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Senators insist on mandatory ROTC despite lack of manpower for program

Senators insisted Wednesday to make the Reserve Officers Training Corps mandatory even if the Department of National Defense warned that there might not be enough military personnel to man the program......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarJan 25th, 2023

Up to 2M reservists eyed once ROTC becomes mandatory

There could be about two million reservists who will be able to augment the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines every year if the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps becomes mandatory again. This was bared by Major General Joel Alejandro Nacnac, Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservists and Retiree Affairs of the AFP, over the weekend during the opening of the National Reservists Week. “Every year, if ROTC becomes mandatory, we expect an additional two million students from all of the universities,” Nacnac told the reporters in an interview. He said projected servicemen from ROTC will be classified as a “standby reserve”—which is mobilized only in times of national emergency or war. The AFP reserve force is currently at 1.2 million as of June 2023, which is composed of over 71,000 “ready reservists,” more than 15,000 affiliated units from other organizations and institutions, and 1.1 million standby reservists—with most of them from the Philippine Army. The ready reservists are called at “any time to add to the regular forces.” The National Reservist Week is the AFP’s annual activity of the “purposely to widen the Reserve Force manpower build-up and for the existing reservists to be accounted.” The event also provides reservists an update on the current AFP policies and directives with regard to the Reserve Force Development Programs as well as establish a robust operational Reserve force by way of checking their individual readiness in order to provide support to the Regular Force to fulfill its mandate. The bill requiring ROTC for students enrolled in at least two years of an undergraduate degree is pending in the Senate plenary. On the other hand, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa the government may allot P4.2 billion for free uniforms yearly if the proposed mandatory ROTC program becomes law. “If it will materialize, every year we’re going to budget P4.2B for uniforms alone for cadets,” he said in a recent hearing on the budget of the Department of Science and Technology and its attached agencies. Dela Rosa also made a recommendation that ROTC uniforms should be locally sourced. The Philippine Textile Research Institute welcomed the senator’s suggestion. The post Up to 2M reservists eyed once ROTC becomes mandatory appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2023

Students to PBBM: Focus on inflation, education, public transport

Mau Manuel, a Gen-Z college student, asked what he wanted to hear from the second State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. today, said the government should focus on inflation, which is hurting a lot of Filipinos. “Siguro, iyong i-prioritize talaga 'yung inflation ng prices,  kasi 'yun talaga ang currently natin na nararamdaman,” the 21-year-old college student told the Daily Tribune. In June, inflation was at 6.7 percent, a decrease from May's 7.4 percent. Manuel added that it is better for Marcos Jr. to prioritize first the country’s issues rather than his foreign trips. “I think mag focus na lamang siya sa bansa,” he said. “Kasi laging pangako siya ng pangako na may purpose 'yung travel yet wala naman akong naririnig na bumabalik (He always makes promises about the purpose of his travel but we don't seem to be gaining anything from it.)” Marcos Jr. had a total of 11 foreign trips since he started his six-year term last 30 June 2022, and is scheduled to go to Malaysia on 25 July. Education problems Meanwhile, some student-leaders urged the administration to address the root cause of problems in the education sector. “Bilang isang mag-aaral, nakakadismaya na ang edukasyon ay nagiging pribelehiyo na" (As a student, I am dismayed that education has become a privilege), said Marie Nerona, a 20-year-old college student, adding that the inaccessibility to free and quality education compromises the future of marginalized children in the country. “Karapatan natin ito, ngunit ang kakulangan sa pagtalakay ng isyu sa pagdaan ng panahon ay nagiging hadlang upang magkaroon o makamit ang kalidad na edukasyon para sa lahat” (We have a right to education, but the lack of discussion on the issue prevents us from achieving quality education for all), she stressed. With myriad problems bedeviling the educational system like the controversy over ROTC (in 2022, Marcos Jr. included the return of the mandatory ROTC in his legislative agenda), lack of resources in public schools and tuition increases, the Nerona said she is looking forward to how the President will address education in his speech. Transport challenges A student-commuter also voiced out his concerns over the country's transport system, an urgent problem that he said the President should address on his second year in office. Ashley Cruz, a college student who commutes going to school, cited the two main problems in the country’s transport system -- the phaseout of  traditional jeepneys and the daily traffic. “Hindi naman urgent ang pagbabago ng jeep dahil marami pa rin namang sumasakay sa nakagisnang jeep” (The jeepney mordernization program is not urgent since many still ride the traditional jeepneys), the 21-year-old college student told the Daily Tribune. Last March, transport sector groups held a week-long strike against the move to phase out traditional jeepneys. Cruz  also proposed that public utility vehicles, often blamed for traffic in major roads, should be given their own dedicated lane. In order for these problems to be solved, the government should conduct surveys among Filipino commuters and not only base their decisions on government agencies’ suggestions, said Cruz. “Dapat pakinggan nila ang kanilang pinag seserbisyuhan" (They should listen to the public they serve), she added.   The post Students to PBBM: Focus on inflation, education, public transport appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023

House of Representatives opens second regular session, discusses priority measures

