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Senate of the Philippines

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Gordon (@DickGordonDG) advises against junking EDCA

Senator Richard J. Gordon has cautioned the Duterte administration that withdrawing from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States (US) is not advisable at present.

Gordon said junking EDCA, as President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to do, could give China more courage to make more serious maneuvers to attain their goal of gaining control over the disputed West Philippine Sea or South China Sea as it would weaken the US’ influence in Asia.

“I don’t think so right now. Kung yung statement ni President Duterte mapakinggan ng ibang bansa, hihina ang America at yung ibang bansa baka lilipat sa China. Lalong magkakaroon ng delikadong sitwasyon dito – lalakas ang China at hihina ang impluwensya ng Amerika dito sa Asya. Lalakas ang loob ng China na pwede na silang manapak dito dahil alam nilang kumakampi sa kanila ang ibang bansa,” he stressed.

The senator said EDCA should remain for now just in cas e conflict breaks out between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.

“Napaka-delikado niyan. Sa akin, if China steps on Scarborough Shoals, that is a red line and we’ll have to fight. Scarborough Shoals is so near that we will have to fight. We will be like Finland during the Winter War in 1939,” he said.

The Winter War that Gordon referred to, which occurred from November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940, was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. The Soviet Union ostensibly sought to claim parts of Finnish territory, demanding—amongst other concessions—that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons, primarily the protection of Leningrad, which was only 32 kilometers from the Finnish border. Finland refused and the Soviet Union invaded the country.

EDCA is an agreement between the US and the Philippines intended to bolster the U.S.–Philippine alliance. The agreement allows the United States to rotate troops into and out of the Philippines for extended stay and allows the U.S. to build and operate facilities on Philippine bases, for both American and Philippine forces.

Under EDCA, the US is not allowed to establish any permanent military bases, but it gives Philippine personnel access to American ships and planes.

The agreement was signed by then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila on April 28, 2014. On January 12, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the agreement’s constitutionality in a 10–4 vote.
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@cynthia_villar @kikopangilinan @migzzubiri DISCUSSING THE DA’S BUDGET: Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee E, questions officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the agency’s proposed P50.5B 2017 budget during a public hearing Monday, October 10 2016. Villar welcomed the creation of a program that will allow Filipino farmers to produce the rice requirement for the 4.5 million household-beneficiaries of government’s conditional cash transfer program. “With this scheme, we will be able to feed the CCT beneficiaries and at the same time provide the farmers with the market for their rice produce. This makes the 4Ps program more meaningful,” Villar said. Also in photo are Senators Kiko Pangilinan (left) and Migz Zubiri (right). (PRIB Photo by Albert Calvelo/10 October 2016)

@pinglacsonofcl @jvillanueva2016 INSTITUTING BUDGET REFORM FOR LGUS: Senator Panfilo Lacson (left), chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee D, tackles a proposal seeking to institutionalize the equal distribution of funds for the development of local government units (LGUs). “By giving the LGUs the necessary wherewithal to be active participants in the development of our country, we will end the culture of mendicancy and political patronage that thrive in our system. This will help us realize the inclusive growth that we all aspire for our nation,” Lacson said. Also in photo is Senator Joel Villanueva (right). (PRIB Photo by Cesar Tomambo/10 October 2016)  

@cynthia_villar DONATION. As Villar SIPAG’s managing director, Senator Cynthia A. Villar receives a customized school chair molder from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) led by OIC Robert Dizon. The new tool will be used to hasten the making of more durable school chairs being distributed for free to all public schools. The Villar SIPAG and the senator have been distributing schools chairs from plastic wastes to public schools to help address the lack of school chairs. ###

Extortionists posing as Lacson’s (@pinglacsonofcl) Senate staff arrested in Bulacan sting

Impostors and namedroppers, be warned. Three persons who claimed to be staff members of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson and who demanded money from a woman were arrested in a sting operation in Malolos City, Bulacan on Friday, October 7.

Police investigators said the group offered to intercede in a criminal charge, in exchange for money.

A report by Superintendent Ruel Cagape of the Philippine National Police Region 3 Regional Intelligence Division’s Special Concerns Unit identified the three as:

Dina Joson Castro, 34
Roberto Fajardo, 51
Ariel Balotro, 35

Seized from them were three mobile phones, two ID cards, and bills including two marked P500 bills. The three now face charges of robbery extortion and usurpation of authority.

Investigation showed Castro introduced herself to Mercedez dela Cruz, whose son faces charges for violating the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition.

Castro, claiming to be a part of Lac son’s staff, promised to talk to the inquest prosecutor about the speedy resolution of her son’s case so he can post bail. Her group initially convinced dela Cruz to fork out P320,000, assuring her the charges against her son will be dismissed through “intercession” by Lacson’s office.

