SGMA confident Duterte will sign 2019 budget soon

Robie de Guzman   •   April 4, 2019   •   1781

File Photo: House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte | Courtesy: PCOO

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has expressed confidence that President Rodrigo Duterte will soon sign the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget.

Arroyo, in an ambush interview on Wednesday, said Malacañang has already given a date of signing but she did not specify when.

Arroyo said the budget proposal could be signed when Duterte has completed the line-item vetoes.

“Every year, the President does line-item vetoes. So they’re just working now I think on what will be the line item vetoes. But there’s already a date for us to go to Malacañang,” she said.

Arroyo, however, did not provide any detail on which portions of the General Appropriations Bills could be vetoed by the President.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III signed the enrolled copy of the proposed budget on March 26 but with strong reservations. He maintained that the P75-billion worth of projects under the local infrastructure program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) funded through the “internal realignments” were “unconstitutional.”

Sotto alleged that the alignments were done by the Lower House after the bill was ratified on February 8.

READ: Sotto signs proposed P3.7-T 2019 national budget “with strong reservations”

But House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. insisted that the realignments were not made post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report. He also stressed that the realignments “did not exceed the approved expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.”

READ: Senate, House to thresh out rift on 2019 budget

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier alleged that the House leadership realigned around P95 billion from the P3.757-trillion budget which was purportedly given to several members of the House.

Meanwhile, the DPWH hopes the budget will soon be signed to prevent any further delays in the implementation of the government’s infrastructure projects. – Robie de Guzman

Duterte warns against online scammers

Marje Pelayo   •   June 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the public against online scammers at this time of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The President, in particular, mentioned those who are using social media and other Internet websites to sell face masks.

“Be careful. Lokohan ito ngayon [Scams are rampant nowadays],” he said.

“Huwag kayong bumili ng online-online lalo na magpadala kayo ng pera[Do not buy online when you are asked to send money]. Do not fall for that thing. It has never been perfected and all the scams that man could think of that they can perpetrate on the innocent public, pinag-aaralan nila yan [they plan for it],” he added.

The demand for face masks is high at present as wearing it has become mandatory when going outdoors as protection against COVID-19 infection. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Senate OKs bill giving Duterte power to delay class opening during public crisis

Robie de Guzman   •   June 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte ‘flexibility’ to schedule the opening of classes in schools during a state of emergency.

Voting 23-0, senators on Monday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1541, which proposes to amend Section 3 of the Republic Act 7797, a law which sets the opening of school-year as early as the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August.

The measure covers all basic education schools, including foreign or international schools in the country.

Once enacted into law, the bill would authorize the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of the Department of Education, to set the opening of classes nationwide or in selected areas at any date during a state of emergency or calamity.

A similar measure has been approved in the committee level in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The approval of the proposed measure comes amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected millions of people worldwide. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.


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