Led by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the House of Representatives commenced its second regular session on Monday, just hours before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s second State of the Nation Address. Romualdez stated that the government remains steadfast on the 20 legislative measures approved during the second Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). LEDAC approved the following bills namely: • Amendments to Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law • National Disease Prevention Management Authority • Internet Transactions Act or E-commerce Law • Health Emergency Auxiliary Reinforcement Team (HEART Act) • Virology Institute of the Philippines • Mandatory ROTC and NSTP • Revitalizing the salt industry • Valuation reform • E-government and e-governance • Ease of paying taxes The house speaker also emphasized that the National Government Rightsizing Program, Unified System of Separation Retirement and Pension of MUPs, and the Health Emergency Auxiliary Reinforcement Team (HEART) Act are among the equally important priority measures that the government strive to pass this year. 23 senators and 311 house members were in attendance on the first day of the regular session.     The post House of Representatives opens second regular session, discusses priority measures appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023

Senators debunk hazing link to ROTC

Proponents of the revival of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program in the Senate balked at calls from militant groups to scrap the proposed mandatory course, which they warned puts students at risk of hazing......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2023

Progressive groups: Youths are facing ‘educational crisis’

Progressive groups have raised concerns over what they are calling an educational crisis facing the youth. They argue that this crisis is threatening the right to free and quality education. During the 160th commemoration of Andres Bonifacio's birth, Anakbayan Southern Mindanao spokesperson Beverly Gofredo highlighted the low allocation for state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the proposed budget for 2024. Gofredo stated that this has resulted in budget cuts for 36 out of 117 SUCs, including the University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UP-Min) and the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) in the Davao Region. In response to these concerns, various groups staged a protest in Davao City, calling for the government to address the issue. The groups also expressed their opposition to the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and the attacks on academic freedom. Additionally, they called for the government to halt the implementation of the Jeepney Modernization Program and to declare an unconditional ceasefire in Palestine. The rally in Davao City was reported to have been peaceful, with no untoward incidents......»»

Category: newsSource:  sunstarRelated NewsNov 30th, 2023

7 of 10 Filipinos back reinstatement of ROTC – survey

More than 70 percent of the population, or seven out of 10 people, support the move to reinstate the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, a nationwide online survey conducted by research and analytics firm Capstone-Intel Corp. found......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 8th, 2023

Better sports facilities pushed

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, I am saddened by the dilapidated state of the country’s iconic sports facilities. The Philippine Institute of Sports Multi-Purpose Arena, popularly known as PhilSports Arena, has come a long way from the time it was built in 1985 to house the Philippine Basketball Association until the league moved out in 1993 due to the lack of maintenance of the venue. The last time it was renovated was in 2019, when the country hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games. Among PhilSports Arena’s main facilities are the Multi-purpose Arena, Swimming Center, and Football and Athletic Stadium. While the arena was greatly enjoyed as a sports facility, it also served as a temporary shelter for evacuees after Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng struck the Philippines in 2009, adding to the facility's wear and tear. A quick look at the PhilSports Arena and the other sports facilities nationwide should make us realize that we should invest more in rehabilitating our iconic sports facilities. As I have suggested during the budget deliberations in the Senate, prioritizing funding for sports facilities would have been better than putting flood control projects in areas with little to no population. This concern about the support we are providing our athletes has motivated me to author and co-sponsor Republic Act No. 11470, which established the National Academy of Sports at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. In collaboration with the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Education, NAS now offers a specialized secondary education program focused on sports where students can study and train simultaneously. I have also filed the Philippine National Games bill, which aims to provide a structure for a more comprehensive national sports program, linking grassroots sports promotion to national sports development by having a mini Olympics regularly. Providing opportunities to our youth will help develop their potential in sports but will also help keep them away from vices such as illegal drugs. I continue to support establishing sports-related programs and infrastructure to divert the youth from the lure of addiction and criminality. This is also part of my three-pronged approach to combat illegal drugs in the Philippines – law enforcement, rehabilitation, and prevention. Yesterday, I witnessed the Philippine ROTC Games 2023 Luzon Qualifying Leg opening ceremony held at Cavite State University – Indang Campus in Indang, Cavite. With Sen. Francis Tolentino, I encouraged our young cadets who participated in various competitions to get into sports and stay away from drugs. I have also remained faithful to my promise to visit and help our fellow Filipinos in most parts of the country. On 16 September, we attended the groundbreaking of a Super Health Center in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. We also visited the town of Damulog, where I inspected projects I have supported, such as a public market, road concreting project, evacuation center, solar street lights, and a multipurpose building. Later that day, we also attended the 25th Anniversary of Public Safety Basic Recruit Course Class 1998-Alpha at Acacia Hotel in Davao City. On 15 September, we attended a meeting of state universities and colleges leaders held in Davao City and hosted by Commission on Higher Education Chair Prospero de Vera. The night before, we also joined leaders from the CHEd, the University of the Philippines System, and various SUCs to honor the appointment of Atty. Angelo Jimenez, a fellow Mindanaoan, as the 22nd President of the University of the Philippines. We took the opportunity to voice our commitment to elevating the standard of education nationwide. This is also the reason why Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access To Quality Tertiary Education Act, was enacted into law during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Today, we continue to pursue this further as I co-authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1360, which aims to widen the reach of the law further. We visited Bislig City in Surigao del Sur to participate in its 23rd Charter Day festivities. We handed out grocery packages to 32 newlywed couples during a community wedding and inaugurated the country’s 159th Malasakit Center at the Bislig District Hospital. This is the seventh Malasakit Center in the Caraga region and the 40th in Mindanao. Our team also provided direct aid, including grocery packs, to 129 patients and 191 front liners, including security guards, utilities, and hospital staff. On 15 September, my office also attended the groundbreaking of Super Health Centers in New Washington and Malay in the province of Aklan. Meanwhile, we continue to support livelihood programs, especially those that can help people experiencing poverty overcome crises. Through our support, the Department of Trade and Industry provides livelihood kits to qualified beneficiaries affected by calamities and teaches them how to grow their businesses for the benefit of their families. Among those we have helped are 20 from Dipaculao, Aurora; 57 from Sanchez Mira and Abulog, Cagayan; 100 affected by the earthquake in Montevista and New Bataan, and 50 in Nabunturan in Davao de Oro; 196 in Malalag and Sulop, Davao del Sur; 20 in Mangatarem, Pangasinan; 21 victims of Typhoon Egay in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato; 132 shear line victims in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental; and 36 beneficiaries from Lutayan and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos City. We also continue to support the National Housing Authority’s distribution of emergency housing assistance to disaster victims so they can purchase roofing, nails, and other home repair materials. We assisted beneficiaries, including 85 fire victims in Imus City, Cavite. Meanwhile, my office helped the 65 fire victims in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. We also provided assistance to 75 TESDA graduates in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. We also distributed additional support to workers who lost their jobs, beneficiaries of the TUPAD program of the Department of Labor and Employment, including 413 in Talibon, Bohol, and 150 in Plaridel, Bulacan. We also aided 333 poor residents in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro; and 234 in Antipolo City, Rizal. Together, let us continue bringing government services closer to Filipinos in need – from better sports facilities more accessible healthcare services, and implementing various programs to help uplift communities affected by crises. The post Better sports facilities pushed appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2023

