Sotto to take a leave after ethics complaint

admin   •   May 11, 2017   •   3063

MANILA — Senator Vicente Sotto III will file an indefinite leave as the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.

Sen. Sotto said this is to show “delicadeza” after facing an ethics complaint on Wednesday.

“It might be another blessing in disguise because then I will automatically inhibit myself, and then I will take leave from the Committee on Ethics,” said Sen. Tito Sotto, Chair, Ethics Committee.

The complaint filed by the leader of women’s group on Wednesday stemmed from the alleged offensive joke on Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, a single parent, when she faced the Commission on Appointments hearing.

“In the street language when you have children and you are single, you were just “na-ano,” said the chairman of the Senate ethics committee.

Senator Sotto publicly apologized. However, this was not acceptable for the complaining group.

“His apology is not a sincere one because his statement included attribution as ‘in the street language’. We do not believe that everyone “in the street” treats women as such,” said Jean Enriquez, Coalition against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific.

Women leaders want to have Sen. Sotto imposed with sanction by the Commission on Appointments.

They also want to have the members of the C.A. who laughed at the joke be reprimanded. The women leaders also appeal to have all senators and their staff undergo a gender sensitivity training.

As the Vice Chairperson of the Committee, Senator Panfilo Lacson is seen to be the one to handle the complaint against Sen. Sotto. Sen. Lacson said he may recommend the complaint to the committee on rules.

“Kailangan pagaralan ang ethics complaint kasi unang una may jurisdiction ba ang Senate ethics sa actuation ng isang senator acting as a CA member dapat tingnan muna iyon,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Ethics. (The ethics complaint must be evaluated because, firstly, does the Senate Ethics Committee have jurisdiction over the actuation of a senator acting as a C.A. Member. It must be evaluated first.)— Joyce Balancio | UNTV News & Rescue

Senators likely to support bill on dissolution of marriage than divorce – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes that senators are more likely to express support for a bill if it is called “dissolution of marriage” than “divorce.”

“Mukhang mas madali. Karamihan sa amin, mas madali kung pag-uusapan namin ay dissolution of marriage,” he told reporters in an interview on Monday.

Sotto issued the comment after Senator Risa Hontiveros vowed to work hard for the passage of the bill. She was also reported to have met with groups advocating for the legalization of divorce proceedings in the country.

Hontiveros, who chairs Senate Committee on Women, has been seeking to make “psychological incapacity of either spouse,” “irreconcilable marital differences,” marital rape, or being “separated for at least 5 years” grounds for divorce, among others.

She said the bill aims to free Filipinos “from abusive, loveless and unhappy marriages.”

“Buo rin ang aking simpatiya at suporta sa ating mga kababayan lalo na yung mga kabaro ko na naipit na sa mga abusive, loveless and unhappy marriages,” she said in an interview.

Since the 18th Congress opened last July 22, at least two divorce bills have been filed including that of Hontiveros.

READ: Hontiveros vows to push hard for divorce law in Philippines

But Sotto said many senators are not in favor of the proposal because of the word “divorce.”

He said some of his colleagues are more inclined to support the proposal it is termed as “dissolution of marriage,” which would simply relax and make the existing annulment proceedings more efficient and affordable.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri agreed with Sotto, saying their colleagues would rather accept a bill seeking for efficient annulment process.

“Maya-maya divorce kaagad, tapos kasal uli, tapos panibagong girlfriend, divorce kaagad. Ayaw ko ng medyo dysfunctional na concept ng marriage,” he said, noting how married couples in the United States could easily get divorce.

Senator Joel Villanueva also expressed strong opposition to the bill, saying the Philippines is a Christian nation where marriage is considered sacred.

“Banal na sakramento ang kasal, at naniniwala po tayo na hindi po dapat payagan, in general concept hindi dapat paghiwalayin ng tao,” he said. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Lacson open to talking to Duque amid conflict of interest claims

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019

(L-R) Senator Panfilo Lacson and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he is open to a dialogue with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who is facing allegations of conflict of interest.

Lacson made the statement in response to Duque’s remark that he is trying to reach out to the senator to clarify his claims.

