RH Bill Finally Approved

After a year of debate in plenary, the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill is approved in the Senate and House after the ‘second and third reading’.

In polling done in the Senate, 13-8 in favor of proposal and no ‘abstention’ while the Lower House of Congress, 133 voted Yes, No, 79 and 7 abstention.

The senators who voted “yes” on the RH bill were Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ralph Recto, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.., Loren Legarda, Teofisto Guingona II, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan and Panfilo Lacson.

In other turn, ‘no’ vote were from senators Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, Vicente Sotto III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Aqui­lino Pimentel III, Jinggoy Estrada, Manuel Villar and Gregorio Honasan.

The two senators, Sen. Serge Osmeña and Sen Lito Lapid weren’t able to vote since they were out in the plenary when the voting of RH bill was done.

Before the vote, Sotto stood aside to insert some amendments to such bills.

Arroyo also hopes that the decision of the Senate and House in the RH bill will be respected in the bicameral conference committee.

Lacson also praised Enrile and Sotto due to their resistance to their ‘beliefs’ and ‘conviction’ of such measures.

Meanwhile in the House, it appears to raise more yes vote compared on second reading last week that only reaches 113 while it is noticeable that no votes lessen more that first earned 104 votes.

Because of this, Albay Rep.. Edcel Lagman said their contingent is already preparing for Bicameral conference meeting that is expected to do today.

“We are now preparing for the Bicam,” Lagman said after polling ended, he said, with almost 18 years of fighting to have the RH law in the Philippines.

“Eto na ang pinakamasayang araw,” stated Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin after the polls.

‘No Need For Noy To Sign Waiver’

Malacañang sees no need for President Aquino to sign any waiver on his bank accounts despite the challenge hurled by Senators Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano, who want all members of the Cabinet to give the public access to their assets.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte pointed out that doing so would lump Aquino with expelled chief justice Renato Corona, who was found guilty of non-disclosure of assets, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

“Is it fair to put the President, who has not been accused of graft, who has not been accused of dishonesty, to put him in the same category as the man who was just removed from his post, from being the highest magistrate of the land?” Valte asked.

Despite Aquino’s promise during the 2010 presidential campaign to sign a waiver of his bank accounts once elected president, Valte argued there is no need at this point to make good on this promise, since it was made in a different context at the time.

Valte echoed the statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that signing bank waivers are mere “theatrics,” especially because such waivers have always been included in the annual statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) that they regularly submit.

“Under the Bank Secrecy Law, there are exceptions there that would trigger the opening of the accounts,” she said.

“It’s all theatrics. Again, there is already a waiver in the SALN that authorizes the Ombudsman to get all the relevant information from all government offices,” she said.

She also added that Aquino has always made available his SALN, from the time he entered government service when he won as Tarlac congressman in 1998, when he was elected senator in 2007 and until now that he is President.

“From 1998 onward, they have all been available publicly. Nobody had said that his SALN disclosure was incomplete or they have not been truthful. And the same goes for members of his Cabinet,” Valte said.

So far, no incumbent Cabinet official – perhaps even past ones – has declared his dollar account/s, if there are any, in the SALN that he has submitted.

Valte qualified, however, that it will be up to members of the official family – in an individual capacity – to sign a waiver if they want to, either on their peso or foreign currency deposits.

“It will be the personal decision of the Cabinet members if they want to sign a waiver under the Bank Secrecy Law and under the FCD Law if applicable,” she said in her weekly interview over state-run radio dzRB.

A Political Rivalry: Cayetano vs. Tinga

Pia Cayetano

Pia Cayetano

Excited, Pia Cayetano sent a Twitter message on Monday afternoon that she was about to bike to her precinct in Bagumbayan, Taguig to cast her vote. However, her next tweet was one of frustration.

“I was not able to vote! Supporters of our opponents in Taguig started hurling invectives at my brothers and throwing punches at them,” her tweet read.

Cayetano said her brothers Ren and Lino were waiting patiently in line when Dante Tinga’s followers started “harassing” them.

On the other hand, former barangay chairman Francisco Javier, a Tinga follower, filed physical injuries and malicious mischief charges against Senator

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‘Minority boycotted term extension bills’

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said she joined the Senate boycott last Wednesday to block alleged attempts to pass two controversial bills and not to show solidarity with Sen. Manuel Villar, who could have faced censure from his colleagues in the majority for the C-5 road controversy.

The two bills seek to reorganize the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

“I am chair of the economic affairs committee, and I was never consulted on either bill. I would certainly have protested a vote on the floor this afternoon, because they have worrisome provisions,” she said.

“For example, like the pending immigration bill, the Pagcor bill seeks to grant security of tenure to the head of office,” she said.

Santiago said that reorganizing the NTC would have far-reaching consequences, because the agency has control over importations of signal jammers that could disrupt the operations of poll automation machines, cell phones, radios, and other tools for telecommunications.

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No Senate censure of Villar

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate adjourned session yesterday without a vote on the Committee of the Whole’s report on the C-5 road controversy involving Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar Jr. as he and his allies in the minority did not show up.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, and Senators Jamby Madrigal, Richard Gordon and Rodolfo Biazon assailed the apparent “boycott” by Villar and his allies.

They said their absence compromised other pending bills as well as the Blue Ribbon Committee’s report on the national broadband network controversy, which held President Arroyo, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and other officials accountable for the overpriced project.

Absent at yesterday’s last session aside from Villar and Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. were Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Manuel Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

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Villar allies, critics face off on C-5 deal

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile blasts Sen. Manny Villar while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano defends his partymate during deliberations on the C-5 report yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines – Allies and critics of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. squared off yesterday over the ethics case against him during an emotional and tension-filled floor debate. Villar snubbed the session.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile lashed out at the absent Villar, standard-bearer of the Nacionalista Party, for not facing his colleagues to explain the ethics case against him in connection with alleged road project anomalies, particularly the C-5 road extension.

In a report, the Senate Committee of the Whole chaired by Enrile said Villar should be censured for failing to divulge his real estate companies’ interests in the Las Piñas-Parañaque link road and the C-5 road extension projects.

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