Tolentino hopes Congress will pass mandatory ROTC seen

After the successful staging of the Philippine ROTC Games 2023 in Mindanao, Sen. Francis Tolentino expressed yesterday his optimism that the two-year mandatory Basic Military and Police Training program in college would be passed in Congress......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2023

CA confirms Brawner, 29 military officers

The Commission on Appointments, led by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, confirmed Wednesday the ad interim appointment of Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rank of four-star general and the nomination of other 29 generals, flag officers, and senior military officers. Zubiri lauded the soldiers for their loyalty to the Philippine flag and their willingness to make sacrifices for the country. “Once again, you are the vanguards of democracy in our country. We cannot have hearings today, we cannot have these institutions in place without the brave men and women of the Armed Forces,” Zubiri said. During the bicameral CA deliberation of his appointment, Brawner vowed the AFP military officials are ready to defend and protect the country and Filipino people against any security threats. Senator Risa Hontiveros started the deliberation by asking Brawner about his primary objectives intended to be accomplished through the AFP's revolving door policy and Republic Act 11939. Brawner responded by enumerating his priority thrusts for the armed forces embodied in an acronym U.N.I.T.Y, which stands for unification, normalization, territorial defense, internal security operations and youth programs. Brawner said the AFP will focus on the the normalization of the Bangsamoro region, particularly the decommissioning, disarmament and reintegration of the former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “Now that we believe that we are winding down with our internal security operations, we will have to sustain the gains that we had,” he added. Brawner also noted that the AFP will have to recalibrate its doctrines, training and the entire organization in order to be able to cope with the demands of defending the country’s territory. The AFP, he added, will focus on developing the Filipino youth through programs such as the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Brawner said the AFP will make sure that those who will handle the ROTC activities “are prepared and are professional” to prevent a repeat of abuses, including grades for sale, hazing and maltreatment of students. “We are anticipating the passing of that bill for the mandatory ROTC. Naghahanda na po ang inyong armed forces and we want to make sure that we will not repeat the mistakes that we had, the abuses that happened during the past when we had the ROTC program,” he said. On sending military officers to China Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino scrutinized the AFP’s engagements with China, particularly the sending of senior officials and cadets to Chinese military schools. Brawner explained that the Philippines’ military-to-military relationship with China is covered by a memorandum of agreement on Defense Cooperation that was forged in 2004. “That is why we are allowed to send officers to China to study and vice versa, they are sent here because we find value in sending our officers abroad not just to China but in fact to so many countries in order for them to train and to bring back the knowledge that they gain so that we can learn from them and probably apply the best practices that they are applying in other countries,” he said. However, Brawner noted that the AFP is currently studying the revisitation of the memorandum following the blocking and water cannon actions by  Chinese vessels against Philippine ships last 5 August in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. “I ordered the temporary stop to sending officers to China. Just last week there was a communication, an invitation from China for us to send cadets to China to join a conference of cadets from all over the world,” he said. Tolentino urged Brawner to provide updates on the results of the study. Senator Imee Marcos also pushed for the local production and procurement of firearms and equipment for the AFP to lessen the country's dependence on foreign suppliers for its national defense. Brawner said the AFP is eyeing the revival of the country’s Self-Reliant Defense Posture program. Meanwhile, the number of military personnel filing for early retirement has increased due to the bill on the reform of the pension system for military and uniformed personnel. "Tumaas po 'yung nagfa-file ng early retirement dahil nga po they are anticipating na kapag lumabas yung batas, 'yung unang version po, they are basing it on the early versions (The number of personnel filing for early retirement increased because they are anticipating the law on the reform of the MUP pension system. They are basing it on the early version),” the AFP chief. "Gusto nila na mapaloob pa sila sa lumang sistema (They want to be covered by the old system). They want to avail of the old system wherein they will receive one-rank higher pay when they retire and indexation,” he added. However, Brawner said there is no cause for concern as many Filipinos are willing to join and apply for the AFP service. "The alarming situation would be 'yung mawawala po 'yung ating senior non-commissioned officers. So kung puro bata naman yung ating Armed Forces, it will not be a healthy organization (The alarming situation would be when our senior non-commissioned officers leave the AFP. So we will be left with mostly young personnel, it will not be a healthy organization),” Brawner said, noting that the military organization also needs the leadership of its non-commissioned officers. According to Brawner, he already advised AFP personnel “to just wait for the final version of the law before making a decision on their retirement.” He added that soldiers are always willing to sacrifice a portion of their pay for the country's benefit. Brawner stressed the Department of National Defense has developed a plan that would enable the AFP to generate pension funds, including utilizing available real estate assets. The post CA confirms Brawner, 29 military officers appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 30th, 2023