On Oct. 6, Castro contacted Mrs. dela Cruz and demanded another P30,000 for the “early resolution” of her son’s case, not knowing Mrs. dela Cruz had reported the matter to the SCU last Sept. 28 and confirmed that Castro is not connected to the senator.

The office of Senator Lacson assures the public it does not engage in – and will not tolerate – actions similar to what Castro and her group did.

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Villanueva (@jvillanueva2016) committed to address flood woes in Bulacan

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Senator Joel Villanueva has committed to solve the decades-long flood problem of the province of Bulacan as he led the dredging operations in Bocaue on Saturday.

Bulacan has been recently hit by heavy rains and flashfloods brought by the southwest monsoon which forced the evacuation of 1,559 individuals or 356 families from various towns which includes 77 families from Meycauayan, 200 families from Marilao and 79 families from Sta. Maria. Commuters were also reported to have been stranded from SM Marilao to Meycauayan and SM Marilao to Bocaue.

Villanueva, the only incumbent senator who hails from Bulacan, believes the said problem must be acted upon at the soonest time possi ble. “As a Bulakenyo, I personally witness the disastrous flooding in my hometown. Many families are being evacuated and individuals get stranded due to flooding every time heavy rains hit the province. This calls for a speedy action,” the senator said.

Villanueva initiated the dredging operations in Bocaue with the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the local government units of Bulacan. The turnover of the equipment was attended by DPWH officials led by Region III Director Jun Molano, District Engineer Ruel Angles, CIBAC Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, local officials led by Bocaue Mayor Joni Villanueva and other stakeholders.

For decades, flooding has been a serious problem in Bulacan since the province serves as a natural catch basin for floodwaters coming from central and northern Luzon’s mountainous areas.

“The worsening and prevalent flooding in Bulacan already calls for an immediate solution. I believe that t hrough the dredging of the Bocaue River, we would be able to mitigate flooding in the area,” Villanueva explained.

Upon the turnover of the dredging equipment, the DPWH will manage the operations which is believed to increase the carrying capacity and flood spill of the Bocaue River which will ease the flooding in Bocaue, Meycauayan, Sta. Maria , Obando and Marilao.

“Ito pong proyekto na ito ay simula pa lamang, makakaasa po kayo na maipaglalaban natin sa Senado ang mga proyektong makatutulong para sa patuloy na pag-angat at pag-unlad ng makasaysayang lalawigan ng Bulacan,” Villanueva said.

Gordon (@DickGordonDG) to UN: Probe Chicago killings too!

Senator Richard J. Gordon has questioned the reason for the United Nations (UN) appearing to pick on the Philippines due to the rising number of killings in the country but is quiet about the killings in President Barack Obama’s home city, Chicago, USA.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the recently reported  killings in the country, Gordon pointed out that, as of October 1 this year, there have been 545 killings in Chicago, which is but one city in the US with a population of 2.9 million.

“Nabasa ko ito. Chicago is where President Obama comes from. That was his district. Doon sya galing. Alam niyo ba na in 2016, the City of Chicago has become the crime capital or the murder capital of the United States of America?  Bakit hindi ginugulpi ng UN iyan? Bakit hindi ginugulpi na andaming namamatay, presidente pa ng Amerika iyan, dito, presidente ng Pilipinas taga-Davao, bakit ginugulpi naman ang buon g Pilipinas?” the senator pointed out.

“As of October 1, 2016, there have been 545 killings in Chicago—545!  In the Philippines, sa atin, tatlong libo. The whole country with 42,000 barangays, 1,490 municipalities, you have 3,000 killings. Isang siyudad lang sa America limang daan apat na pu’t lima, sa atin tatlong libo sa buong Pilipinas. Tama po ba iyan? Kahit na papaano, hindi parehas. Hindi ho ba? When you compare the statistics, one nation against one city, mukhang tagilid, ano? ” he added.

While stressing that he is not defending anybody in mentioning the Chicago killings, Gordon said the UN should also investigate the situation in Chicago, at the same time gave assurances that the Senate is already investigating the killings in the Philippines to ensure that the rule of law is being followed and the rule book has not been thrown out the window.

“So ang tingin ko, one dead is one dead—too many, sobra, kailangang im bestigahin. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Hindi naman tama iyon.  We have not thrown out the rule book. Because the Senate is investigating extrajudicial killings whatever way you want to define it. The law has not been thrown out the window. Kaya huwag kayong matakot sa Pilipinas because the Senate is investigating,” he said.

Reports said a United Nations rights rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, has disclosed intentions to visit the Philippines to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on crime, but was seeking security guarantees for people she planned to speak with.

Callamard said that she would insist on a range of measures to ensure that those who spoke with her did not face retribution.

Duterte earlier said he would allow UN and European Union experts to look into the reported killings since he took office on June 30, however he also challenged them to face him in public debates.

