Archive for October, 2011

Bill to help household helpers to pursue their studies

Household helpers may pursue their dream of finishing school to find
higher paying jobs under a bill giving them a chance to complete their
studies while working as “kasambahays.”

Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay (Party-list, AVE), Vice-Chairperson of the
House Committee on  Higher and Technical Education, urged Congress to
fast track the approval of House Bill 5289 to help household helpers
pursue their education.

“As one of the vulnerable groups, household helpers are not usually
endowed with proper education. If ever, they acquired education it is
only in the primary or intermediate levels.  Without proper education,
they will find it difficult to climb the social ladder and improve
their lives,” Magsaysay, author of the bill, said.

Magsaysay said the bill mandates all government-owned educational
institutions to provide scholarship grants to deserving household
helpers after passing the qualifying examinations and other screening
requirements to be instituted by the Commission on Higher Education
(CHED), state universities and the Technical Education and Skills
Development Authority (TESDA).

Magsaysay said those who will qualify but would decide to enroll in
private educational institutions will get a 60 percent discount on the
tuition fees.

“All qualified household workers shall be exempted from the payment of
miscellaneous fees charged by the schools,” Magsaysay said.

Under the bill, household helpers are also required to submit an
authentic certification signed by their employers before taking
qualifying examinations.

The Labor Code of the Philippines defines domestic or household
helpers as those who render service in the employer’s home which is
usually necessary or desirable for the maintenance and enjoyment and
includes ministering to the personal comfort and convenience of the
members of the employer’s household, including services of, but not
limited to, babysitters, gardeners, yayas, cleaning ladies, laundry
women, and the like.

The bill mandates the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Skills and
Development Authority (TESDA) shall jointly formulate guidelines for
the availment of benefits under the proposed act.

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Prohibit children from riding motorcycles – solon

A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking to prohibit motorists from
carrying a child three years and below on motorcycles along national
highways.

Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (4th District, Manila) authored House
Bill 5345, which aims to provide safety measures for all riders and
passengers to avoid injury or fatality especially for children on
motorcycles.

However, the bill will not cover the provinces where there are no
considerable vehicular traffic and where motorcycles are the only
means of transportation.

Bonoan-David said recent accidents have occurred where children were
severely injured while riding on a motorcycle because these children
lack the development skills to pay attention and properly secure
themselves while riding.

“The State recognizes its role to maintain at all times the safety
and protection of children,” Bonoan-David said.

In invoking its power of parens patriae, Bonoan-David said the State
may exercise its authority to usurp the rights of the natural parent
or guardian and to act as parent of any child or individual, or an
incapacitated and dependent person who is in need of protection
against danger, risk to their lives and limbs.

Bonoan-David said during these times of rising oiI prices and
worsening traffic problems, many Filipinos are now using motorcycles
as their primary means of transport.

“These vehicles are easier to maneuver during heavy traffic and are
more fuel-efficient than cars.  However, motorcycles are considered
high-risk vehicles, both with respect to drivers and other motorists,”
Bonoan-David said.

Under the measure to be known as the “Motorcycle Safety Act for
Children,” violators will be slapped with a fine of P5,000 for the
first offense, P8,000 for the second offense and P10,000 for the third
and succeeding offenses.

The bill mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to formulate
the pertinent rules and regulations for the effective implementation
of the proposed act.

PNoy, DILG recognize City of Tagum’s excellent governance

PNoy, DILG recognize City of Tagum’s excellent governance

The City Government of Tagum has added another feather on its cap as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) conferred upon the city the 2011 Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award for Davao Region awarded by no less than President Benigno S. Aquino III and DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Local Government Code held recently at the PICC in Pasay City.

The Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award is given annually to all deserving local governments for their commendable performance in administrative governance, social governance, economic governance and environmental governance.

The criteria for the selection of the winner include the Seal of Good Housekeeping; a Local Government Performance Management System Overall Performance Index; acknowledged innovations; and awards or distinctions received by the city in the previous year.