Grumbling mounts

There continues to be discontent among certain sectors regarding the proposed policy on military pensions, and now there is another idea floated to scrap the free college education. Just like a low rumbling sound of thunder, affected sectors are grumbling over Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno’s statement that the free access to state university education is “unsustainable” — which is indicative of a potential effort to repeal a landmark legislation enacted during the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who appointed Diokno as Budget and Management secretary and then Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor. For six years as a member of Duterte’s economic team, we were oblivious to Secretary Diokno’s opposition to Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017. Straight from the horse’s mouth during a forum organized by the University of the Philippines School of Economics on 19 August, he said the law is anti-poor since “there are more poor people who do not attend college.” To say that subsidizing college education really “consumes a lot of funds” is irresponsible, anti-Filipino and anti-development. RA 10931 was embraced by Filipinos during a period when the financial situation of the government appeared stable. The blame for becoming indebted to finance the efforts to control the pandemic falls neither on the people nor on the national government. Fast forward to post-pandemic, there is no convenient excuse for sacrificing human investment through debt for education to support lavish government expenditures in the wake of the national government pronouncements that the gross national product increased to P5.643 billion in the second quarter of 2023 from P5.592 billion in the first quarter of 2023. Truth be told, 2.46 million students were beneficiaries of a free college education during the academic year 2021-2022. It is not only they who are reaping the rewards of one of the “most long-lasting” legacies of former president Duterte’s administration, but their families, communities, and the country. Jade Baguna, a Tertiary Education Subsidy or TES program graduate in Social Work, cannot help but share the positive impact of the policy on his life and his family. Despite facing challenges like long walks to and from school and a meager weekly allowance during high school, the program enabled him to complete his degree, achieve the eighth position in the board examination, and become a Social Work instructor. The Finance Secretary may have lost his train of thought that investing in free college education has long-term economic benefits. A well-educated workforce is crucial to driving innovation, technological advancements, and economic growth. By providing access to higher education, the country can nurture a pool of skilled professionals who will contribute to various industries, drive entrepreneurship and attract investments. At a time when the need to rejuvenate an economy is paramount, scrapping free college education may limit the availability of qualified workers, hinder economic development and reduce global competitiveness. One of the most compelling arguments for a free college education is that it promotes equal opportunity and social mobility. By removing financial barriers, individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds can pursue higher education based on merit and potential rather than financial means. This ensures that talented and motivated students, regardless of their background, have a fair chance to improve their lives and contribute to society. Sec. Diokno’s sustainability concerns sparked a debate. Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Prospero de Vera said there is nothing better than for a country to invest in its young people and produce highly skilled manpower. “It’s the best anti-poverty strategy. You educate an individual, you make him employable, and you make sure the poverty stops with him or with her,” he said. For Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez, taking out the scholarship program is synonymous with seeing a decay of education in our country. “Education is the great emancipator of people from the bondage of poverty. With education you are able to move forward with your family,” he said. Senator Francis Tolentino has this to say: “Perhaps the lack of money of the national government should not be the reason why they cannot be given the opportunity to study. Education is a basic human right. We need to provide our youth with the necessary basic tertiary education.” Higher education provides a holistic learning experience and fosters personal growth and critical thinking. It promotes civic engagement, social responsibility, and the development of well-rounded citizens. By scrapping free college education, we risk limiting these benefits and creating a society that is less educated, less informed, and less equipped to tackle complex societal challenges. Time and again, it pays to revisit Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Access to education should not be seen as a privilege but as a fundamental right. In other words, recognizing education as a human right implies that every individual is entitled to receive an education, without any form of discrimination, as it is legally protected. The post Grumbling mounts appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2023

Zubiri: Amend procurement law to ease defense purchases

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Monday expressed his support for the proposal to amend the 20-year-old Government Procurement Reform Act. “Government procurement reforms should lead to the expedited purchase of defense equipment the country needs to protect its territory, especially from the illegal incursions of China in the West Philippine Sea,” Zubiri said in a statement. He issued the statement after calling for the removal of bottlenecks in the government procurement of goods and services, directing his call to economic managers who appeared before senators last week to defend the proposed P5.768 trillion national budget for 2024. He said that the acquisition process can still be “stringent but speedy so that recipients will get the right equipment at the right price at the right time.” With the current state of the country’s Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard, the Senate chief underscored the need to procure the “best and not necessarily the cheapest equipment” to bolster the country’s defense capability. “There are several allies who would like to give us slightly used, not necessarily brand new, but good equipment so our law must be able to respond to this reality, otherwise the acquisition will not push through for lack of legal basis,” he said. “You know, when you buy an aircraft, even a 10-year-old aircraft, as long as it is well maintained, it can still be durable within the next 30 years,” he added. To complement the amendments to the government procurement law, Zubiri also pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 315 or the “Philippine Defense Industry Development Act,” a measure envisioned to promote the local production of defense equipment and materiel. The proposed measure seeks to revitalize the Self-Reliant Defense Posture program implemented in the 1970s to support the growing military hardware requirements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by incentivizing in-country enterprises to help grow the local defense industry. “By encouraging the growth of local enterprises supplying defense equipment and hardware to our AFP, we become less reliant on other countries to fill out our defense requirements. It will also generate employment for many Filipinos in the long run,” Zubiri said. The post Zubiri: Amend procurement law to ease defense purchases appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2023