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Legarda (@loren_legarda) Renews Call for PHL Ratification of Paris Agreement as it Takes Effect Soon

Senator Loren Legarda today said that the government should expedite the process of ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change for the country to benefit from the pact, which will take effect next month.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change and Global Champion for Resilience of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), made the statement after the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved.

“More and more nations are ratifying the Paris Agreement. Vulnerable small island states, such as Fiji, Marshall Islands, Palau and Maldives, took the lead and, recently, the largest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, US, China and India, and now the European Union, have deposited their instruments of ratification. We see no reason for the continued delay on the Philippines’ ratification, especially that our own experience from Supertyphoon Haiyan was one of the rallying points f or a more ambitious climate deal,” she explained.

To date, 75 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) covering more than 55% of global GHG emissions have ratified the climate pact. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on November 4, 2016.

“We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain with the Paris Agreement. We worked hard for this Agreement. The Philippines was at the forefront of the Paris climate talks, leading climate-vulnerable developing nations in pushing for the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. Now, with the imminent entry into force of the Agreement, it is ironic that we are taking our time,” said Legarda.

“I urge the Climate Change Commission and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to work together in expediting the process so that the Executive can immediately transmit the instrument of ratification to the Senate for concurrence,” said Legarda.

The Senator reiterated that the P aris Agreement is very important for the Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change.

“There is no provision in the Paris Agreement that would prevent our industrialization. In fact, it addresses the issue of climate justice. There are clear provisions in the Climate Agreement saying that industrialized nations must come up with the funding needed to help the vulnerable nations,” Legarda explained.

Under the Paris Agreement, developed nations are asked to decarbonize economy-wide. They must raise $100 Billion every year to help vulnerable nations for mitigation and adaptation, and to transfer technology.

On the other hand, the Agreement acknowledges that developing nations, like the Philippines, will take time to decarbonize and will be able to do so with external support. This means that the success of the country’s conditional target to reduce its GHG emissions to 70% by the year 2030, as stated in its In tended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), will depend on both its efforts and the technical and financial support that will be provided to the country.

The Philippines was among the most influential countries in the crafting of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which seeks to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and possibly not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Philippines also signed the Agreement in New York last April 22 and will be considered to have joined the Agreement once the President ratifies it and the Senate concurs in the ratification.***

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Legarda (@loren_legarda) Wants Full Electrification of all Households, Sitios

Senator Loren Legarda said she will push for full electrification of all barangays, sitios and households in the country through appropriate funding in the national budget as she welcomed the European Union’s (EU) support for the Philippines’ rural electrification targets.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, made the statement during the launching of the Access to Sustainable Energy Programme (ASEP) at the 4thEU-Philippine Meeting on Energy last October 7 at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

In her keynote speech, Legarda said, “The country’s electrification profile shows that 89% of households in Luzon have power, 79% in the Visayas, and a very low 56% in Mindanao. Urban electrification stood at 94%, while rural electrification in the country stood at a low of 73%.”

She noted that most of those who have no access to electricity primarily live in the rural areas, which account for 4.4 million households l iving in remote areas as well as in the outskirts of Metro Manila and Davao.

“We want these statistics to reach 100% by 2017 or in the next two years, definitely before the 2020 original target. But we do not want just statistics, we must ensure that indeed all barangays, sitios and households in the country are electrified,” she stressed.

Legarda said she will look into how much funding assistance is available from foreign sources and how much the government can provide as counterpart under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) so that the country will not need to wait until 2020 to achieve full electrification.

The Senator, however, stressed that electrification goals would need to be aligned with a low-carbon objective in the energy sector.

“The sustainable development-energy nexus requires an urgent examination of how the country can tap cleaner forms of energy to provide for the region’s requirements. I welcome the ASEP for it offers a definitive pathway to universal access to electricity under a sustainable framework,” said Legarda.

Through ASEP, the EU has allocated a grant of over Three Billion Pesos to assist the Philippines to meet its rural electrification targets by means of renewable energy and to promote energy efficiency.

“Lack of access to electricity is a fundamental issue that keeps our poor in the bondage of poverty. Education needs electricity. Functioning health clinics and pumps for water and sanitation require electricity. Unless universal access to electricity is achieved, the prosperity that economic growth aims to deliver will amount to nothing but an empty promise,” Legarda concluded.***

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@jvillanueva2016 Bocaue River dredging operations well underway. BOCAUE, BULACAN—Senator Joel Villanueva on Saturday leads the dredging operations on Bocaue River to address the perennial flooding in Bocaue, Meycauayan, Sta. Maria, Obando and...

@jvillanueva2016 Bocaue River dredging operations well underway. BOCAUE, BULACAN—Senator Joel Villanueva on Saturday leads the dredging operations on Bocaue River to address the perennial flooding in Bocaue, Meycauayan, Sta. Maria, Obando and Marilao. Senator Villanueva, who hails from Bulacan, has emphasized the need to fast-track the flood control project which is believed to increase the carrying capacity and flood spill of the river.