The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 2, 2011 Major News Stories (dyab-cebu.bokyo@blogger.com)

February 2, 2011 Major News Stories
February 2, 2011 Major News Stories

 

LTFRB bares rules: Operators need permits to collect jeep fare hike

CEBU, Philippines - There will be a lot of arguments today in public utility jeepneys as the fare rate adjustment is set to take effect.

This is because, the Php 1 adjustment to the jeepney fares can only be collected if the operator has secured the necessary permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Regional director Ahmed Cuizon said the commuters should not pay the adjusted fare unless the driver can present the certification and verification fee receipt issued by the LTFRB regional office.

“Just as taxis, the drivers cannot increase without calibration, testing and sealing of its new meters, jeepneys also need to get the verification and certification,” Cuizon explained.

In securing the certification from the LTFRB to show that the concerned PUJ unit is authorized to collect the additional fare, the applicant must pay P50 and another P50 for the verification fee.

Cuizon said that if the PUJ drivers will collect the new fare without the certification, the commuters have the right not to pay what is demanded.

“The certification will also stipulate the mandatory discounted rates for students, senior citizens and persons with disabilities,” Cuizon added.

It is expected that PUJ drivers or their representatives will troop to the LTFRB regional office at the North Reclamation Area today to secure the requirement for them to start to collect the rate adjustment.

PHP 200 ADDITIONAL

Benjie Yu, the president of the Cebu Integrated Transport Services Cooperative (CITRASCO), said with the P1 fare rate adjustment the PUJ drivers may already have an additional P200 take home net income.

“Malipay g’yud mi nga mga drivers kon ang tag-iya sa mga sakyanan dili usab mopaumento sa among abangan. Sagad man g’yud nga kon may increase sa pletehan ila usab nga paumentohan ang abang,” Labangon-bound PUJ driver Guillermo Sanchez said.

According to Sanchez his regular daily net income for driving for more than 12 hours is only P450 to P550.

The LTFRB-Manila had decided to grant a P1 fare rate adjustment because of the high cost of petroleum products.

“While the LTFRB recognizes the plight of the Filipino people in this time of crisis, it cannot be insensitive to the present clamor of stake holders in public land transportation services for necessary action for fare rates,” said LTFRB Chairman Nelson P. Laluces.

According to Laluces the LTFRB has to judiciously balance the rights of the riding public who are mostly dependent on the public transport system vis-a-vis the right of the PUJ operators and drivers to a reasonable return of investment.

Laluces noted that the last time an increase was made, a liter of diesel was still P37.00. Now the price of diesel is already P44.

But for LTFRB Board member Manuel Iway, who is against to the granting of fare adjustment, the transport leaders and drivers still have no reasons to ask for increase.

“In all my years as a private lawyer, I have yet to see a transport group present studies, projections, financial statements, or data showing increase of goods which allegedly affect their operations,” Iway said.

Yu for his part, when he was interviewed over radio station dyLA yesterday, said while the LTFRB has already granted P1 fare rate adjustment to PUJs, the transport sectors will still continue to lobby for the approval of their petition for a P8 fare rate for the first four kilometers.

The PUJ drivers have been reminded to continue grant 20 per cent discount rates to students during school days and to senior citizens and persons with disability everyday.

Labor groups to file petition for pay raise due to fare hike

DUE to the increase in taxi and jeepney fare rates, the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and the Associated Labor Unions (ALU) will soon file separate petitions for another wage increase.

ALU spokesperson Josefina Lim said the P18 wage increase approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) last year is not enough to cover the recent fare increases.

APL President Jose Tomungha said he believes the public utility jeepney (PUJ) fare hike is reasonable because of the rising fuel prices, which also caused the prices of basic commodities to go up.

But he considers the taxi fare increase exorbitant as it is about 33 percent of the previous fare and had not been subjected to public consultation.

Besides, he said, it only benefits taxi operators.

Increase

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has approved a P1-provisional increase in jeepney fares effective today, raising the minimum fare to P7.50.

The LTFRB is also calibrating taxi meters so cabs can charge P40 upon flagdown and P3.50 per 250 meters. The old taxi flagdown rate was P30 while the charge per 250 meters had been P2.50.

“These are the reasons we should file a petition for another wage adjustment within this month,” Tomungha said.

Romeo Armamento of the Alyansa sa Nagka-hiusang Drivers Alang sa Reporma said while the fare increases affect workers, drivers of public utility vehicles need to survive.

He said labor groups should petition for a salary increase to offset the effect of the fare hike on workers.

