Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress
Maris Federez • July 10, 2019 • 874
Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.
This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.
Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.
Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”
“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.
Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.
“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.
Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.
“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.
“It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.
He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”
Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.
“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.
The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.
It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf
Senator Joel Villanueva said there is a need for a grassroots approach in order to develop Filipino athletes.
In a statement, the senator said the lack of organization at the grassroots level prevents our national sports associations from getting the athletes who can be trained to compete in the long term.
“Talent is scattered everywhere in our 7,000 islands, and it is up to us in government to be able to find these people and cultivate their skills so they can carry on with our quest to deliver the country’s first Olympic gold in over 90 years since we first competed in the Games,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva made the statement after the recent wins of gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Villanueva and other senators continue to push for the proposed bill that will create the Philippine High School for Sports. It is an institution that will raise the quality of our young athletes which will make them competitive in the world stage.
“We will see to it that the proposed measure will live up to the dreams of our young athletes of having a specialized school that trains our future champions,” according to Villanueva.—AAC
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) awaits the recommendation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on whether or not to accept under witness protection program (WPP) two of the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials involved in the Good Conduct Time Allowance controversy or the ‘GCTA for sale.’
The controversy placed the two BuCor officials, Senior Inspector Maria Belinda ‘Mabel’ Bansil and Officer 3 Veronica ‘Boday’ Buño, in hot water after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) revealed the result of its forensic examination on Buño’s cellular phone.
The two were accused of offering ‘GCTA for sale’ to relatives of inmates in exchange for their early release from jail.
Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard Gordon offered Bansil and Buño to subject themselves under WPP but Buño insisted that she didn’t have any personal knowledge about the controversy.
“Wala po talaga akong personal knowledge (I have no personal knowledge),” Buño said.
“Pero iyong mga information po ay napi-feed naman po kahit buong Bureau of Corrections ay alam (But all information was fed and known to the entire Bureau of Corrections),” she added.
The Senate wants to delve deeper into the matter particularly to confirm the alleged deleted exchange of text messages between Bansil and Buño which mentioned names of other BuCor officials including Faeldon and some amount related to the GCTA.
Unless the two disclose their knowledge about the alleged ‘GCTA for sale,’ they will remain under the custody of the Senate after the body cited them in contempt.
Gordon gave Bansil and Buño two to three days to speak on what they know about the matter.
Only then will the Senate hold an executive session to discuss whether or not they will recommend the two to be placed under WPP.
According to the provision of the Law, a person under WPP is entitled to the following:
1. Security protection and escort services;
2. Immunity from criminal prosecution and not to be subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for any transaction, matter or thing concerning his compelled testimony or books, documents or writings produced;
3. A secured housing facility;
4. Assistance in obtaining a means of livelihood;
5. Reasonable traveling expenses and subsistence allowance while acting as a witness;
6. Free medical treatment, hospitalization, and medicine for any injury or illness incurred or suffered while acting as a witness;
7. Burial benefits of not less than Ten Thousand pesos (P10,000.00) if the witness is killed because of his participation in the Program;
8. Free education from primary to college level for the minor or dependent children of a witness who dies or is permanently incapacitated; and,
9. Non-removal or demotion in work because of absences due to his being a witness and payment of full salary or wage while acting as a witness.
These benefits are way more than what the Senate can provide which is limited only to security details and free meals.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said they have not received any sign from the camps of Bansil and Buñoon whether they will accept the government’s offer of protection. – MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
Around 5,200 inmates in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) die every year due to overcrowding, according to NBP Hospital Director Ernesto Tamayo on Thursday (October 3).
During the Senate hearing on the irregularity in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Tamayo said that it constitutes 20% of the total population at the NBP.
He added that pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) is the most common health issue among inmates.
“Because of the overcrowding sir minsan, hindi natin ma-contain iyong PTB (Sometimes we cannot contain the PTB),” he said.
According to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde, there are also other facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) that are overcrowded.
“Dahil overcrowded ito since the war on drugs noon. Doon sa NCRPO talagang massive. Instead of 60 iyong dapat sa loob umaabot po ng 200 kaya marami po ang namamatay (It has been overcrowded since the launch of the war on drugs. The [crowd] is really massive at the NCRPO. Instead of around 60inmates, it is accommodating 200 inmates, that is why a lot are dying),” according to Albayalde.
A Bilibid inmate, Godfrey Gamboa, has revealed in the Senate that some inmates have died due to eating spoiled food.
“Marami po, puro panis ang pagkain (Most of the food are already spoiled),” Gamboa said.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros recommended to the Senate Committee the revocation of NBP Medical Officer Dr. Ursicio Cenas’ license due to his alleged involvement in the ‘hospital pass for sale’ anomaly.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
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