Archive for January, 2012

Solons move to ensure minors’ welfare and protection

Lawmakers have filed a bill that seeks to ensure children’s welfare
and protection following reports of growing number of crimes, ranging
from robbery, murder, auto theft and drug-related offenses committed
by minors.

Buhay Party-list Reps. Mariano Michael Velarde, Jr. and William Irwin
Tieng authored House Bill 5671 to promote the general welfare of the
youth and protect them from acts, conditions, or influences that are
prejudicial to their development.

In pushing for the immediate approval of the bill, Velarde cited a
2009 report saying the government called upon mayors in Metro Manila
to deal with at least 233 destructive gangs composed mainly of minors
engaged in drug-related crimes.

“In that same report, a government official said in the third quarter
of 2008 alone, Metro Manila-based youth gangs committed at least 79
serious crimes ranging from robbery, inflicting physical injury on
another person, murder, auto theft, and payroll heists,” Velarde said.

“Cities of Lucena and Bacolod have recognized the problem of minors
frequenting Internet shops during class hours, prompting local
governments to enact ordinances that prevent such vice,” Velarde
added.

The measure, to be known as the Youth Welfare and Protection Act,
shall prohibit school children from loitering in public places outside
their school grounds/campuses during school hours and entering the
premises of all hotels, motels, lodging houses unless accompanied by
their parents/guardians or adult relatives.

“Videoke bars and beer houses shall not allow the entry of minors
whether they are accompanied by parents, guardians, elders or
relatives or not,” Velarde declared.

Under the measure, all newly formed youth organizations must apply
for accreditation from the office of the municipal or city mayor of
that particular place, with the recommendation of its youth and sports
council which is tasked to guide, monitor, and supervise youth
organizations.

“No person shall force, coerce, bully, or deceive any juvenile into
joining any organization, fraternity, sorority, gang, or association.
Recruiters must secure permission from the parents/guardians of the
child/juvenile being recruited,” Velarde said.

Tieng also cited a report from the Health Action Information Network
stating that Filipino youths start drinking alcohol at the age of 16
or 17.

“There are also many cases of children, as young as 12 years old,
already drinking alcoholic beverages,” Tieng said.

The measure also prohibits establishments to sell to a minor liquor
and other intoxicating drinks, tobacco products, illegal drugs, rugby
and other habit-inducing solvents, or pornographic materials, videos,
magazines, books or tapes that are detrimental to the development of a
child.

“Likewise, it shall also be unlawful for any minor  to smoke
cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products; to sniff Rugby or any
habit-inducing solvent;  to drink liquor or any intoxicating drinks;
and to engage in any form of gambling, such as jueteng, lotto, card
games, cara y cruz, and bingo, among others,” Tieng said.

The measure imposes penalties to violators ranging from hours of
community service, fines and penalties, cancellation of business
permit; and appropriate disciplinary action or counseling.

“It cannot be concealed that the youth of the country is beset with
countless social ills.  Evidently, this truth reveals how our youth’s
growth is hampered from becoming productive, responsible, and
nationalistic members of the Filipino community, thus, this bill,”
Tieng said.

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House probe into use of rented properties by crime syndicates sought

The Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs is calling
for a joint congressional inquiry on the prevalent scheme of crime
syndicates to use rented properties as hideouts or bases of their
operations.

In House Resolution 2037, Rep. Danilo Ramon “Dan” Fernandez (1st
District, Laguna) said the dangerous drugs panel should probe the
matter together with the House Committee on Public Order and Security
to determine the remedial actions that must be taken by the
authorities to put an end to such a scheme.

Fernandez sought the inquiry after authorities busted crime syndicates
that were found to be operating from rented houses, which were mostly
located inside the exclusive and reclusive subdivisions like the Ayala
Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.

Fernandez cited the raid conducted by authorities on January 7, 2012
in a resort-type compound in a one-hectare property inside the Ayala
Alabang Village.

The raid resulted in the arrest of five Chinese nationals found
operating a medium-size shabu laboratory capable of producing at least
ten kilos of the prohibited substance in just two days.

The Chinese nationals reportedly rented the compound from Fuerte
Holdings, Inc., with the lease contract signed by a certain Gloria
Cahulogan and one of the arrested suspects.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Jose
Gutierrez Jr. has said PDEA’s legal team was not discounting the
possibility of filing charges against Fuerte Holdings Inc.

“The firm can’t say they just let the suspects do what they wanted.
There should be a level of responsibility on the part of the owner,”
Fernandez quoted Gutierrez as saying.

Fernandez also noted that the Dominguez carnapping syndicate was also
found to be holed in an apartment at Greenville Subdivision, Barangay
San Jose in San Fernando City.

Another is the Alvin Flores group found based in a rented house in
Rocka Village in Bgy. Tabang Paridel, Bulacan, Fernandez said. The
group is believed to be responsible for the series of robberies in
Metro Manila, one of which is the Greenbelt 5 Rolex Watch Store heist.

