Tag Archives: Juan Ponce-Enrile

[Right-Up] Digong and Johnny, Classic Leviathans | Norman Novio

#HumanRights #Corruption

Digong and Johnny, Classic Leviathans

Juan Ponce Enrile was Rodrigo Duterte’s special guest in the latter’s regular public address on May 17, 2021 and they spent a one hour and 10-minute of scratching each other’s back, flattering each other like toddlers.

President Duterte, who vowed to eradicate corruption until the end of his term, designated as his honorable guest last Wednesday former Marcos architect Enrile who is still facing one plunder and 15 graft charges because of the reported misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF). Allegedly, Enrile endorsed the phony NGO owned by Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for bribes. Enrile’s chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, is still incarcerated at Camp Bagong Diwa for her alleged role in said scam. According to reports your old man Johnny and Gigi are lovers. Just this January, Reyes filed a motion for her temporary release citing that the corona virus might spread inside the prison facility. The Sandigangbayan instantly denied her bid.

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[In the news] Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return -INQUIRER.net

Santiago sees Palace hand in Gigi’s return.
By TJ A. Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 21, 2014

It’s not farfetched that the Aquino administration has convinced Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to testify against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile over the alleged P10-billion pork scam in exchange for her acquittal, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Sunday.

inquirer

Santiago said it would be logical for President Aquino to order government officials to bring home eyewitnesses in the “galactic corruption” to pin down its brains.

The former trial judge said Enrile was the mastermind who convinced Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. to take part in the scam.

If reports were true that Enrile was unaware of the abrupt return of Reyes, his former chief of staff, this could mean that they had “broken up,” said Santiago, who has a running feud with the former Senate president.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/595941/santiago-sees-palace-hand-in-gigis-return#ixzz2zXXCTfJg

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[Petition] Senator Jinggoy Estrada: RESIGN IMMEDIATELY..because honor must be restored in the Senate -Change.org

Senator Jinggoy Estrada: RESIGN IMMEDIATELY..because honor must be restored in the Senate
By #ScrapPork Network

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More than seven months after the August 2013 Million People March, which called for an end to pork and the punishment of all abusers of pork, the Office of the Ombudsman has finally indicted three very high government officials: Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, for allegedly diverting more than P600 million of taxpayers’ funds.

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In other countries, executive and legislative officials step down from their posts when their wrongdoings are exposed. This is why the Scrap Pork Network launched a petition calling on Enrile, Estrada and Revilla to resign immediately from the Senate. The petition also says that if they don’t, the people should pressure the Senate to start moves for expulsion.

If you agree with the Scrap Pork Network’s call, sign this petition, share it on social media, and invite friends and kin to sign:

Sign petition @www.change.org

[Call for endorsement] Legitimate NGOs call for transparency and accountability

IF YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT THIS STATEMENT, KINDLY PM OR COMMENT SO WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND WE SEND TO MEDIA. THANK YOU.

Legitimate NGOs call for transparency and accountability

On 18 July 2013, we had a roundtable attended by more than 50 legitimate NGOs, funding/partner agencies, media and the DSWD that was held at the Commission on Human Rights. The roundtable was called at the instance of concerned NGO workers on women and children’s rights who felt the need to gather opinions, constructive feedback and suggestions about how they may learn from disturbing developments involving fraud allegations and unethical conduct against NGOs. One of the action points identified during the roundtable was the issuance of a statement by the group to address these disturbing allegations.

We have put in many years of our lives serving the Filipino people and have been able to make many changes in policies as well as contributed to concrete improvements in the lives of children and women especially those needing special protection. Thus, we feel we should not be silent while our credibility and reputation are put in question. We also believe that legitimate NGOs must muster a common agenda that will further our commitment to uphold children and women’s rights using transparent and accountable systems of governance and self-regulations.

These appalling fraud allegations involving NGOs, particularly the pork barrel scam made possible by utilizing fake NGOs, will never serve to prevent us from pursuing our work to serve the Filipino people, but these disturbing events gave us all pause for thought. In the course of our service, it has become quite customary for us to work on constricting budget and resources, encountering insufficient funds to support desired size of operations yet faithfully scrimping to fully implement and operationalize our visions and missions. We have built our credibility, experience and expertise through years and decades of hard work recognized nationally and internationally. Finding out about these alleged fraudulent and unethical conducts leaves us shaken, deeply alarmed and betrayed.

A recent article in the Inquirer stated that, “The Commission on Audit last Friday reported that some P6.2 billion from the TPDAF of Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Gregorio Honasan III were transferred to 82 non-government organizations, which could not be accounted for, from 2007 to 2009. Ten of the NGOs had links with Napoles, who allegedly through her company JLN Trading Corp., converted P10 billion in pork barrel fund into kickbacks over 10 years, using dummy foundations, fake beneficiaries and bogus signatures of officials. ” This report does not include yet the questionable transfer of funds by administration-allied legislators.

The 10billion pesos siphoned off to fill the pockets of private individuals and politicians is staggering. This amount alone could have gone a long way to alleviate the suffering of the poorest of the poor and most vulnerable of Filipinos. There would have been no need for mothers to leave their children and look for menial jobs in cities and outside of the country. Studies validated by our on-the-ground work have shown that children whose mothers are absent are most vulnerable to abuse. Further, the migration of women and girls have made them vulnerable to trafficking, prostitution, forced labor and slavery.

In addition, not only are we NGO workers doing legitimate work, we are also taxpayers. This pork barrel scam is the height of betrayal by our public officers and officials who we trusted to ensure that public funds are utilized for the benefit of the country and the Filipino people. The scam happened and continued to happen for a long time because legislators and government officials were not mindful about exercising due diligence in safeguarding public funds entrusted to them. Instead, they directly or indirectly participated in defrauding taxpayers and the Filipino people for their own personal benefits and interests.

