Special joint session likely to focus on length of martial law extension – Senators

UNTV News   •   July 21, 2017   •   3008


Some senators have expressed reservations on the issue of a five-month extension or up to the end of the year for the declaration of martial law.

Senator Joel Villanueva said this is likely to be the biggest issue that will be tackled in the joint session on Saturday.

This might also mean that the issue on the scope of the martial rule will no longer be questioned.

“We did not discuss much about extending the scope of the declaration of martial law. We feel that our officials are ready,” said Sen. Villanueva.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto has the same view on the matter.

“There will likely be a lot of opinions like for another 60-days, because after 60 days, if the [crisis] is not yet quelled, let’s have it for another 60-days. That is likely what others will say,” Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Senator Leila de Lima in a statement said, beyond the 60-day period it may be considered unconstitutional.

In connection with the Congress session on Saturday, according to Sotto, they are now finalizing the rules for deliberation of the request of the president.

They will  limit the time of each lawmaker’s speech and interpellation.

Sotto added that the session will be open to public because the people have the right to know the current situation of the country.

He added that there should be no questioning when it comes to the joint voting of Congress.

This, despite domination of the Lower House in terms of number.

“In the Constitution, in the 4 or 5 times that the votes of Congress are mentioned or decisions of Congress are mentioned, it is only on the issue of martial law that the word jointly is used,” Sotto added.

Amid the questions on joint voting, according to house Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas they will carefully explain the issue among their members. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News and Rescue

Senators express dismay over Roque’s vaccine remark

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators have expressed dismay over Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s remark on why Filipinos should not be picky with the COVID-19 vaccine brand they will receive.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, in a statement, said it is not fair for Filipinos to not be able to choose their vaccines made available by the government. Lacson added he would not pick a vaccine with 50% against other brands with 79% efficacy.

“Instead of building people’s confidence by starting with a higher efficacy vaccine and accomplish its intended purpose, to tell them they can’t be choosy is definitely not a smart information campaign to promote mass inoculation,” he said.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan also said the Palace should stop with the remarks since it can only lessen the trust of Filipinos on vaccines

Itong mga bitiw na salita ng spokesperson tungkol sa bakuna sa totoo lang ay nakakadagdag sa kawalan ng tiwala sa bakuna ng taumbayan. Hindi nakakatulong (The spokesperson’s words about the vaccine only adds to the distrust on vaccines. It is not helping),” Pangilinan said.

In a press briefing on Monday (January 11), Roque said the public should not be ‘choosy’ with the COVID-19 vaccines they would receive from the government.

Totoo po, mayroon tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan (It is true that we have the right for better health but we cannot be picky because a lot of Filipinos need to be vaccinated),” Roque said.

Senator Grace Poe reiterated that it is the Filipinos’ right to choose which vaccine brand they want to receive.

“The Filipino people have every right to choose which vaccine to take, it is their money the government is spending to procure the precious doses,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing Czar Vince Dizon said the government is not favoring a specific country for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Wala po tayong policy na pinapaboran ang isang vaccine o isang bansa. Lahat po ng vaccines na safe and effective ay ipu-pursue ng national government, vaccine czar, at vaccine cluster (There is no policy that favors a vaccine or country. All safe and effective vaccines are being pusued by the national government, vaccine czar, and vaccine cluster),” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senators split over creation of Department of Disaster Resilience

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 4, 2020

Senators have split opinions on the creation of a new disaster-related government agency in the wake of strong typhoons that hit the country recently.

A bill that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, is currently pending in the Senate after the House of Representatives approved the bill on the third and final reading last September 21.

Several senators opined that the creation of the said department would be redundant since its responsibility would be similar to the responsibilities of already established government agencies.

Senator Franklin Drilon said the departments should form a concrete plan in disaster response instead of creating a full department.

“I do not see the need for a full department only for disaster resilience. I believe that an overall plan on the number of departments should be in place, instead of a ‘knee-jerk’ push for a creation of certain departments. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?,” he said in a statement.

Drilon said the country already has the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of the Civil Defense that address disasters and other calamities experienced by the country.

However, Senator Grace Poe said disaster response should be prioritized, stressing the need to create the Department of Disaster Resilience.

“We need a dedicated agency that will focus on disaster resilience and management. Every calamity coming our way reminds us of the missed opportunity to be better prepared and give a more adequate response to the people and local governments. Let’s make this a priority,” she said.

Senator Bong Go also urged the Senate to re-discuss the said bill since it concerns the lives of Filipinos in times of calamities.

“With the Department of Disaster Resilience, [it will be] one department with regional offices and even provincial offices po na ready pong tumugon, (ready to respond),” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, still has yet to confirm when the Senate will discuss the said bill. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senators seek probe on PH envoy to Brazil accused of mistreating service staff

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Some senators are seeking a thorough investigation into the alleged maltreatment of a Filipino household worker by Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Joel Villanueva both expressed outrage, calling the actions of the country’s envoy “deplorable” and “conduct unbecoming a diplomat official.”

Mauro was caught on CCTV maltreating her unidentified Filipina service staff on several occasions.

The video footage was shown on the Brazilian news channel GloboNews last Sunday and was picked up by international news organizations.

“While watching the video, I was horrified to see the brazenness of our ambassador to Brazil in physically maltreating the embassy service staff. I cannot imagine how people in her position could enact such violence to the very people they are sworn to protect,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“How can we demand foreign employers of our OFWs, especially domestic helpers, to respect their rights and not maltreat them, when the very people who are supposed to protect and defend them abroad are the ones abusing them? This is such a terrible incident and a black eye on our image abroad,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has ordered Mauro to return to the Philippines and explain the matter.

Zubiri called on the DFA to immediately conduct an investigation and “prosecute the official if found violating labor laws and the Kasambahay Law.”

Villanueva also condemned the incident, stressing that the country’s embassies should be taking care of the welfare of Filipinos overseas.

“The incident should also serve notice to the diplomatic service that ‘as representatives of our country to a foreign land, one is expected to protect the well-being of our people starting with the ones at their own backyards,’” Villanueva added.

The senator also urged the DFA to examine existing grievance mechanisms in our posts to ensure that Filipinos have immediate recourse to the department’s head office in Maninla when incidents such as this happen to prevent its recurrence and escalation.

“This incident must give focus on what kind of grievance procedure our Embassies provide our OFWs. The DFA should recheck if there is an active system that actually works in providing protection to OFWs and any case of abuse and maltreatment does not go unchecked,” he said.


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