In lieu of Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, City Councilor Alan Zulueta received the award consisting of a trophy and a cash prize of P2-million, along with City DILG Director Eliza P. Mendoza and Executive Assistant III Mrs. Delia B. dela Cruz.

Just recently, the city was also conferred with the Seal of Good Housekeeping, recognizing the city government’s excellent performance in local governance.

The SGH is a mechanism comprising a set of criteria aimed at LGUs with good performance in internal housekeeping, particularly in the areas of planning, sound fiscal management, transparency and accountability, and valuing performance management. Among the key components of the SGH criteria are compliance to the mandates of the Anti-Red Tape Act, as well as to the Transparency and Full Disclosure Policy of the DILG.

LGUs stamped with SGH should also have “no adverse” report from the Commission on Audit, which means that they should have complied with all the requirements of the government’s auditing agency.

Cayetano to AFP and PNP: Use your intel funds, put a stop to unrest and insurgency in Mindanao

Senate minority Alan Peter Cayetano lamented the seeming inability of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop the series of bombings and acts of terrorism in Mindanao despite the huge amount of intelligence funds made available to them.

The senator noted that in 2011 the AFP was given P124.397 million in confidential and intelligence funds while the PNP was given P270.029 million.

For the proposed 2012 budget, PNP’s budget is still pegged at P270.029 million while AFP’s budget is slated to increase to P136.397 million.

“With intelligence funds this big, why are these agencies still unable to get to the masterminds of these bombings and put a stop to continuing acts of terrorism in the country?” he asked.

The minority leader pointed out that the failure of government to stabilize peace and order particularly in Mindanao is one of the major factors why foreign investments and development of local economy continue to be hampered.

“If our own citizens do not feel secure in their own country, how can we expect investors to come in? If investors become scarce, how can we expect to boost the country’s economy?” he asked.

“Must we wait for a “VIP” to be harmed before our law enforcers intensify their intelligence efforts? I have no doubt our soldiers and policemen have the capability to act swiftly and effectively but why aren’t we seeing the results?” the senator asked.

Cayetano urged the leaders of both the PNP and the AFP to step up their intelligence gathering in order to justify the millions of funds they receive for this purpose.

“Show us that the taxpayers’ money is being used for its intended purpose. Show us the results Use your intelligence funds and safeguard our country better,” he said.

House to install additional e-voting gadget at the plenary hall

The House of Representatives will install an additional e-voting
interface gadget at the session hall to facilitate a more accurate and
faster system of voting on important matters.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd District, Negros Occidental) said former
House Speaker Prospero Nograles was responsible for the installation
of the electronic voting system interface gadgets in the session hall
during his term.

“The objective is to encourage lawmakers’ attendance and promote
efficiency in plenary procedures especially during voting on important
measures,” Benitez said.

Benitez said the 239 e-voting gadgets already installed at the session
hall run short of 46 gadgets since the chamber now has a total of 285
members.

Benitez said additional funding is needed for the installation of 46
additional e-voting interface gadgets and other electronic and cabling
requirements to enable its operation.

“The e-voting system allows for the immediate availability of
results, which shall be incorporated in the records of proceedings,
and provides for more statistical information on voting results for
analysis and information to the public,” Benitez said.

Benitez, author of House Resolution 1783 that calls on the House of
Representatives to review and evaluate the biometric electronic voting
system in the chamber, said many countries in Asia have already
installed and implemented the e-voting system in their parliamentary
session including  the National assembly of Thailand and the Korean
National Assembly.

The House of Representatives has started using the Biometric
Electronic Voting System during the resumption of its session in
January 28, 2008.

Benitez said the House Committee on Rules needs to convene an Ad Hoc
Committee to amend the House Rules with regard to the additional 46
interface gadgets which will be install at the plenary hall.