Basis

LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said PUJ drivers cannot start collecting the P7.50 minimum fare if they will not pay a verification fee of P50 and another P50 for a certification authorizing their unit to collect the new rate from his office.

“If they collect the new fare without the certifications, they will have no basis to show to the passengers. It might result in quarrels between drivers and passengers.

The certification will also stipulate the mandatory discounted rates for students, senior citizens and persons with disabilities,” he said.

Lawyer Manuel Iway, LTFRB board member, said he had opposed the petition of PUJ drivers to increase fares since he did not see how the rising prices of goods affected their livelihood.

But he said he inhibited himself from deliberations on the taxi fare adjustment because he opposed it several times when he was still in private law practice.

“In all my years as a private lawyer, I have yet to see a transport group present studies, projections, financial statements or data showing how the increase of the prices of goods affect their operations. Jeepney drivers do not always give the correct change to their passengers, and they do not always comply with mandated discounts for students and senior citizens,” Iway said.

‘Missing’ fisherman, 64, getsashore safely in Bohol islet

by cebuweb

A 64-YEAR-OLD fisherman, who sailed out to sea despite bad weather over the weekend, was reported to have safely reached the shore of Cuaming islet in Bohol Province yesterday.

The family of Bonifacio Mabala, a resident of Sitio Rattan, Barangay Tanke, Talisay City, reportedly received a text message from a relative in Cuaming that the fisherman got ashore safely.

Mabala’s son, Oliver, confirmed this to radio dyAB that he received a text message from a certain Irish, a cousin, about the whereabouts and condition of his father.

Public Works omits flood control

CEBU CITY -- Some P781 million worth of projects, including two flyovers, will be implemented by the public works agency this year, but nothing has been appropriated for flood control and prevention and drainage systems in the cities of Mandaue and Cebu.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Central Visayas included in its 2011 budget the P100 million needed to finish the flyover in Barangay Mambaling and the P303.1 million to be used for the rehabilitation of the Cebu South Coastal Road.

DENR sets aside P29M to reforest 7.5T hectares

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched a reforestation program in Central Visayas to mitigate climate change, ensure environmental stability and alleviate poverty.

The DENR National Greening Program has been allotted P29 million and will engage students and volunteers to plant one-million seedlings of agroforestry, native and indigenous species. The program aims to reforest a total area of 7,499 hectares.

DENR hopes to reforest 2,900 hectares in Cebu Province, 3,150 hectares in Negros Oriental, 1,180 hectares in Bohol, and 269 hectares in Siquijor.

“We will start the tree planting activity by June 2011, or as soon as we have available seedlings and our partnership agreements with some government agencies and other stakeholders are put in place,” said DENR 7 Executive Director Maximo Dichoso.

He said forests sequester carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Forests also provide clean water and clean air.

“It (the project) also provides stable watershed function and nutrients, steady supply of food, shelter for wildlife, adequate supply of seeds and wildlings, and protection from heavy rains and storms,” he said.

Forests also help prevent flashfloods and landslides, and help revive biodiversity, he added.

The agency has partnered with the Department of Agriculture, which provides seedlings, marketing and post-harvest facilities.

The Department of Agrarian Reform will handle the social formation program, capacity-building and site identification while the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will help mobilize volunteer planters and seedling production.

The Department of Interior and Local Government will provide the logistical support for forest fire management and protection while the Department of National Defense will handle the transport, security and planting.

Other agencies or groups involved are local government units, people's organizations

and the business sector.

City only after settlers’ votes: guv

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia cautioned Acting Cebu City Mayor Joy Young on his statement that the city has no program for illegal settlers because they are from the province.

She said Young should be more careful with his statement, which could mean that for so long the City has exploited the informal settlers for their votes.

Young said most of the informal setters in the city are from the towns of Cebu.

But Garcia said they may come from the province buy they have registered in the city. She said the City has exploited the settlers for their votes.

“What does she (Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia) mean they are all Cebuanos? Does it mean we have to give (the illegal settlers) P4,000 and send them to college?” Young said, referring to the City’s financial aid to senior citizens and scholarship program.

“I thought the Province is already very rich,” Young said.

Young dismissed the governor’s statement that the informal settlers were used for the election, saying it was Garcia’s opinion.

Young said there is no concrete program for informal settlers in the City. But with the floods last week caused by the overflowing of Mahiga Creek, the City Government had to clear obstacles on the river side, which includes houses of informal settlers.

The City has a Balik Probinsya Program, which assists displaced families in the City to go back to their hometowns.