Safeguarding waters

As an archipelago consisting of over seven thousand islands, the Philippines is expected to hold high regard for the security and well-being of its citizens who traverse its waterways, may it be in the seas, rivers, or lakes. Laguna de Bay, the country’s largest freshwater inland lake, should be treated no differently. In the middle of the lake is Talim Island, which is part of Binangonan, Rizal. With over 40,000 inhabitants, the only method of getting to the island is via motorboat. Last 27 July, the worst tragedy struck one of the boats plying this route, claiming 27 innocent lives. Since then, a lot of finger-pointing has taken place between government offices and local officials. It is a question of who is ultimately liable — the Philippine Coast Guard or PCG, the Maritime Industry Authority or Marina, the local boat operators association Talim Island Passenger Motorboat and Patrons Association, or the boat owners and the boat captain. At the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services held last 8 August, it appeared that all of them were at fault. Chaired by Senator Grace Poe, the committee brought together all the stakeholders in this disaster, including the victim-survivors and the families of the deceased. In her opening statement, Senator Poe immediately pointed out the alleged violations, from the reported lack of a license of the boat captain to the absence of safety measures such as the completion of a passenger manifest and the mandatory wearing of life vests. Senator Poe was diplomatic in allowing the PCG and Marina to make their respective presentations, and for the Binangonan mayor and the passenger survivors to share their accounts. Senator Raffy Tulfo, who filed his own Senate resolution to investigate this matter, was sharp in questioning the PCG and Marina. Since the boat captain was already in the orange uniform of a detainee, Senator Tulfo asked why the liable officers of PCG and Marina were not in jail as well. The PCG was gracious enough to admit its shortcomings and negligence, and it was commended for that. The PCG’s performance in saving the lives of those involved in the Romblon boat sinking incident, which happened shortly after the one in Binangonan, was likewise recognized. As for Marina, the officers testified on the presence of laws and regulations that require boats and ships to maintain certain specifications to ensure their safety, but these were not being implemented. It became evident that boat measurements and materials were not being followed, and applicants for permits were allowed to cut corners by “bribing” officials with what is known as “pangiti.” The boat captain himself testified under oath that he gave the PCG officer bananas worth P100 and an additional P50 in cash to fast-track the issuance of his safety permits. All this boils down to a flawed system where we have the required laws and regulations to safely keep our waterways, but we lack the budget, manpower, and infrastructure to implement them. At the Binangonan port, for instance, there is no presence of authorities, such as the PCG, since there is no outpost in sight. I went to this port last weekend to inspect it and meet with the locals since my company was the insurer of the passengers’ personal accident policy of the subject boat. Despite the violations of the policy, our company, Milestone Guaranty and Assurance Corp., disbursed financial assistance to the victims of this tragedy, for humanitarian considerations. There is a need to strengthen the PCG and Marina to allow them to fulfill their mandates. We hope these would be highlighted in upcoming budget hearings to avoid more deaths on our shores.   **** For comments, email him at darren.dejesus@gmail.com The post Safeguarding waters appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

Reinsert ‘imminent danger’ in Charter, Robin asks

The recent incident involving the use of a water cannon and dangerous maneuvers by China against Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal warrants an amendment to the Constitution, Senator Robin Padilla said Monday. During his manifestation following Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s privilege speech on China’s recent actions in the West Philippine Sea, Padilla pushed anew for amendments to the 1987 Constitution. “If we are reaching the point where the whole Senate is really frustrated about the actions of China, I want to remind you all that we also have a responsibility in these four walls of the Senate,” he said in Filipino. “We have a provision in our Constitution that we need to amend and that is about the declaration of martial law,” he said. He said the deletion of the phrase “imminent danger” in the 1987 Constitution, which had been an important factor in the declaration of martial law on 21 September 1972, must be corrected. “When are we going to act? That is my question. Do we have to wait for an invasion?” he asked. “Are we going to wait for them to land in Palawan before we amend the Constitution and insert back the phrase ‘imminent danger?’” he added. He continued: “The imposition of martial law does not mean we will have a flashback of what happened in 1972. It is not like that. Martial law is a thing utilized to organize the Filipino people correctly.”   ROTC Padilla stressed the importance of the legislation of the proposed mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps program for higher education institutions and technical-vocational students. “It is undeniable that China has military reservists. Maybe they will just walk on us or pee on us — we will get drowned already,” he said. “What I am saying to my beloved colleagues in the Senate is let us level our anger at China with an action like the mandatory (ROTC),” he added. He continued: “I am hoping that at least with the ROTC, let us prepare our fellow Filipinos. The same goes with the imminent danger.” The post Reinsert ‘imminent danger’ in Charter, Robin asks appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