On February 4, 2011, police raided a suspected drug laboratory at No.
1 Silver Town Homes in Potrero Village, Malabon, which yielded some
P500-million worth of shabu, Fernandez said.

In January 2010, three Chinese nationals were arrested in a raid on a
rented house in Concha Drive, BF Homes, Parañaque, Fernandez added.

Fernandez also cited a police search sometime in July 2007 in the
upscale Honor’s Apartment in San Antonio, Biñan, Laguna, which
resulted in the arrest of Taiwanese drug dealer Tony Tan Go and the
seizure of one ton of ingredients for making shabu worth P4-billion.

Follow up operations led authorities to a warehouse that Go rented at
the Amante Subdivision, Purok 5, Barangay Nueva, where more chemicals
and other ingredients used to produce shabu were seized.

“Many more similar incidents have happened. We want these illegal
operations stopped,” Fernandez said.

Probe irregularities in CCTP implementation – solon

A ranking member of the House of Representatives is strongly pushing
for a congressional inquiry into the findings of the Commission on
Audit (COA) about alleged irregularities in the implementation of the
government’s multi-billion conditional cash transfer program (CCTP).

In House Resolution 2034, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said with the
large amount appropriated for the program, it is imperative for the
House Committees on Poverty Alleviation and Appropriations to
investigate how the allocation is being disbursed by the Department of
Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

This year’s allotment for the CCTP implementation is P39.44 billion as
against the P21.194-billion allocation in 2011.

Citing COA findings, Casiño said some of the beneficiaries, 96 or
6.86% of the 1,400 sample beneficiaries included in the program, were
not extremely poor and are, therefore, ineligible for CCT
participation.

“According to media reports, included in the list are people who own
hectares of land, cars, rental apartments and small businesses.
Others are local government employees or public school teachers
earning regular salaries,” Casiño, chairman of the House Committee on
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development, said.

Casiño said the COA also reported discrepancies and double entries of
the names of 3,146 grantees in 250 payrolls covering the payment
period May 25, 2010, which further led to accumulation of idle funds
in the Land Bank of the Philippines amounting to P19,468,900.00 for
over the counter payments and P516,300.00 for cash card payments.

“Unclaimed cash in the amount of P138,002,926 was also discovered.
The idle amount remains unclaimed because of said double entries and
claimants are not legitimate 4Ps grantees,” Casiño said.

Casiño said DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman reported 171,947 households
which have already been delisted as of November 2011 and that a
grievance redress system is in place.

“The large number of delisted families proves that besides the faulty
principle behind it, there is something structurally wrong with the
implementation of the program,” Casiño said.

“Instead of giving dole-outs and allocating a substantial amount for
its administration, it would be more prudent and farsighted to
prioritize and invest in free education and health services, as well
as skills development and livelihood programs,” Casiño stressed.

Solons push for VAT-free weekends on school items and apparel

Two lawmakers have proposed to make school items and school apparel
exempt from value added tax during weekends in the month of May to
give families a break on spending in preparation for the opening of
the school year.

According to Buhay Party-list Reps. Irwin Tieng and Mariano Michael
Velarde, the VAT-free weekends for these school items will help
taxpayers save money and enable retailers to lure more customers.

The proposal embodied in House Bill 5611 provides that the tax holiday
shall start at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday of May and end at 11:59
p.m. on the first Sunday of May.

“To help defray the cost of purchasing these items, the proposal seeks
to create a holiday from paying the VAT to give working families a
break on spending in preparation for the start of the school year,”
said Tieng.

He said school supplies that shall be VAT-free range from binders and
crayons to instructional materials, while school apparel shall include
items primarily worn for an educational institution which include
school clothing material, ready-made uniforms and accessories, school
shoes, and school P.E. and sports kits.

Velarde said their proposal would enable the government to give back
to the people, especially those with children.

The VAT-free weekend shall only be imposed on covered items with a
purchase price of not more than P1,000 each. The maximum total amount
of purchases for each receipt shall not exceed P10,000 according to
him.

The bill provides that retailers that back-date sales occurring after
Sunday midnight or forward-date sales that occurred before Friday to
make items qualify for the VAT-free weekend shall face tax evasion
penalties in addition to paying a fine of P20,000 to P100,000 or
facing imprisonment of one month to one year, or both at the
discretion of the court.

The VAT erroneously collected by a retailer shall be remitted to the
Bureau of Internal Revenue based on the bill.

Stiffer penalties for carnapping proposed

Quezon City Rep. Jorge “Bolet” Banal has proposed stiffer penalties
for carnapping to address its disturbingly increasing incidence in the
country.

In filing House Bill 5664, which had been referred to the Committee on
Revision of Laws chaired by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th
District, Pangasinan), Banal pointed out that for almost 40 years,
carnapping in the country has not been considered as a non-bailable
offense.

“Criminals have taken advantage of the current state of our law,”
Banal said, adding that criminal elements do not feel threatened as
they can easily post bail.