Hence, we call and demand for transparency and accountability from the government and also civil society groups. Particularly, we call for the following:

1. Full and public investigation of the ‘pork barrel scam’ and the immediate abolition of the pork barrel system.
2. Revisit, review and streamline BIR, SEC, and DSWD regulating mechanisms and policies and ensure full implementation and enhanced monitoring.
3. Although there are existing mechanisms in regulating NGOs, and while NGOs have their own mandates for transparency and accountability, there is a need to strengthen self-regulation within the NGO community, such as revisiting scope and effectiveness of existing independent inter-NGO peer evaluation or regulation.
4. Passage of a Whistleblower Law.

Concerned NGO workers:

Amihan Abueva
Cristina Sevilla
Dolores SD. Alforte
Ana Dionela
Jean Enriquez
Zenaida Rosales
Elizabeth de Castro
Aida Santos
Rowena Cordero

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[Statement] Birds of the same feather… -KPD

BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER…

by KPD

The crowd that attended the book launch of “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir” last October 4, 2012 at the Manila Peninsula were people who have lived in the corridors of power and immensely benefited from the system. As one newspaper reported, “the invitation of Enrile brought together an odd assortment of colorful characters whose careers and personalities have crossed, intersected and clashed on the very public state of Philippine politics”.

Surprisingly, the book launching was also attended by a section of the ruling class that were victims of martial law. The caption “No permanent friends, only permanent interests” with the picture of the launching hugged the headlines, hitting the nail on the head. Let bygones be bygones. The ruling class can live with each other and even forgive one another.

Their overwhelming concern is that the system continually serve their interests and reap benefits for them while the reins of political power shift from one faction to another via an election. Aberrations like the Marcos dictatorship, the revolutionary government of Cory Aquino and the illegitimate rule of Gloria Arroyo are testimonies of the fractiousness of the ruling class on one hand and how their contradictions are being resolved momentarily on the other hand. Those who lose out at any point can always worm back into the seat of political power. The most important thing is that the well-entrenched power remains with them.

Beyond the book launching, the attendance also conclusively reflects the entire ruling class’ support for PNoy’s institutionalization of reforms in the system, making the system more subservient to foreign capital and more misery on people’s lives. Their current unity is best expressed in the claim of the parties out of power that they are not the opposition to PNoy’s administration. In fact, some political parties have coalesced with the ruling Liberal Party in the coming election.

The timing of the book launch of Enrile is revealing. It comes at a time that Enrile enjoys high popularity rating after the Senate impeachment of Corona and a week after the country commemorated the 40th anniversary of martial law. Afterwards, on daily basis, the contents of the memoir are daily being dished out in the newspapers.

There is more than meets the eye. The event reiterates an established fact – that victors always write the history. The crowd at the book launching which was practically an array of the ruling class became a fait accompli in rewriting the real pages of the martial law period.

Looking back, the Marcos dictatorship was not an isolated case. It was part of a period where the US installed and supported dictators within and among its client states – Somoza in Nicaragua, Suharto in Indonesia to name a few. Granting that the “martial law blueprint was spelled out during Marcos inaugural speech on December 30, 1965”, it still needed the go signal and tacit support from the US to declare and implement the martial law.

Enrile “who has held power at its apex for 46 years” was never for people’s democracy. Until now, Enrile is still a rabid apologist for martial law and authoritarianism that resulted in the incarceration of more than 70,000 people, 34,000 tortured, 3,240 killed and 1,000 disappeared. If the plot to oust Marcos had been successful in the first quarter of 1986, they would then install a civilian military junta.

In his last month’s skirmish with Trillanes, he arrogantly announced that as a Senate president, he is answerable to no one.

And still, Enrile had the gall to “re-engineer himself” as the humane face of the dictatorship and in the process portray himself as a hero. In his twilight years, the memoir is Enrile’s serious attempt to carve his lasting positive legacy on the history of the nation. Part of this is sanitizing, nay cosmetizing his role during martial law.

Recently, he claimed that his ambush on that “one fateful night in September 1972” was for real and its staging was not needed to justify the imposition of martial law. This was long after his admission to the public last February 22, 1986 that the ambush was fake.

What version now to believe? The circumstances of the contradictory claims were different. February, 1986 found Enrile among those who holed in Camp Aguinaldo and was under threat of being attacked by the pro-Marcos forces. Yes, it was an admission of a man unsure to live another day. It was like an admission of a dying man.

The reconstruction of stories and tales are also curios . Acts, events, and statements are attributed to individuals that are already dead like Marcos, Ver and even Ninoy Aquino. These people could not tell their own tales to contradict Enrile. For dead men could not tell their own stories.

Why should Enrile wait for the launching of his memoir to peddle these stories? Immediately, after his “transformation” last February, 1986 by admitting that the ambush was fake, he could have made restitutions by spelling out the whole truth about martial law. Then, it would stand scrutiny because the key players then of martial law were still alive. He never did.

Enrile is one of the best and proven defenders of the status quo for almost 50 years. Let us read the book for what its worth – one of the best exposition on how the ruling class writes their own version of distorted history.

Others will also try to write their own version of history. But we know for a fact that it is solely the people who make real history. And with the people, let us write and build our own history. For, it is in righting the wrongs of history that we avoid the condemnation to repeat the horrors of the past.
Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)
October 1, 2012

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[Press Release] Women workers to do ‘Senate housekeeping for RH’ -PM

Women workers to do ‘Senate housekeeping for RH’


Women members of the Partido ng Manggagawa held a picket-rally at the Senate of the Philippines this morning. PM was joined by women from other groups such the FDC Women’s Committee, Piglas Kababaihan, DAMPA and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).

The picket-rally aims to push anti-RH bill Senators to stop filibustering and pass the RH bill before Congress 3rd Regular Session. Women workers brought with them them plungers (pambomba ng toilet bowl) to unclog the Senate with the likes of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Tito Sotto who are preventing the immediate passage of the bill. With the faces of the two senators, women will carry the slogan, “May mga bara sa RH, hindi kami happy!”