Padilla invokes Martial Law to deal with China-WPS row

The recent incident involving the use of water cannon and dangerous maneuvers by China against Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal warrants an amendment in the country’s Constitution, Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla said Monday. In his manifestation during Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri’s privilege speech about China’s recent actions in the West Philippine Sea, Padilla pushed anew his desire to amend the 1987 Constitution. “If we are reaching the point where the whole Senate is really frustrated about the actions of China, I want to remind you all that we also have a responsibility in these four sides of the Senate,” he said in Filipino. “We have a provision in our Constitution that we need to amend and that is about the declaration of martial law,” he added. He pointed out the deletion of the phrase “imminent danger” in the 1987 Constitution. The provision was among the requirements for declaring martial law under the 1973 Constitution, but was no longer included in the new Charter.  The 1987 Constitution must be amended, he stressed, to bring back the "imminent danger" requirement. “When are we going to act? That is my question. Do we have to wait for an invasion?” Padilla demanded. “Are we going to wait for them to land in Palawan before we amend the Constitution and insert back the phrase ‘imminent danger’?” He continued: “The imposition of martial law does not mean we will have a flashback to what happened in 1972. It is not like that. Martial law is a thing we can use to organize the Filipino people correctly.” Padilla likewise stressed the importance of the proposed mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps program for higher education institutions and technical-vocational institution students. “It is undeniable that China has military reservists. Maybe they will just walk on us or pee on us — we will get drowned already,” he said. “What I am saying to my beloved colleagues in the Senate is, let us level our anger to China with an action like the mandatory [ROTC]. I am hoping that at least [with] the ROTC, let us prepare our fellow Filipinos. The same goes with the 'imminent danger' [provision].” The post Padilla invokes Martial Law to deal with China-WPS row appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

House to prioritize LEDAC-approved bills

The House of Representatives reconvened for the second regular session of the 19th Congress on Monday after a nearly two-month break. Speaker Martin Romualdez, leading the plenary, assured the Executive department that the legislature would prioritize the bills approved by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council or LEDAC during its second meeting. LEDAC-endorsed bills are in line with the Marcos government’s Agenda for Prosperity or socio-economic policy. “We face the remaining bills in the LEDAC priority list with enthusiasm and optimism, steadfast in our determination to transform these initiatives into concrete laws for the benefit of our fellow Filipinos,” Romualdez told his peers during his speech hours before the President delivered his second State of the Nation Address. Three hundred eleven congressmen responded in the roll call during the opening of the session. Negros Oriental Rep. Arnie Teves was not around due to his suspension. “Our unwavering aim is to realize them before the year ends. We stay committed to spurring economic growth, alleviating poverty, augmenting healthcare services, and fostering job opportunities for our fellow countrymen,” he continued. The House leader, cousin of the President, is referring to 20 LEDAC bills, namely, amendments to the BOT Law or Public-Private Partnership bill; National Disease Prevention Management Authority; Internet Transactions Act or E-Commerce Law; Health Emergency Auxiliary Reinforcement Team Act, formerly Medical Reserve Corps; Virology Institute of the Philippines; Mandatory ROTC and National Service Training Program; Revitalizing the Salt Industry; Valuation Reform; and E-Government and E-Governance. Completing the LEDAC list are the Ease of Paying Taxes Equally; National Government Rightsizing Program; Unified System of Separation/Retirement and Pension of Military and Other Uniformed Personnel; LGU Income: Classification; Waste-to-Energy Bill; New Philippine Passport Act;  Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers; National Employment Action Plan; Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act; Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas-endorsed Bank Deposit Secrecy; and Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act. Aside from the LEDAC, the House said it would keep its eyes on how the newly enacted New Agrarian Emancipation Act (RA 11953), inked by the President last 7 July, is being implemented. “It is equally imperative to address the issues confronting our agricultural sector in the soonest possible time. We will redouble our efforts to stop the smuggling of rice, sugar, and onions, which harms our farmers’ competitiveness and disrupts the agricultural value chain,” said Romualdez, among the principal authors of RA 11953. “We shall safeguard our farmers’ interests, ensure equitable market conditions, and foster sustainable farming methods to ensure our nation’s food security.” The law wrote off "all principal loans, unpaid amortization, and interest" of 610,054 agrarian reform beneficiaries totaling P57 billion from the time of the President's late father, Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. The post House to prioritize LEDAC-approved bills appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023

Marcos: War on drugs to continue — but with ‘new face’

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday said the country's fight against the illegal drug problem continues under his helm. "The campaign against illegal drugs continues—but it has taken on a new face. It is now geared towards community-based treatment, rehabilitation, education, and reintegration, to curb drug dependence among our affected citizenry," said Marcos during his second State of the Nation Address. Marcos mentioned that the government has effectively launched the "Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan" or BIDA Program, and established additional 102 Balay Silangan Reformation Centers nationwide. The government, he added, will relentlessly continue its fight against drug syndicates by "shutting down their illegal activities and dismantling their network of operations." "Unscrupulous law enforcers and others involved in the highly nefarious drug trade have been exposed. I will be accepting their resignations," the President said. Marcos vowed to install individuals with unquestionable integrity, and who will be effective and trustworthy in handling the task of eliminating the drug problem--which he described as a "dreaded and corrosive social curse." "We cannot tolerate corruption or incompetence in government," he added. Shortly before Marcos delivered his SONA, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa expressed hope that Marcos will pay attention to the illegal drug problem in the country during the remainder of his term. “Konting pansin lang. Sana mapansin lang ‘yung drug situation (Just a little attention. I hope the drug situation will be taken care of),” Dela Rosa said in an interview with reporters. Asked if the government is lacking the courage to fight the drug problem, Del Rosa said: “Iba talaga ‘yung manggaling sa pinaka-chief executive ‘yung pagpansin sa drug problem (It is really different if the chief executive himself will pay attention to the drug problem).” On the other hand, Dela Rosa said he believes Marcos will continue supporting the push for the mandatory revival of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in the Philippines. “He already mentioned the ROTC [program] during his first SONA. The ROTC bill is still pending, but I will continue pushing for it,” he added. Newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Gen Romeo Brawner Jr. has expressed his full support for the revival of the mandatory ROTC. Brawner earlier vowed that ROTC will be implemented accordingly and professionally by well-trained military handlers should it becomes legally mandatory. The military chief said the AFP will make sure that the cases of hazing, as well as physical and verbal abuse and other malpractices related to the ROTC in the past, won’t happen again in the future. “The AFP is preparing for proper and relevant conduct of the program in the future,” said Brawner. The post Marcos: War on drugs to continue — but with ‘new face’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 24th, 2023