Garcia also reacted on Young’s statement that drainage is not a priority. She said she hopes this does not reflect the sentiment of Mayor Michael Rama.

She said there is a real solid waste management program to work on because the Inayawan landfill is not an environmentally safe way of dealing with the garbage problem of Cebu City.

Garcia said there must be a general drainage and sewerage master plan. She said there’s no sewerage in Cebu City and it needs everybody’s cooperation to come up with one.

But Young said he only meant there is no need for a master plan on drainage because the root of the problem is garbage.

If only people know how to manage the problem, the drainage problem can be solved.

Councilor Nida Cabrera agreed with Young that garbage is a major factor that causes flooding, but it has to be integrated with the City’s drainage problem, which is a more immediate need.

Mayor Rama earlier said he wants to use the P225 million payment of Filinvest Land Inc. for drainage projects, which bugged Young because the City can save if solid waste disposal is in place.

Cabrera and Department of Public Services Chief Dionisio Gualiza agreed.

If this problem is solved, Young said there isn’t even a need for a second sanitary

landfill.

Cabrera and Gualiza, though, said the City still needs a sanitary landfill because the Inayawan landfill’s life span already lapsed in 2007.

But after three years, Gualiza said the City still has not found a suitable area for a sanitary lanfill. The City has looked for lots in Barangays Budlaan, Kalunasan and Binaliw.

Another immediate need is a facility for residual waste because the facility in Inayawan will no longer be usable in March.

This is why the City needs to strictly implement provisions under Republic Act 9003, or the Solid Waste Management Act, City Ordinance 1361, which establishes a system of garbage collection, and City Ordinance 2031, which requires waste segregation.

Plastics are not even a problem anymore because these are recyclable and there is

technology that can dispose of plastics, said Cabrera.

The key is implementation in the barangay level, said Cabrera.

Barangay officials can be penalized if they don’t follow the provisions of the ordinance.

The problem is, said Cabrera, a lot of garbage collectors allow non-segregation because they earn extra by segregating the wastes themselves.

But to show that the government is not sleeping on the job, Cabrera said there have been 500 cases filed for violation of non-segregation since the ordinance was passed.

Presently, there are 20 arrest warrants issued for violations of City Ordinances 1316 and 2031.

The City Planning and Development Office, in a presentation of its chief Maricon Encabo, said a resident in the City disposes half a kilo of garbage a day. This means the City collects between 450 and 500 tons of garbage every year.

Cebu assembly to discuss housing

CEBU, Philippines - Officials of Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) will meet with 131 mayors, four governors and 13 congressmen in Central Visayas to discuss how to provide housing to the homeless in the region.

The meeting will be held during the launching of a housing caravan dubbed as “Strengthening Local Government Units in Housing Delivery and Local Development Planning” from February 10 to 11 in Cebu City.

Through this assembly, the HLURB, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and key shelter agencies will provide workshops to officials and homeowner associations.

HLURB is targeting about three million families to benefit from the housing program.

About P1.7 trillion must be raised in 10 years for the program. From where to source this amount is also the subject of discussion during the two-day summit.

HLURB commissioner Felix William Fontabella said they are seeking integration and cooperation from LGUs to be able to deliver their mandate.

The LGUs play an important role in housing and land use development planning, he said.

The HLURB is willing to assist LGUs in finding lending facilities and fund sources like private partners, Priority Development Assistance Funds of the Congress, among others.

The summit will be attended by Vice President Jejomar Binay, the HUDCC chairman.

Rescuers talk lifeguard out of Mactan bridge leap

A LIFEGUARD who looked like he was about to jump from the old Mandaue-Mactan Bridge kept rescuers busy for over an hour yesterday morning.

They saved him.

It was the third time since Jan. 19 that a person held up traffic on either of the two bridges. On that day, a woman jumped from the old bridge, while another man began a 43-hour campout on top of a tower of the new Marcelo Fernan Bridge.

Two clinical psychologists, interviewed separately, said the gloomy weather may aggravate depression, but there are other factors that need to be explored.

It was a sunless morning yesterday when a pedestrian’s call dragged a team of police and firefighters to the bridge around 8:50 a.m. They quickly went down to a beam under the bridge, where the lifeguard stayed, some 60 meters above the water’s surface.

His problem? His wife found out about his alleged affair with a South Korean guest of the resort where he works. She has reportedly arranged to bring him to Korea.