“The actions of Senators Enrile and Sotto are anti-poor and anti-women. Women workers have been enduring hardships, the passage of the RH bill would have provided great relief. After more than a decade, we are almost at the finish line. But Senators Enrile and Sotto are preventing us from crossing that line. We are not happy,” declared PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

Ms. Miranda explained that PM members in Negros Occidental are hopeful. Earning a meager P90 a day prevents them from exercising their rights to RH services and commodities. “Ang RH bill ay hindi para sa gaya nilang mga mayayamang senador. Ang RH bill ay para sa aming mahihirap na hindi kumakasya ang kita, na sa pagkain pa lang ay kulang na. Iginigiit nila ang kanilang gusto, paano naman kami?” added the PM secretary general.

PM also said that latest reports have shown the increase in underemployment, prices of basic commodities and social services. Women workers are distressed and all Enrile and Sotto could do is filibuster. “We will not relent, we will not stop until the RH bill is passed, we have come this far, we cannot just give up,” ended Ms. Miranda.

PRESS RELEASE
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
19 September 2012
Contact Judy Ann Miranda @ 09228677522

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[In the news] ‘Put RH bill to a vote now’ -PhilStar.com

‘Put RH bill to a vote now’
The Philippine Star
September 09, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Stop the dilatory tactics and simply put the Reproductive Health (RH) bill to a vote.

This was the challenge issued yesterday by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to her colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives to determine once and for all which side – the pro or the anti – has the numbers.

Santiago also came to the defense of Sen. Pia Cayetano, her co-author of the bill, who was taken to task by anti-RH bill advocates Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto for complaining about the delays faced by the measure.

Santiago said what was happening in the Senate deliberations over the RH bill was clearly dilatory.

She cited the decision of Sotto to avail himself of the turno en contra or rebuttal after the period of interpellation.

Santiago said the only time the turno en contra is even availed of is during deliberations on the general appropriations bill.

“But because it is his right, I don’t want to object. But other people who are also on his side rose up to say I want to interpellate my colleague on the same side,’’ she said.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

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[Isyung HR] State of the Mokong Address

State of the Mokong Address

Babala: ang inyong mababasa ay pawang mga opinyon lamang, kathang isip at katuwaan. Ang mapikon… Mokong nga e.

Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga kagalang-galang na kagawad ng kalipunang diplomatiko; mga kagalang-galang na miyembro ng Kamara de Representante at ng Senado; mga pinuno ng pamahalaang lokal; mga miyembro ng ating Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa kong nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan; at, siyempre, sa akin pong mga boss, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Mokong: Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Walang tumalima, kasi wala naman palang nakatayo.

Mokong: Senate President Gusto ko Happy ka, haping-hapi ako sa ‘yo. Speaker Sonny “Cha-Cha” Belmonte, mga dating pangulong “Philippines 2000” at “Erap para sa mahirap”; ang ating mga His/Her Excellency sa diplomatic community, mga pork barrel recipient, mga human rights violators at sa aking pong mga boss, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA, at parang kailan lang nang nagsimula tayong mangarap. Parang kailan lang nang sabay-sabay tayong nagpasyang tahakin ang tuwid na daan. Parang kailan lang nang sinimulan nating iwaksi ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada kundi sa sistemang panlipunan.

Dalawang taon na ang nakalipas mula nang sinabi ninyo, “Sawa na kami sa korupsyon; sawa na kami sa kahirapan.” Oras na upang ibalik ang isang pamahalaang tunay na kakampi ng taumbayan.

Mokong: Ito po ang aking ikatlong SONA at wala pa rin akong balak maglabas ng National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP), at parang kailan lang nang sabay-sabay tayong nagpasyang tahakin ang tuwid na daang para lamang sa iilan. Parang kailan lang nang sinimulan nating iwaksi ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada kundi sa sistemang panlipunan.

Dalawang taon na ang nakalipas nang sinabi ninyo, “Sawa na kami sa korupsiyon; sawa na kami sa kahirapan.”

Taong kamukongan: (sumingit) Mokong highness sinabi rin po namin, sawa na kami sa Impunity!
Mokong: Oras na upang ibalik ang isang pamahalaang kakampi ng taumbayan.

Taong Kamukongan: Bakit san ka pupunta? Are you going to resign and let the kamukongan people reign?

Gaya ng marami sa inyo, namulat ako sa panggigipit ng makapangyarihan. Labindalawang-taong gulang po ako nang idineklara ang Batas Militar. Bumaliktad ang aming mundo: Pitong taon at pitong buwang ipiniit ang aking ama; tatlong taong napilitang mangibang-bansa ang aking pamilya; naging saksi ako sa pagdurusa ng marami dahil sa diktadurya. Dito napanday ang aking prinsipyo: Kung may inaagrabyado’t ninanakawan ng karapatan, siya ang kakampihan ko. Kung may abusadong mapang-api, siya ang lalabanan ko. Kung may makita akong mali sa sistema, tungkulin kong itama ito.

Mokong: Gaya ng marami sa inyo, namulat ako sa panggigipit ng makapangyarihan. Labindalawang-taong gulang po ako nang idineklara ang Batas Militar. Bumaliktad ang aming mundo: Pitong taon at pitong buwang ipiniit ang aking ama kaya hindi ako nagpapalaya ng political prisoners ngayon; tatlong taong napilitang mangibang-bansa ang aking pamilya kaya wala akong banggit ngayon hinggil sa OFW; naging saksi ako sa pagdurusa ng marami dahil sa diktadurya kaya hindi naipasa ang Compensation for all victims of Martial Law. Dito napanday ang aking prinsipyo: Kung may inaagrabyado’t ninanakawan ng karapatan, siya ang kakampihan ko kaya nga wala akong NHRAP. Kung may abusadong mapang-api, siya ang lalabanan ko kaya wala pang napaparusahan na human rights violators. Kung may makita akong mali sa sistema, tungkulin kong itama ito kaya nga may impunity.

Matagal nang tapos ang Batas Militar. Tinanong tayo noon, “Kung hindi tayo, sino pa?” at “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” Ang nagkakaisang tugon natin: tayo at ngayon na. Ang demokrasyang ninakaw gamit ang paniniil at karahasan, nabawi natin sa mapayapang paraan; matagumpay nating pinag-alab ang liwanag mula sa pinakamadilim na kabanata ng ating kasaysayan.