AFP assures only well-trained professionals to handle mandatory ROTC

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will make sure that the Reserve Officers' Training Corps will be implemented accordingly and professionally by well-trained military handlers, especially should it becomes mandatory, newly-designated AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., said Friday. In a chance interview with reporters, Brawner cited the cases of hazing and physical and verbal abuse as well as other malpractices related to the ROTC in the past; hence, the AFP is preparing for proper and relevant conduct of the program in the future. “We are going to do away with that, by making sure that we have a professional core of soldiers and officers who will take care, take charge and manage the new program of the ROTC so ‘yun yung gusto nating gawin (that’s what we wanted to do), that is why right now,  we are already training our core of professionals, officers, enlisted personnel who will handle the ROTC,” he said. “Ayaw na natin maulit  ‘yung nangyari noong nakaraang programa ng ROTC (We don’t want the old practices to happen again in the ROTC program).” While the AFP is still waiting for the legislation of the ROTC bill, Brawner said there are ongoing preparations already in place. “The way that I understand it, it will not be the  Department of National Defense who will be the lead agency rather it will be DepEd. So but the implementation will be done by the Department of National Defense, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines. So on our part, we are now preparing,” he noted. ‘ “Looking at the past experience that we have in ROTC, there are abuses in the past.” Expressing his full support for the revival of mandatory ROTC, Brawner said it will prepare every Filipino youth not only to become soldiers “but to become good citizens” that are ready to fight “any challenge or any threat —whether it is man-made or natural calamities.” ROTC in the Philippines is currently being taken optional by tertiary students, through the NSTP STP Act of 2001, following the death of the University of Santo Tomas sophomore cadet Mark Welson Chua, who had exposed corruption in the university’s ROTC program. The bill seeking mandatory ROTC is currently being discussed in the Senate plenary. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as well as vice-president and Education Secretary, Sara Duterte,  earlier backed the revival of the program, making it mandatory for all Filipino students. The post AFP assures only well-trained professionals to handle mandatory ROTC appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 21st, 2023

Brawner officially takes over AFP helm focusing on 5 key areas

Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. on Friday officially took over the helm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, focusing his leadership on five priorities aligned with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for national unity. Brawner, speaking at the change of command and retirement ceremony in honor of outgoing AFP chief of staff, Gen. Andres Centino, at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, had laid down the priorities of his military leadership. “As I take the helm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, allow me to articulate the five areas where I wish to focus our efforts—for these focus areas, I would to keep in line with the president's call for national unity,” Brawner said. Using the acronym of unity, Brawner said the AFP will focus on the areas of unification, normalization, internal security operations, territorial defense, and youth. Under unification efforts, Brawner said the military will provide leverage on inter-agency coordination, links, and alliance to continue the whole of nation approach in addressing the pressing security concerns. The AFP will also give special attention to the normalization process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao particularly in the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as stipulated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law. In internal security operations, Brawner said the military will focus on the total annihilation of the remaining local terrorist groups and the communist terrorist group in the country. “We have to sustain the dividends of peace by making sure that there will be no resurgence of insurgency and terrorism in our country,” he added. The AFP will also heed Marcos’ earlier pronouncement of “not giving an inch of the Philippine territory,” he said, adding that “The AFP will endeavor to modernize its personnel, equipment, facilities, processes, and systems so that, so as to enable it to be a lethal and competent fighting force capable of defending our territory from external aggression.” Cyber warfare, he said, will also be included in the military’s priority lists of its modernization program—which is now on its third phase or Horizon 3. Expressing his full support for the revival of the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Brawner said the military will push for proper and relevant conduct of the ROTC's program. “This will also coincide with our efforts to develop our reserve force,” he added. “The AFP will do its share in developing our youth, the future leaders and citizens of our nation to be responsible and patriotic defenders of our national identity as a people and of our territorial integrity,” he added. During the ceremony, the DND awarded the Centino Legion of Honor with the rank of chief commander. PA spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the army is definitely expecting a movement of leadership in the organization but Brawner will remain as concurrent Army Commanding General while awaiting Marcos’ next appointee. “In the absence of any orders, he is still be considered the commanding general of the Philippine Army… You could perform two functions—wearing two hats at the same time,” Trinidad explained. Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense lauded the appointment of Brawner as the next AFP chief as it expressed confidence that the incoming AFP chief is an “excellent choice” to crucially lead the country’s continuing internal and external security operations. “We are confident that Lt. Gen Brawner will continue to exemplify excellence, innovation, and professionalism as he leads the AFP,” it said in a statement on Friday. The DND, likewise, wishes Centino in his new role as the presidential adviser on the West Philippine Sea. The post Brawner officially takes over AFP helm focusing on 5 key areas appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 21st, 2023