In 2008, the chamber decided to install the P15 million worth
biometric e-voting system at the plenary hall.

The project was awarded to the InfoBahn Inc. after a bidding which was
supervised by the Office of the Secretary General, the Office of the
Director General of the Congressional Planning and Budget Department
(CPBD) and the House Committee on Information and Technology.

Lawmaker seeks stiffer penalties for theft of cellular phones and computers

Concerned about the alarming rise in crimes against property, a
lawmaker has filed a bill urging Congress to impose higher penalties
for theft or robbery of cellular phones and other portable
communication gadgets.

“Reports from law enforcement agencies show an alarming high incidence
of thievery of these gadgets, especially cellular phones.  We have to
arrest this trend,” said Rep. Maria Evita Arago (3rd District,
Laguna), author of House Bill 5403.

Portable communication gadgets include, among others, cellular phones,
computers, two-way very high frequency (VHF) of ultra high frequency
(UHF) radios and personal digital cameras and other communication
equipment.

Arago said the increase of these criminal activities involving this
array of modern equipment or gadgets which unfortunately have fatal
consequences means there is an urgent need to protect our people.

“Furthermore, these equipment are easy to sell and fencing of these
criminally acquired items is now commonplace,” Arago said.

At present, Arago said the existing penalties under the Revised Penal
Code are insufficient to deter criminal activities of this nature and
pose a threat to the personal security of our people.

Under the proposed “Anti-Theft and Robbery of Portable
Telecommunication Devices and Portable Computers Act of 2011,” the
penal provision states that “any person convicted of the crime of
theft and robbery as defined under Chapters One and Three of Title Ten
of the Revised Penal Code of a portable communication device or
portable computer shall be punished by the penalty next higher in
degree than those respectively specified in the aforementioned
articles.  Provided, that the additional penalty specified herein
shall no longer be made applicable if the imposable penalty is in its
maximum period.”

“I believe that stiffer penalties will serve as deterrence to the
commission of these offenses and will help promote justice and public
order and safety,” Arago said.

The bill is now pending with the House Committee on Revision of Laws
chaired by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.

Bill to give financial assistance to OFWs

Lawmakers are urging Congress to enact a law granting financial
assistance to distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus (Party-list, Gabriela) filed
House Bill 5331 to alleviate the situation of distressed OFWs by
providing them financial assistance during their most difficult times.

“The laws are silent on the specific welfare services and benefits
aside from repatriation in cases of natural and man-made calamities in
host countries. Thus, in each and every case of collective involuntary
repatriation, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Board
decides on whether financial grant and what amount shall be given to
identified beneficiaries,” Ilagan said.

Citing a 2009 OWWA report, Ilagan said OWWA got P1.5 billion
collection as membership fees from 1,479,070 OFWs.

“The huge state exactions from OFWs in the form of compulsory
membership fee are not used mainly for the provision of services but
more for its operations and investment ventures,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan said a big number of OFWs has been displaced and repatriated
for various reasons including distressful situations such as abusive
employment, human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Under the bill, a distressed OFW will get P50,000 within seven days
after filing of application. The bill defines distressed OFWs as those
who lost their jobs and were forced by circumstances to return to the
country.

“Distressed OFWs include but not exclusively mean those who have been
sexually abused, those who have run away from their employers, those
who have been repatriated from host countries hit by natural and
man-made calamities, including civil disorders, those who have sought
refuge at Welfare Centers and those who have been found stranded
anywhere in host countries where they intended to seek employment,
whether documented or non-documented,” De Jesus said.

Under the bill, the financial assistance for distressed OFWs as
provided for in the bill shall form part of the OWWA program package
for distressed OFWs and shall be charged against the funds of the
agency.

The measure also penalizes any employee found to have caused the delay
of the release of the financial assistance for distressed OFWs within
seven days after filing of the application, ranging from 90-day
suspension to dismissal from the service.

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