Ngunit huwag po nating kalimutan ang pinag-ugatan ng Batas Militar: Kinasangkapan ng diktador ang Saligang Batas upang manatili sa kapangyarihan. At hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ang banggaan sa pagitan ng gusto ng sistemang parehas, laban sa mga nagnanais magpatuloy ng panlalamang.

Matagal nang tapos ang Batas Militar kaya matagal nang walang hustisya sa mga biktima. Tinanong tayo noon, “Kung hindi tayo, sino pa?” at “Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?” kalian pa maipapasa ang batas para sa kumpensasyon? Ang nagkakaisang tugon natin: tayo at ngayon na. Ang demokrasyang ninakaw gamit ang paniniil at karahasan, nabawi natin sa mapayapang paraan; matagumpay nating pinag-alab ang liwanag mula sa pinakamadilim na kabanata ng ating kasaysayan, kaya naman nakabalik na ang mga Marcos sa mahahalagang pusisyon sa gobyrno.

Ngunit huwag po nating kalimutan ang pinag-ugatan ng Batas Militar: Kinasangkapan ng diktador ang Saligang Batas upang manatili sa kapangyarihan at kasama pa noon ang ilang nasa senado at kongreso. At hanggang ngayon, tuloy pa rin ang banggaan sa pagitan ng gusto ng sistemang parehas, laban sa mga nagnanais magpatuloy ng panlalamang.

Abangan Itutuloy…

Visit more of kamokongan @ The Mokong Perpective

[Press Release] House OK’s bill for climate change survival fund -Aksyon Klima

House OK’s bill for climate change survival fund

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last Monday (June 4) a bill which will help Filipinos “endure, overcome, and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

The People’s Survival Fund (PSF) bill, now House Bill 6235, aims to establish a climate change fund which can be directly accessed by local governments and communities.

“This is a momentous step towards preparing our communities not only for disasters but for drought and other slow-onset impacts,” said Atty. Elpidio Peria, convenor of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, which is composed of about 40 civil society organizations.

The PSF bill was authored primarily by Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III and co-authored by about 100 other Representatives. The bill was already passed in the Senate last year, with its president Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as the primary author.

“The passing of the PSF bill in the Lower House couldn’t have come at a better time. It hastened the bicameral process between the House and the Senate,” explained Kairos Dela Cruz, policy coordinator of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, the member organization of Aksyon Klima which led the campaigning for the bill.

The consolidated output from the bicameral conference committee can then be turned over to President Benigno Aquino III for approval.

If signed into law, the established fund would be sourced from public and private sources, including foreign grants. Fifty million pesos would be allotted from the General Appropriations Act for its initial implementation.

Fisherfolk from the Save the Fisheries Now network recently visited the members of the Lower House’s fisheries committee to express their support for the PSF.

Sa pagtaas ng alat ng tubig ay namamatay ang mga corals at bakawan, kaya nawawalan ng tirahan at namamatay rin ang lamang dagat,” said Pablo Rosales, a fisherfolk from Navotas and one of the fisheries network’s leaders. “Lumulubog din ang komunidad sa pagtaas ng tubig dagat. Ang aming mga tahanan sa tabing dagat ang nawawasak sa panahon ng mga kalamidad, kasama na ang mga kagamitan namin sa pangingisda. Hindi pa man kami nakakabangon tatamaan uli kami ng kalamidad.”

(Coral reefs and mangroves are dying because the sea is becoming saltier, which in turn reduces the natural habitat of seafood species. Our communities are also sinking because of sea-level rise. Our homes are destroyed in times of calamities, including our fishing gear. We do not yet recover when another calamity comes our way.)

 

PRESS RELEASE | 5 June 2012

CONTACT:
Denise M. Fontanilla
Advocacy Officer
TF +632.927.0122
Mobile +63906.438.7229

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[People] Reproductive Health: Sidelined but Irrepressible By Walden Bello

Reproductive Health: Sidelined but Irrepressible

By Walden Bello
INQUIRER.net
May 21, 2012

When the Reproductive Health Bill (House Bill 4244) made it past Committee on Population early in 2011, legislators and civil society organizations supporting RH were ecstatic. They had reason to be, for after 14 years of being bottled up in committee, the RH bill had blasted its way to the plenary and appeared to have the momentum.

The Pro-RH Legislative Strategy

Riding on this momentum, the strategy of the pro-RH forces centered on two moves: 1) getting the President of the Republic of the Philippines to declare himself for the RH bill; and 2) getting the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate to call for an early vote on the measure.

The pro-RH forces were successful in getting the President to declare himself in favor of the bill. After initially toying with the idea of crafting an RH bill that would be “more sensitive” to the concerns of the Roman Catholic Church, President Benigno Aquino III, perhaps realizing there was no appeasing the Church hierarchy on the issue, finally decided to support the bill drafted by Senate and House proponents of RH. This was a major victory.

However, the RH forces’ attempt to follow up on this major step forward by extracting a commitment from the President to actively push the pro-administration coalition in the House to take a vote on the issue was less successful. The president’s reluctance appeared to stem from a combination of a desire not to infringe on the independence of the legislature and a sense that the administration’s parliamentary contingent was deeply divided on the issue.

Getting the Speaker of the House of Representatives to call for an early vote has been more difficult than persuading the president to publicly support the bill. Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte is pro-RH. Indeed, he is frank in telling people how he cannot understand “why any legislator would be against this bill.” But he remains hesitant to call for a vote. According to some pro-RH advocates, his reluctance might stem from a number of factors, among them, the desire of someone oriented toward compromise to avoid confrontation with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, an unwillingness to trigger division in the majority coalition that he leads, and lack of confidence that the numbers are there to “decisively” pass the bill. Some observers say he fears that a defeat or narrow victory might be viewed as a major blow to his leadership, leading to its being contested by other forces. Others say, however, that the Speaker, a careful strategist, is simply waiting for the right opportunity to strike and clinch the bill.

As for the situation in the Senate, it has turned out to be more precarious than that in the House. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the Majority Leader Tito Sotto have emerged as vociferous foes of the measure. While Sotto’s demagogical opposition had been expected, Enrile’s uncompromising stance had not been. And whereas defense of the bill in the House has been handled by a wide range of proponents, the task has been left in the Senate to two women, Senators Miriam Santiago and Pia Cayetano, the pro-RH men of the chamber apparently unwilling to stick their heads above the foxhole.