End callous practice

Airlines’ practice of excessive overbooking, as proven in previous seat sales with huge discounts that resulted in passengers being bumped off, carries stiff penalties if the aggrieved party is persistent enough. The Mandaue City regional trial court recently provided the precedent for complaints from the army of disgruntled flyers when it ordered Cebu Pacific Air to pay P500,000 in damages to Cebu 6th District provincial board member Glenn Soco who was bumped off his scheduled flight from Manila to Cebu. Mandaue City RTC Branch 55 Presiding Judge Ferdinand Rafanan ordered Cebu Pacific to pay moral damages of P200,000, exemplary damages of P200,000, and P100,000 in attorneys and litigation expenses. The catch for Soco is that it took 12 years before he received just compensation for his ordeal, which is a stretch that entailed legal expenses that many Filipinos cannot afford. The compensation may even be short of the amount spent to keep track of the case, including the lawyer’s fees. Soco’s case, however, will greatly contribute to halting the excesses of airline firms through the indiscriminate denial of the service promised to their clients. He sued the airline for “breach of the obligation to transport him,” which he claimed had caused him inconvenience, serious anxiety, physical suffering, and sleepless nights. In Soco’s recounting, he said that on 14 April 2011, he booked a Cebu-Manila roundtrip ticket on Flight 5J 574 going to Manila on 15 April 2011, and on Flight 5J 553 on 16 April 2011, at 10:10 a.m. for his return flight to Cebu. The local executive said his ticket for the flight was confirmed. For his return flight, he arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 and got in the queue for departing passengers. He showed his ticket to one of the ground crew to get his seat number, according to the particulars of the 13-page court decision dated 20 June 2023. Soco, however, was informed by the ground crew that he could not be accommodated on the flight and when he asked for an explanation when he got to the head of the line, the Cebu Pacific personnel could not provide a definite response. Passengers behind him were “egging him to step aside” so they could continue with the queue, according to the court ruling. The scene turned chaotic and caused Soco humiliation, “and he was allegedly able to capture it on his cellphone camera,” the court said. Due to the rebooking, Soco missed his board meetings as the owner of Mandaue Integrated Manpower Services Inc., Coffee Dream Company, and Powerline Human Resources Management Inc. A Cebu Pacific Air guest service manager was quoted in the court ruling as having confirmed that Soco was not able to board. The reason given was that “the system of the defendant airline showed full capacity and he could no longer be accommodated on the flight.” “In situations like this, the standard policy of the defendant airline is to look for other passengers who are willing to volunteer their seats in lieu of other passengers with confirmed tickets who could no longer be accommodated. Otherwise, the passenger will be offered an option to either take the subsequent flight or be given a refund,” the court said. Civil Aeronautics Board Economic Regulation 7 recognizes the practice of airline companies of overbooking that does not exceed 10 percent of the aircraft’s seating capacity. While overbooking is a globally accepted practice,  senators in a recent public hearing said systematic delays and cancellations are unacceptable, as well as the lack of appropriate mitigation services and crisis management personnel from the airlines who are supposed to handle complaints. What passengers get for their tribulation is more suffering from the complicated rebooking or refund procedure. The height of insensitivity of airlines is making customers talk to chatbots instead of customer service representatives to make their complaints. They can spend for robots but inconvenienced passengers are given chips and bottled water.   The post End callous practice appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2023

BSP insists on Anti-Financial Account Scamming, Bank Deposit Secrecy bills

  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has suggested adding a new measure to the priority bills of the Marcos administration that would give the BSP the power to open bank accounts suspected of being involved in money laundering and terrorism, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said on Wednesday. In a phone interview with reporters after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. convened the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council, Pangandaman said BSP wanted the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Bill and the Bank Deposit Secrecy Bill to be included in the administration's legislative priorities. "We are the only country left in the world that hasn't passed our bank secrecy. It was only Lebanon and the Philippines. But Lebanon passed it last year. So we need to have one. And the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act or the AFASA bill," Pangandaman said. Pangandaman explained that the Bank Deposit Secrecy bill would be beneficial in cases related to money laundering or when evidence and documents are required for court proceedings. She added the BSP would be able to share this information with various entities such as the Securities Exchanges Commission, the Department of Justice, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and other courts and agencies. On the other hand, the AFASA bill aims to act as a deterrent for cybercriminals, as explained by the Secretary. Pangandaman added that the bill would impose penalties on those who engage in these activities. She said that the bill is also being drafted in response to the increasing prevalence of hacking incidents. "I think this is when there are problems with phishing and money mules, which will be penalized by the law," Pangandaman said. Pangandaman provided a list of the key measures that the administration intends to pass by December 2023. These measures include: 1. Amendments of the BOT Law/PPP bill 2. National Disease Prevention Management Authority 3. Internet Transactions Act/E-Commerce Law 4. Medical Reserve Corps 5. Virology Institute of the Philippines 6. Mandatory ROTC and NSTP 7. Revitalizing the Salt Industry 8. Valuation Reform 9. E-Government/E-Governance Act 10. Ease of Paying Taxes 11. National Government Rightsizing Program 12. Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension of MUPS 13. LGU Income Classification 14. Waste-to-Energy bill 15. New Philippine Passport Act 16. Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers 17. National Employment Action Plan 18. Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act In a separate statement, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said they had a productive LEDAC meaning. " President Marcos was very participative, with his questions on the problems and bottlenecks in some of the bills,” Zubiri said. The post BSP insists on Anti-Financial Account Scamming, Bank Deposit Secrecy bills appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 5th, 2023