Trembling, out of fear and the cold winds that swept the beam, the lifeguard only gave in when the negotiator, Insp. Jacinto Mandal, told him, “Kanang imong problema naa’y kasulbaran, pero ang paghikog dakong sala sa Ginoo (There’s a solution to your problem, but you’ll only sin against God if you kill yourself).”

Using a rope, an operative from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) descended and tied a rope around the lifeguard. They were both pulled up to safety at 10:15 a.m., said Mandal.

The man’s youngest child was baptized last Sunday.

When he left right after the church rites, without attending the party, that made the wife suspicious, Mandal said.

Mandal said that the couple and the Korean woman caused a commotion around noon last Monday in the City Post Office, where the wife caught the two together.

The wife went to the post office to claim an SSS maternity check, while the Korean was there with the lifeguard to send a package to Korea. When the wife saw her husband’s motorcycle, she immediately looked for him and confronted him at the sight of the Korean.

When asked if suicide attempts are connected to gloomy and cold weather, Dr. Frederick Boholst said he has no such data here in the Philippines.

But Boholst, a psychologist for 19 years, said light or sunlight plays a factor in depression. There are some depression therapies that include exposure of one’s eyes to the light.

Weather also affects the condition, “if it rides on an existing depression.”

Dr. Andres Gerong, 63, another clinical psychologist, said in other countries where the weather is always gloomy, residents tends to get irritated easily.

Winter, Boholst said, is often associated with difficulties in daily living as one cannot go out, drive a car or go to the park.

The weather, however, is only a secondary factor.

Emotional problems, hardships and tragedies are among the more common triggers of depression. “But it is premature to associate bad weather with suicide,” said Boholst.

Woman charges hubby with frustrated parricide

CEBU, Philippines - A call center agent charged her husband with frustrated parricide before the Regional Trial Court for allegedly trying to kill her last week.

Ian Borja, 27, was indicted of frustrated parricide and was ordered to pay P40,000 bail for his temporary liberty.

He was accused by his wife Marie Christine Borja of stabbing her last January 26. The victim said they were in their room when the accused suddenly stabbed her in the stomach without any provocation.

Marie said she cried for help until their house helper arrived forcing her husband to leave her. The accused allegedly went downstairs to get another kitchen knife and went back to show her how he slashed his neck and left wrist.

Marie said her husband also stabbed himself as he lay down beside her on the bed. The victim said she was able to get the knife from her husband while he was trying to hurt himself more.

The accused was arrested by the responding policemen who also brought them to the hospital.

Guv, PB meet today on Celco loan

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has requested for a special session of the Provincial Board today in light of the massive brownouts in Camotes Island.

She said they need the PB's authority to enter into a memorandum of agreement with National Power Corp. (Napocor) and Camotes Electric Cooperative (Celco) on Capitol’s offer allowing Celco to take out a loan to boost power supply on the island.

"By doing this, I am invoking the General Welfare Clause of the Local Government Code, otherwise known as Republic Act 7160, because I see this as an emergency situation that calls for the intervention of the chief executive,” Garcia told reporters.

She stressed that the lack of power supply “negatively impacts the livelihood, safety and economic conditions of our local government units and their constituents.”

She said Napocor has stated they have difficulty paying for their generator fuel, so they asked Celco to make an advance payment.

The advance payment could be deducted from Celco’s future payments.

Because Celco does not have funds, Capitol has committed to provide a loan at a certain interest acceptable to all parties.

Spokesperson Rory Jon Sepulveda said they will be lending a little over P9 million.

“We are giving them breathing space but of course this will be paid back at a reasonable interest,” Garcia said on giving Napocor three months to pay, before coming out with another solution.

The governor also said she believes they were in agreement not to pass on the interest to the consumers through increased electricity rates.

She said Napocor still needs approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for their proposal to increase the universal charge for missionary electricity.

She said Napocor was only given a fraction of the amount they requested as universal charge in the entire country.

She said Napocor also hopes the Department of Justice will reverse its opinion that the corporation may not enter into loan agreements, because right now they can't take out loan from financing institutions.

In case Napocor can't comply during the three-month period, the governor declined to comment if they will grant another loan or replenish the fuel. She only asked to give her 90 days to think about it.

Body draws up new list from which P-Noy can pick council chairperson

RDC 7 decided to submit to Pres. Aquino a new list of nominees for RDC chairperson.

Aquino earlier picked then Gov. Agustin Perdices of Negros Oriental from among the list of nominees for RDC 7 chairman. But Perdices died of stomach cancer last Jan. 5.

In the new list are Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, Siquijor Gov. Orlando Fua Jr., Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes and Gov. Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental.