Delaying Tactics

In any event, a year and a half after it fought its way out of the committee, the RH bill is marooned in the parliamentary doldrums. The numbers continue to favor it in both the House and the Senate, though every session day that passes endangers that edge.

With the provisional vote count favoring the bill, the strategy of the opponents of the measure in the House has been to use repeated long interpellations or the threat of a quorum call to prevent the bill from coming to a vote or, failing that, to push the vote as close as possible to the 2013 elections in order to make pro-RH legislators waver in the face of the Church hierarchy’s threat to turn voters against them at the polls. Some say this strategy is effective, and the reason is that while the number of voters that might be influenced by the Church is not sizeable—perhaps coming to only 5 to 10 per cent of the electorate—it might nevertheless constitute the critical swing vote in close electoral contests.

Some RH proponents think this is just bluff, that there is no such thing as a “Catholic vote” like the “Iglesia ni Cristo vote.” But bluff or not, the threat is perceived as real by many members of Congress.

Church Opposition

The Roman Catholic hierarchy has waged a massive campaign against the bill. This has included threats to block the election of members of Congress voting for the bill, the mobilization of parish priests to inveigh against the bill in their weekend sermons, and the spread of disinformation about RH.

The main thrust of the Church’s propaganda has been to paint contraception as a vital step on the slippery slope towards abortion, indeed to make contraception indistinguishable from abortion. With no supporting evidence at all, contraceptive pills have been rhetorically denounced as “abortifacients.”

Another debating strategy is to deny that a high fertility rate and a high population growth rate in a low-growth economy like the Philippines constitute obstacles to development.

The fast and loose use of statistics marks the arguments of anti-RH advocates, along with really outrageous claims, like the assertion that condom use in Thailand has caused the spread of AIDs. Or that the RH bill is part of a US plot “to keep down the population of developing countries”—the so-called “Kissinger Doctrine.” Or that it is all part of a conspiracy of the big foreign pharmaceutical companies to expand the local market for artificial contraceptives.

When it is pointed out that most other religions and religious denominations in the country either favor or do not oppose the bill, the argument is simply brushed aside with the claim that 80 per cent of the population owes fealty to Rome.

Public Information Campaign

That these arguments have not cut any ice in both chambers is due to the fact that the pro-RH forces have done a good job of shooting them down and mustering strong arguments in support of the bill. Particularly effective in the floor debates have been the following arguments:

– The RH bill is built on the basic democratic principle of freedom of choice;

– Access to family planning is essential to maternal and child health;

– Survey after survey has shown a significant majority of respondents favoring family planning, including artificial contraception;

– Poor respondents, by a large majority, favor access to government-provided or facilitated family planning methods, including condoms, pills, and other methods of contraception;

– The 450,000 abortions that take place yearly can be significantly cut down by access to contraceptives;

– Income level is negatively correlated with family size, meaning the bigger the family, the poorer it is;

– Effective family planning is a central element in any strategy to promote development and reduce poverty.

This legislator’s contribution to the debate consisted of a four-part series of articles published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the leading daily newspaper, showing the strong correlation between family planning and successful development efforts in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, and the correlation between uncontrolled population growth and failed development in the Philippines.

Based on field research in the four countries, I argued:

“What accounts for the difference in the performance of the four economies?

“Economic policy? Hardly, since all four countries followed export-oriented economic strategies over the last four decades.

“Structural adjustment? Not really, since all four economies were subjected to some variety of market-oriented reform, though it is arguable that adjustment was milder in our neighbors than in our country.

“Asset and income redistribution? No, since as in the Philippines, state-promoted asset and income redistribution programs in Thailand and Indonesia were either weak or nonexistent.

“Corruption? Again, all four countries have been marked by high levels of corruption, with Indonesia being a consistent topnotcher in annual surveys.

“There is, in fact, one very distinctive feature that separates the Philippines from its neighbors: unlike our country, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand managed to rein in the growth of their populations through effective state-sponsored family planning programs. And while successful family planning is not the whole story, economists and demographers have a consensus that it is an essential element in the narrative of economic advance in our neighboring countries.”

Unexpected Development

Exasperated with the anti-RH forces’ delaying tactics, the pro-RH forces have recently intensified their effort to the Speaker for a vote before the sine die adjournment of the second session in early June. Unfortunately, something completely unexpected occurred that contributed to rolling back the pro-RH timetable. This was the impeachment trial of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is reaching its climax. Since the RH bill and the trial of the Chief Justice (a move pushed by the House of Representatives and supported by the President) are the two most controversial issues in the country, the final resolution of both coming at almost the same time has apparently worried some quarters of the ruling establishment as overloading the political system.

In the view of some RH proponents, however, this danger is overstated and simply serves as an excuse for the House and Senate leaderships to postpone a contentious but necessary reckoning before the adjournment of the second session of the 15th Congress.

Higher Stakes?

As the second session draws to a close, my sense is that while the RH congressional advocates and civil society supporters have done a superb job in pushing the issue, in terms of legislative strategy, public information, and mass mobilizations, they have come up against determined and fanatical opposition from the Church hierarchy, which has made stopping the bill a top priority.

Why is the Church so uncompromising? Perhaps revealing in this regard was a recent remark by former Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani, one of the most aggressive opponents of the bill: “One…argument submitted by the proponents of the RH bill is the fact that other countries with a Catholic majority have already accepted what is being proposed by the present RH bill. The answer to that is a simple: ‘If they have gone the wrong way, why should we follow them?’ The Popes have been lamenting this slide of many Catholic countries to secularism. We should be proud that we have bucked the trend to a great extent.”

In other words, the battle over RH, from the point of view of the Church hierarchy, is not just about RH. It is about a historic, nay cosmic, struggle to maintain the Church’s ideological hold on the minds of Filipinos. It is a last ditch stand against that great foe, the secular Enlightenment, which has triumphed in most other countries with a Christian religious heritage. Three key hard-won principles of the Enlightenment are present in the RH bill: the freedom of choice, the use of reason and science to ameliorate people’s lives, and the separation of Church and state.