READ: Duque to reach out to Lacson on conflict of interest claims

However, rather than having a dialogue, the senator believes it would be better for Duque to explain the issue to the public.

“At the end of the day its between him and God, it’s between him and his conscience, it’s between him and the public,” Lacson told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

Lacson recently revealed that Duque’s family-owned Doctors Pharmaceuticals company bagged government contracts in 2016 and 2017. He also said that Duque’s family owned the building being leased by PhilHealth in Pangasinan.

Duque has repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that he already divested from his family’s firm.

The senator also bared that the health chief has been setting up meetings with several congressmen who are allies of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It was during Arroyo’s presidency when Duque was appointed as Health secretary in 2005.

“Ang impormasyon ko nakikiusap siya sa kaalyado ng dating Pangulong Arroyo na magkaroon ng pagpupulong sa mga kongresista, kung bakit hindi ko alam,” Lacson said.

(Based on the information I received he is talking with the allies of former President Arroyo to have a meeting with congressmen. Why? I don’t know.)

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is set to investigate Duque and other issues dogging the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Phillhealth).

Lacson hopes that Duque will attend the inquiry to shed some light on these issues, particularly the alleged corruption within Philhealth.

“It seems na meron talagang mafia-like group sa PhilHealth na nagmamanipula ng pondo,” he said.

(It seems there really is a mafia-like group in PhilHealth that manipulates funds.)

Lacson said his exposé about the anomalies in PhilHealth is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to fight corruption, which the chief executive emphasized in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July 22. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Appointing ex-cops, soldiers in gov’t is Duterte’s prerogative, Senators say

Robie de Guzman   •   August 1, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte salutes one of the awardees during his visit to Camp Juan Ponce Sumuroy in Catarman, Northern Samar on October 2, 2018. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Some Senators on Wednesday said there is nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to appoint former military and police officers to government posts.

This is in response to Senator Richard Gordon’s expression of disapproval with Duterte’s “frequent” appointment of uniformed officials following the appointment of retired Lt.Gen. Emmanuel Salamat as a Board member of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

READ: Duterte moves MWSS chair to JBC, appoints former military man to gov’t

Gordon on Wednesday said that Duterte’s move to appoint former cops and soldiers to government agencies is “dangerous.”

“It’s a dangerous one because civilian authority must remain supreme over the military. Dapat three years muna bago ka i-appoint… para mawala muna yung ties mo, the ties that bind,” he said in a statement.

Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out that appointing such individuals whom he feels can help his administration’s policies and programs is the president’s prerogative as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

“After all, if his appointees would fall short and fail to deliver, the ultimate responsibility lies in the President who will be accountable to the people,” Lacson said in a statement.

The senator added that presidential appointees are subject to confirmation by the Commission of Appointments.

Lacson, a former National Police chief, also said that an appointee should be judged on their competence and integrity and not on their professional background.

“Without sounding biased since I also came from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the police, what if those appointees would also question the wisdom of appointing too many lawyers in government? What is important is the competence and integrity of those appointees, and not their professional background,” he said.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa, also a former National Police chief, meanwhile questioned the rationale behind Gordon’s proposal to wait for three years before appointing a retired uniformed officer.

“Civilian officers and retired military officers are both civilians so what is the rationale behind the three-year ban? The moment a military officer retires from the service and hangs his uniform, he reverts back to civilian status,” he said.

Duterte earlier explained that his penchant for choosing former military and police officials to be part of his Cabinet is mainly due to their diligence and their capacity to follow orders.

Among those appointed by Duterte are former Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff Eduardo Año, Roy Cimatu; former Philippine Army Chief Rolando Bautista, and former Northern Luzon Command chief Salamat.

Año now leads the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Cimatu heads the Department of Environment and Natural Resources while Bautista leads the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Other former military and police officers appointed by the president are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, TESDA chief Isidro Lapeña, Bases and Conversion Development Authority chief Glorioso Miranda, HUDCC chairperson Eduardo del Rosario, MMDA chair Danilo Lim, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and PCSO general manager Royina Garma.

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