate labor committee, also suggested to device ways of spurring economic activity in areas affected by the Taal unrest.

He said that one way to jumpstart the local economy is to generate short-term employment to evacuees at shelters.

“If you’re sending relief to certain evacuation centers, why not hire someone there to take charge in the cooking of food for the people there? Or maintain the place for that matter?” Villanueva said.

“We should strive to help our people displaced by the eruption of Taal get back on their feet through employment and livelihood,” he added.

Villanueva also called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to fast-track its emergency employment programs to support evacuees while waiting out for the crisis to end.

The lawmaker noted that under the 2020 national budget, the labor department’s programs for emergency employment received a total allocation of P6.8 billion.

He also urged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide assistance in the form of scholarships for evacuees who have lost everything when they were displaced.

The bulk of Tesda’s P12.975-billion budget for 2020 funds the various scholarship programs it offers, the senator explained.

Villanueva also said that the disaster czar could also fill in the requirement in the meantime as Congress deliberates on proposals to create a department specifically handling the government’s disaster relief efforts and resilience programs.

PH gov’t should make deployment ban to Kuwait permanent if no assurance of OFW safety – Villanueva

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday said the government should consider a permanent deployment ban to Kuwait if authorities in the oil-rich country fail to guarantee the security and security of Filipino workers there.

In a statement, Villanueva said the welfare of Filipino workers abroad is a “paramount concern” for the government and that this should be recognized by the countries that the Philippines signed bilateral agreements with.

“We have already seen one OFW death in Kuwait too many. If we cannot get safety and security guarantees for our OFWs in Kuwait, a most basic and reasonable demand in our view, perhaps our government should make the ban permanent,” he said following the death Jeanelyn Villavende allegedly in the hands of her Kuwaiti employer.

“The welfare of our OFWs, particularly their safety and security in their places of work, is a paramount concern for our government, and our partners should recognize this especially the ones we signed bilateral agreements with,” he added.

In 2018, the Philippines and Kuwait signed a labor pact seeking to protect Filipino workers from abuses. This was after the Philippines implemented a deployment ban following the killing of Joanna Demafelis.

Demafelis’ remains were discovered inside a freezer where she was believed to have been kept for more than a year. She was reported missing in 2016.

Her employers, believed to have fled Kuwait a year before her frozen body was found, were later arrested in Syria and convicted for murder charges.

The fresh deployment ban to Kuwait was set off by the killing of another Filipino worker, allegedly beaten to death by her female employer.

“We support this move by [Labor] Secretary [Silvestre] Bello III. While it limits the opportunities available to Filipino workers, it is also necessary to limit their exposure to risks and abuses,” Villanueva said.

“This policy also expresses our government’s outrage over the death of our compatriot who was allegedly killed by her employer’s wife,” he added.

The lawmaker also called on the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to ensure available jobs and training opportunities for workers affected by the ban.

“In the long term, we should exert all efforts to create more job opportunities locally so that our kababayans do not need to go abroad and leave their families to find well-paying jobs,” he added.

Senate tackles bill seeking to expand legal aid for distressed OFWs

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has started deliberations into the proposed measure which seeks to expand the use of a fund meant to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW) facing legal actions in their places of work abroad.

Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday urged the Senate to approve Senate Bill No. 1233, after the committees on labor and foreign relations, signed the report reconciling the proposals filed by Senators Nancy Binay and Ronald dela Rosa.

In his sponsorship speech at the plenary, Villanueva explained the necessity of instituting amendments on the use of the legal assistance fund (LAF), saying the proposed measure would “ultimately benefit more OFWs in distress” should it pass in the upper chamber.

The legal assistance fund is being utilized by the government to cover various costs of OFWs embroiled in legal actions abroad.

“Full protection of labor more significantly implies a continuing positive duty on the part of the State to ensure that the rights of its workers are at all times protected and their welfare promoted and improved at every chance possible,” said Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development.

The bill seeks to amend the provisions on the LAF in Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers’ Law to expand its coverage to include the payment of bail bonds required by foreign courts, tribunals or other agencies.

The measure also proposes to amend the granting of authority to foreign posts to use the fund to engage the services of paralegals familiar with the country’s culture “to provide immediate basic assistance and legal aid to distressed overseas Filipinos.”

Its aim is to advance and improve not only the quality but also the promptness of the delivery of these services to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, according to Villanueva.

The measure also mandates the availability of the fund at all times for the use of distressed OFWs and Filipinos abroad.

“It further clarifies that such assistance shall be given from the moment the case is initiated, or the proceeding is commenced, until its termination, promulgation, and execution,” Gatchalian said.

“This assistance extends further to all appeals taken on these cases, thereby guaranteeing full and complete support to distressed Filipinos overseas,” he added.

The bill also seeks to allow the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to delegate the authority to the head of Post to approve an expenditure chargeable to the LAF, subject to existing rules and regulations of the Commission on Audit.

Villanueva said that under the current system, heads of Posts seek approval from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila before the fund may be available to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress.

This, according to the senator, results in delays in providing immediate legal assistance to distressed Filipinos.

“We urge our esteemed colleagues to rally behind this noble effort to further strengthen the protection afforded by the State to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos. The risks and vulnerabilities suffered by our countrymen overseas cannot be overemphasized,” Villanueva said.

Citing government data, Gatchalian said there are about 8.9 million Filipinos abroad as of June 2019, 3.5 million of which are OFWs.

As of August 31, 2019, some 4,116 have already benefited from the legal assistance fund, data from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed.

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