The Catholic Church hierarchy is desperately seeking to remain relevant to Filipinos, but it has chosen the wrong battle to fight, for most Filipinos have already left it behind when it comes to reproductive health, and the bishops and their congressional allies are now a small embattled minority. As in many other countries, most people in this country—myself included–remain broadly respectful of the Church, but they want it out of the bedroom and are dismayed at its attempt at totalitarian doctrinal control. As in many other countries, “bucking the trend,” as Msgr. Bacani puts it, will result not in transformative redemption but in painful isolation. Whether in Ireland, Germany, Southern Europe, or the United States, the hierarchy’s wrongheaded stand on contraception combined with the awful revelations of numerous cases of sexual abuse of children and sexual abuse and harassment of women by priests that Rome and Church hierarchies have tolerated all over the Catholic world has been the perfect formula for the descent into disrepute and irrelevance.

Our problem, though, is that the Church hierarchy’s suicidal stand against reason threatens to bring down the country along with it in Gotterdamerung style. It has been almost 14 years since the reproductive health bill was first introduced in Congress. Since it then, the population of the country has grown from 75 million to over 94 million. The scorched-earth rearguard action of the Catholic Church hierarchy against rationality and collective responsibility has unfortunately condemned millions of those children who joined our country in the last 14 years to grinding poverty and a precarious existence.

Despite setbacks in schedule, I am confident that, whatever their personal stance on the issue, the leaders of the House and Senate will be able to gather the courage to bring the RH Bill to a vote sooner rather than later. There is no doubt that when the RH Bill does come to a vote, it will be a transcendental event in our country’s painful progress away from ignorance and blind tradition that began with the movement for secular reform promoted by the ilustrados, the Reform Movement, and the Revolutionary Movement in the late 19th century but which remains incomplete. The challenge to members of Congress will be to abandon narrow electoral self-interest and vote on the following choice: an irrational obscurantist stance that would keep the country in prolonged darkness and poverty, or a future marked by vigorous development, prosperity, and a democratic politics that is truly free of clerical interference, marked by a genuine separation of Church and State, and enjoying real religious tolerance.

*Rep. Walden Bello, who represents Akbayan Party in the House of Representatives, is one of the main sponsors of the Reproductive Health Bill.

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[In the news] Reproductive Health bill, changes to anti-money laundering law top Senate agenda | Sun.Star

Reproductive Health bill, changes to anti-money laundering law top Senate agenda | Sun.Star.

May 6, 2012

MANILA — Discussions on the controversial Reproductive Health bill will commence in the Senate anytime this week, months after it was stalled in the plenary to give way for pressing matters such as the national budget and impeachment trial.

Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, a critic of the bill, assured that deliberations on Senate Bill 2865 will go on despite the chamber’s divided attention due to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which resumes on Monday.

Since the impeachment trial began last January 16, the Senate likewise had to rearrange its schedule such that legislative sessions are conducted twice a week.

As a result, plenary sessions are done every Tuesday and Wednesday even as Enrile promised to pass “urgent and priority bills” before President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July.

Supporters of the RH bill earlier saw no reason why it will not be enacted this year on the back of “huge” public support and the President’s bias for the measure.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[in the news] Senate seeks feedback on Noy’s advocacies at Asean meet -www.tribuneonline.org

Senate seeks feedback on Noy’s advocacies at Asean meet

By Angie M. Rosales, www.tribuneonline.org
April 9, 2012

Senators are seeking a briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the level of support President Aquino has received concerning issues such as the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and the twin rocket launch of North Korea during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday said the upper chamber committees have the standby authority to conduct hearings, if need be, even as Congress remains in an extended Holy Week break. This was in pursuit of their legislative duties and functions, Enrile said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, Senate foreign relations committee chairman, said they have asked the DFA to conduct a briefing with senators anytime soon and clarify some pressing matters.

Although Enrile said government need not worry about the move of Nokor since the Executive could not do anything about it, Legarda said they would want an update on the matter as (the rockets are) expected to pass through the country’s territory and one was projected to land at sea some 190 nautical miles east of Luzon.

Read full article @ www.tribuneonline.org

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] On sub judice and gag orders – RAPPLER.com

On sub judice and gag orders – RAPPLER – Philippine News | Multimedia | Citizen Journalism | Social Media.

by Edsel Tupaz, RAPPLER.com
January 26, 2012

  On Monday, an ABS-CBN news flash announced the House prosecutors’ plan to launch a social media campaign “to inform the public on latest developments in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.”

But Rep Romero “Miro” Quimbo, a spokesperson for the prosecution, was quick to admit that the plan was, in part, a reaction to the defense’s own social media. He was fearful that the prosecution, in his own words, is “getting left behind.”

The defense, through their own spokespersons and lawyers Tranquil Salvador III and Karen Jimeno, seems to have joined Quimbo at least in principle, stating that spokespersons of the defense and prosecution alike ought to inform the “ordinary people” about the “procedures” of the impeachment trial and “enhance public participation.”

Regardless of one’s angle or position, any social media campaign will implicate a parallel debate on who really is covered by the “gag order” issued by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

No less than Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, the presiding official, has warned the chamber (and, arguably, the public at large) that those who violate the impeachment court’s orders or rules may be cited for contempt.

A number of positions have been expressed by at least four camps – the prosecution, the defense, the Senate itself, and Malacañang spokesmen. Even between and among the senators there seems to be a weak consensus as to who is covered. Neither is there agreement on the very nature and substance of the speech that is prohibited or allowed.