“We have seen how the current situation (present law) has emboldened
criminal elements because they can easily post bail using the proceeds
from their illegal activity and once out of jail, they simply continue
with their modus operandi,” Banal explained.

Banal said Section 13 of Article III of the Constitution states that
all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable, and the exception
is in the case of those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion
perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong.

Because the cases of carnapping result in physical injuries, rape, and
even in the death of victims, Banal has proposed to amend Sec. 14
(Penalty for Carnapping) of R.A. 6539 or the “Anti-Carnapping Act of
1972.”

Among others, Section 14 is proposed to provide that “Any person who
is found guilty of carnapping, as this term is defined in Section Two
of this Act, shall, irrespective of the value of the motor vehicle
taken, be punished by imprisonment of not less than seventeen years
and four months (14 years and 8 months) and not more than twenty years
(17 years and four months) when the carnapping is committed without
violence against or intimidation of persons, or force upon things;”
(Note: current prison terms in parenthesis).

“And by imprisonment for not less than twenty years and one day (17
years and four months) and not more than thirty years when carnapping
is committed by means of violence against or intimidation of any
person, or by using force upon things;”

“Provided that (and) the penalty of reclusion perpetua (to death)
shall be imposed when the carnapping is committed with the use of a
firearm or other deadly weapon or when the owner, driver or occupant
of the carnapped motor vehicle suffers any of the physical injuries
penalized in Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code, or is killed in
the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion
thereof.”

Barangay officials to be covered by GSIS

Two Party-list lawmakers are pushing for a measure that seeks to
recognize barangay officials in the country as government employees by
putting them under the coverage of the Government Service Insurance
System (GSIS).

Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño filed House Bill
5637, which will be known as “An Act Providing Pension Benefits for
Barangay Officials”.

The two legislators noted that barangay officials remain unrecognized
government employees despite the fact that barangay council serves as
the nearest link of the people to the government, thus depriving them
of the benefits that government employees enjoy.

Colmenares said by recognizing them as government employees and
putting them under the coverage of the GSIS, barangay officials will
be enjoying regular salaries, insurance coverage and retirement
pensions.

HB 5637 expands the coverage of the GSIS by including barangay
officials as members of the System so that they can avail of its
pension benefits.

The bill further provides that the GSIS in consultation and
coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government
(DILG) and the league representing barangay captains and officials
shall issue the necessary rules and regulations to implement
provisions of this act.

The rules and regulations shall cover the rate of premiums and the
manner of its payment, the extent of insurance coverage, the
contributions to be collected from barangay officials and the possible
contributions of provinces, cities, municipalities, possible funds
that may be sourced from the General Appropriations Act, and other
issues needed to implement this Act.

The bill specified that barangay officials who will be included in the
GSIS coverage are the Punong Barangay, Barangay Kagawads, Barangay
Secretary and the Barangay Treasurer.

Based on the Local Government Code of 1991, barangay officials are
compensated in the form of an honorarium of an amount not less than
P1,000 per month for the Punong Barangay and P600 each per month for
the Sangguniang Barangay members, barangay Treasurer and Secretary,
which may be increased or adjusted.

Even if the honoraria has an equivalent salary grade, they will
continue to receive compensation in the form of honoraria as specified
in Section 393 of R. A. 7160, “barangay officials shall only receive
honoraria, allowances and other emoluments.”

2012 – Year of the Yang Water Dragon

What kind of year will 2012 be?   Many expect 2012 to bring about the end of the world, perhaps because they mistakenly think of Mayan or Hindu cosmologies as linear rather than cyclical. From a Feng Shui standpoint 2012, the year of the Yang Water Dragon, brings many possibilities for good fortune.

Most people know that water covers 2/3 of our planet  and comprises 95 percent of our bodies; we simply cannot live without it.

In Chinese element theory, water produces wood, which signifies growth and is the natural element of the dragon. The dragon governs east/southeast, wealth accumulation and the hours of 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. Associated with thunder, lightning and arousal, the Water Dragon personifies creativity at its best.

Water Dragons occur every 60 years, so we have had Yang Water Dragons in 1952, 1892, 1832, 1772, 1712, 1652, 1592, etc. Too, the future holds more Water Dragons in the years beyond 2012, in 2072, 2132, 2192, 2252, etc.

In 2012 the Yang Water Dragon Year starts January 23, 2012 and ends February 9, 2013. The energetic high point of the year is the dragon moon, which is from May 20 to June 18 (new moon is May 20, full moon is June 4 and dragon moon is over June 18. June 19 begins the snake moon, which will set up the energy for the following year, 2013, year of the yin water snake.)

Embrace the upcoming 2012 Year of the Water Dragon! Also makes great gifts for people who are Water Dragons (born either between 1/27/1952 – 2/23/1953 OR between 1/23/2012 – 2/9/2013.)  There’s even something for the Water Dragon babies of 2012/2013.

 

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