Read article @ www.rappler.com

[In the news] Day One: Senate sweeps aside obstacles, signals intent for efficient and fair impeachment trial – InterAksyon.com

Day One: Senate sweeps aside obstacles, signals intent for efficient and fair impeachment trial
by Abigail Kwok, Karl John C. Reyes and Joseph H. Ubalde, InterAksyon.com
January 16, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – Day One of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona ended less than two hours after it started, as the Senate, convened as the impeachment court, set aside pending motions and signaled its intent to proceed with the historic trial.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile swiftly dismissed the most contentious issue – Corona’s plea for a preliminary hearing to prove the impeachment complaint defective. With the Chief Justice and his wife, Cristina, in the gallery, Corona’s lawyers argued that the articles of impeachment were railroaded at the House of Representatives and were not properly verified. After giving each party five minutes to defend or debunk the proposition, Enrile sided with the prosecution panel in its argument that the Senate’s duty is to try impeachment complaints, and not to determine the soundness of the same. That part of the process, Enrile agreed, lay with the House of Representatives, which had already transmitted the impeachment complaint to the upper House of Congress.

That in itself signaled that the first impeachment trial of a Chief Justice of the Philippines would proceed on what is expected to be a gripping weeks-long chapter in Philippine politics. Enrile later denied twin motions to cite in contempt prosecutors of Chief Justice Corona for prematurely disclosing material evidence outside the impeachment court even before trial started Monday.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[Press Release] Labor group demands end to delaying tactics and pass RH bill now – PM

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined civil society groups today in a press conference on the RH bill entitled, “TEN YEARS NA, SOBRA NA, PAGBOTOHAN NA!” to pressure both Houses of Congress, especially the anti-RH legislators to stop delaying the enactment of the RH bill.  Both Houses of Congress are due for recess next week and still the reproductive health (RH) bill has not been voted on.

“Further delaying the passage of the RH bill after more than 10 years is just too much.  We call on Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to put their foot down, end the debate and put the bill on vote.  The women, especially poor women, have waited long enough.  At marami nga ang hindi na nakapaghintay at namayapa na.  Pass the RH bill now,” declared PM Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda.

The PM secretary general explained that the anti-RH legislators are slaves of ignorance and feudal religious beliefs, and their outrageous views do not show real concern for the lives of Filipino women.

PRESS RELEASE
10 October 2011
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Contact Person: Judy Ann Miranda -0917-5570777; 0922-8677522

[In the news] Reproductive Health bill won’t allow abortion – Cayetano – www.philstar.com

Reproductive Health bill won’t allow abortion – Cayetano
By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Pia Cayetano yesterday defended a provision in the Reproductive Health (RH) bill that some critics claimed would effectively legalize abortion in the country.

“The intent of the RH bill is to uphold the Constitution and in no way tolerate or allow abortion to come in through the back road or behind the scene,” said Cayetano, principal sponsor of Senate Bill 2865, or the proposed ‘National Reproductive Health Act of 2011.’

Cayetano was reacting to the issues raised by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III in pointing out provisions in the proposed law that would in a way approve abortion.

Enrile said over dzBB radio yesterday that he is ready to debate anew this week over the provisions of the bill, including those that he described as “deception” since RH bill is disguised as a health measure.

“I am tracing history where the laws started so that the public may know. What is baffling here is, I am wondering why the press – both print and media – are not reporting on these issues as they should, and in the same way as they report on anomalies (in government),” Enrile said. Enrile suggested the interest is not that much or there were attempts to control the release of information through the media to prevent a thorough discussion on the issues.

“You know this RH bill, in my impression, it’s a deception,” Enrile said.  –With Helen Flores

“They are projecting it as a health bill. If it’s a health bill, it should discuss sickness, and cure. What are the medicinal values of condom, IUV, and birth control pills? What are those injectibles, other than safe, legal, effective family planning products and supplies? If this is a health bill, why are these terminologies in this bill?” he asked.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[Press Release] Senate approves ratification of Rome Statute on final reading

Press Release – Senate approves ratification of Rome Statute on final reading.

The Senate approved on third and final reading the resolution concurring in the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s first permanent tribunal for war crimes.

Garnering 17 affirmative votes, one negative vote and no abstension, Senate Resolution No. 546 was approved today.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who registered the negative vote, said that the resolution might impede soldiers from the carrying out their duties and that it might “expose Philippine Presidents to all kinds of suits where they will have to spend their own money, personal fortunes to defend themselves, and the worries that accompany them while they await the verdict which is outside our normal forum.” SRN 546 concurred in the ratification of the Rome Statute transmitted by President Benigno Aquino III to the Senate last February 28. Under the treaty, the ICC can step in when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice for the core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or crimes of aggression.

The Philippines was one of the countries that drafted the treaty in 1998.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, sponsor of SRN 546, said the Rome Statute was the most important institutional innovation since the founding of the United Nations.

The senator said that if a state becomes a party to the Rome Statute, any past leader could be investigated and prosecuted if he commits a core crime, particularly if he is the head of state, member of the national legislature, or government official at a similarly high level.

“If the state is already investigating or prosecuting its own head of state or similar official, the Court will not intervene. But if the state is unwilling or unable to prosecute, then the Court will try the case in The Hague,” Santiago said.

Under Article 28 of the Rome Statute, the military commander will also assume command responsibility for crimes committed by forces under his command and control.

Santiago said the ICC will hold persons, except minors, individually responsible, unlike the International Court of Justice which punishes only states.

She said the treaty will also put the Philippines in a better position to protect Filipino Overseas Workers against crimes against humanity when they work abroad.

“By concurring in the ratification of the Rome Statute, the Philippines will help the Court to end the culture of impunity, and affirm our position as a leading human rights advocate in Asia,” Santiago said.

With the Senate concurrence in ratification of the Rome Statute, the Philippines becomes qualified to nominate a Filipino as one of the 18 judges of the ICC.

[Press Release] ICC would only exercise jurisdiction over a crime when a country has become a states party – PCICC

The Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court stresses that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that passed the second reading of the Senate yesterday is a “forward looking treaty that would only exercise jurisdiction over a crime when a country has become a states party.”

PCICC national coordinator, Rebecca E. Lozada, said the hypothetical situations that were raised during the interpellation that followed the sponsorship speeches should not be misinterpreted to mean that the Court will have jurisdiction on past crimes. The hypothetical arrest of retired army major general Jovito Palparan for his alleged crimes was raised by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“The ICC does not have retroactive jurisdiction. It may only consider crimes committed after the Rome Statute has come into force in a States Party. That requires that the Philippine Senate first concurs with the ratification of the treaty and deposits the instrument of ratification to the United Nations. The ratification will come into force 30 days after the deposit is made,” Lozada said.

She noted that Senator Miriam predicated her responses with the statement that “The procedure will be that the Philippines, which should be at that time a state party, would have primary jurisdiction.”  (Underscoring ours)

Lozada explained further that the qualification “which should be at that time a states party” should not be lost even though the Senator focused on the principle of complementarity in the treaty. The principle says that national courts have primary jurisdiction over cases. The ICC will only step in when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate and try crimes.

The voting for the Senate concurrence to the Rome Statute has been scheduled for August 22. “The Philippine Coalition expects a strong yes vote. We congratulate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Senator Loren Legarda for supporting the International Criminal Court in their sponsorship speeches and for the senators who approve their committee report for voting against impunity,” Lozada further said.  #

Authenticated by Claudette Arboleda, 0922-8307748

Please contact for details MS. REBECCA E. LOZADA, 0917-5362638

Background: The ICC is the world’s first, permanent international court to prosecute war crimes,
crimes against humanity, and genocide. There are currently 116 ICC  States Parties.  Central to the
Court’s mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if
national legal systems are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide,
crimes against humanity, and  war crimes.

There are currently six active investigations before the Court: the Central African Republic; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, the Sudan; Uganda, Kenya and Libya. The ICC has publicly issued 18 arrest warrants and nine summonses to appear. Three trials are ongoing. The ICC Prosecutor recently requested authorization from Judges to open an investigation in Côte d’Ivoire. His office has also made public that it is examining eight other situations on four continents, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, and Palestine.

The PCICC was initiated by major human rights organizations and leading figures in international law in the country. Among the individual members are human rights defenders and legal luminaries. The organizational members include the Amnesty International-Philippines, Ateneo Human Rights Center, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, PhilRights, Medical Action Group, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Women’s Legal Bureau, and WEDPRO.

[In the news] 13 measures tackled in 2nd Ledac meeting – www.sunstar.com.ph

13 measures tackled in 2nd Ledac meeting

MANILA (Updated 4:05 p.m.) — President Benigno Aquino III presented 13 priority measures before the members of Congress during the second Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting Tuesday.
One of the measures Aquino wanted to be prioritized by Congress is the highly-debated Responsible Parenthood (RP) bill.

In a press briefing after the four-hour meeting, the President said the executive made several amendments to the measure and will make it acceptable to all sectors, particularly to the Church.

Some of the changes he cited were the provision of setting the ideal size of a family, appropriate age for sex education, and the access to artificial contraception methods.

“We try to remove certain issues that can be contentious. We had at least 10 amendments to the measure,” he said.

He added that they agreed to fund the natural family planning and the values formation should be sensitive to the religious affiliation.

Aside from the RP bill, among the measures tackled at the Ledac were:
* Human Security Act of 2007
* An Act Amending the People’s Television Network Rural Electrification Program
* An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products
* An Act Providing for the Delineation of the Specific Forest Limits to Public Domain
* An Act Granting Broader Protection for Consumers
* Bills on Protecting Individual Personal Data in Information and Communications Systems in the Government and in the Private Sector
* An Act Reorganizing the Philippine Statistical System
* An Act Imposing Stiffer Penalties for Stealing or Tampering Government Risk Reduction and Preparedness Equipment, Accessories and other Facility Items
* An Act Providing for Additional Benefits and Protection to the Househelpers
* An Act Expanding the Coverage of the Science and Technology Scholarship
* Twenty Percent Balanced Housing

President Aquino said he expects “expeditious” passage of the bills he prioritized in Congress.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, meanwhile, declined to promise for the “smooth sailing” passage of Aquino’s priority measures, particularly the RP bill.

“With regards to the RP bill, I cannot assure that we passed the version. It will take a full-blown debate in the Senate. But with regards to the proposals of the President we will have to look at them very closely,” Enrile said.

For House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, he said the Congress will give “the same attention” to the new sets of bills regarded as priority by the President.

In relation to the non-inclusion of the Freedom of Information, Aquino said the technical working group he tasked to study the bill still needs to discuss certain matters to both chambers of Congress and various stakeholders. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

[From the web] Senate passes People’s Survival Fund vs climate change – www.senate.gov.ph

The Senate has passed on second reading the People’s Survival Fund bill authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Enrile said the fund is allocated specifically for climate change adaptation efforts.
“The PSF is for local government units and communities that today stand at the frontline of the climate crisis. It is a fund that intends to provide incentives for early adaptation actions by dedicating finances for local resilience-building needs.”

The Senate President observed that vulnerable Filipino communities, particularly women from farming communities, “stand in the frontline of the greatest crisis our world has ever faced.”

The veteran senator said that “development planning must no longer be conducted in vertical silos, where issues like climate change are treated as sectors rather than as drivers of the entire development process. Doing so will create more momentum in the reform of risk governance and coherence in policy making.”

Enrile added that the urgent need is to “arrest the governance chaos prevailing currently over the administration of climate finance, so that monies can flow to national priorities and to those who need funding support the most.”

According to Enrile, “It is not enough to name the problem. We need to make the right investments now–in effort as well as in the redirection of public finance.” The Senate President observed: “Change has to begin with changes in our thinking. It is time for us to distinguish disasters that are episodic in character from slow onset impacts induced by climate change, which may impose even greater, more enduring calamities on our people.”

Enrile pointed out that government intervention on climate change and disaster risk reduction should be “more targeted” to reflect prevailing conditions in the country.

He noted that the rains of June and July which inundated towns and cities in the Visayas and in Mindanao again caused the loss of lives and the destruction of properties and sources of livelihood in those parts of the archipelago. “Adaptation finance should always be seen as an investment, and not a cost,” Enrile said.

“We need to scale up innovative local initiatives and the first step is for national government to establish a fund dedicated to local governments and communities,” Enrile said.
The PSF bill will be deliberated upon by the Senate on third and final reading before it is sent to the Lower House for approval.

source: http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2011/0811_enrile1.asp

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