11 brgys. asked to explain projects

OFFICIALS of 11 barangays in Cebu City’s south district will be summoned to appear in next week’s fact-finding investigation on the barangay infrastructure projects implemented last year.

The four-man fact-finding committee created by Mayor Michael Rama wants the bids and awards committee of the barangays to shed light on their projects.

The 11 barangays are Babag for their road concreting from Maomaowan to their cemetery; Sudlon I and Sudlon II for their road concreting; Bonbon for road concreting in Sitio Bandila, Proper Bonbon and at Sitio Gila-Gila; Sinsin for its road concreting; To-ong for its road concreting from proper to Kangking; Pamutan for its road concreting in Sitios Buntod, Cabatbatan and at Baksan; Sapangdaku for its concreting project from Napo to Canipao; Kalunasan for its riverbank protection in Sitio Lokana and Laneja; Suba for its covered court construction; and Inayawan for its drainage system.

These were among the P156 million worth of infrastructure projects awarded to E.M. Arante Construction.

Lawyer Dominic Diño, member of the fact-finding committee, said most of the 11

barangays were cited by the evaluation report of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to have used “substandard” materials in their infrastructure projects.

Diño, who was tasked by the committee to send the summons today for the 11 barangays, said their investigation will resume on Feb. 8 and 10.

Rama gave the fact-finding committee until Feb. 18 to finish its investigation. City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez, who heads the committee, said they might ask for an extension. He said they need to cover several angles in the investigation.

The committee has invited representatives from the offices of the city budget, accounting, engineering and treasurer.

Bernaldez said they have already found irregularities in the projects.

Balili executor fails to convince widow to transfer P24M to estate

THE executor of the Balili Estate has failed to convince the widow of Engr. Luis Balili to transfer about P24 million to the estate’s bank account to satisfy the Province’s claim of P37 million.

Instead of compliance, lawyer Romeo Balili submitted a manifestation to the court, stating the composition of investments of the widow in various banks that totaled P24,014,479.66.

In the same pleading dated Jan. 24, 2011, Atty. Balili confirmed he failed to convince Amparo Balili to convey the investments under the estate’s name.

However, Amparo’s lawyers, Carlo Fortuna and Mark Werner Rosal, asked the court to declare the executor’s manifestation nothing but a mere “scrap of paper.”

“The executor cannot simply demand from the petitioner to put in the name of her (Amparo) personal bank accounts and investments in the amount of P24,014,479. 66 to cover up for amounts he had not accounted for,” Amparo’s counter-manifestation, prepared by Fortuna and Rosal, read.

In a text message to Sun. Star Cebu, Fortuna said the executor “knew at the outset that convincing Mrs. Balili would be an exercise in futility because his own accounting readily shows the amounts in the banks were personal funds of (Mrs.

Balili). The funds to be returned are only funds of the estate.”

Asked if the estate funds are sufficient to replenish the Capitol’s claim, Fortuna said there are adequate funds in the estate.

Remedies

“The only thing to thresh out is the source, which he (executor) could not reconcile.

However, what is apparent is that the claim of the Province is contingent and when established, the Province, like any other creditor, has all the available remedies to satisfy its claim,” he said.

On Jan. 7, 2011, Judge Ester Veloso directed the executor to compel Amparo to transfer the P24 million, which is part of the P98.9 million the Capitol paid for the Balili property in Barangay Tinaan, Naga, Cebu.

The P24 million is in Amparo’s account, Atty. Balili earlier told the court in one of its hearings.

Balance

The court also said there was a need to revise the executor’s accounting of the estate’s assets, which he submitted to court recently, since the balance of P24 million deposited in the Land Bank of the Philippines is under the widow’s name, and not the estate.

Last Dec.16, Veloso, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6, ordered Amparo to return P13.8 million of the sum she had withdrawn from the sale proceeds of the Balili property in Naga.

The P13.8 million, the court said, will be added to the P24 million deposited in the Land Bank, and will cover Capitol’s claim of a P37-million refund.

The Provincial Government filed a lawsuit to recover part of the almost P99 million it paid for nearly 25 hectares of a beachfront property in Naga, as a big part turned out to be submerged.

Amparo withdrew P44.483 million, which is her share of the estate, prompting the executor to declare in his pleading that there is not enough money to cover the Province’s claim, in case Capitol wins the legal case.

Tomas no-show in hearing of libel vs. Guardo

REP. Tomas Osmeña’s bid to have his political opponent during the last congressional election, businessman Jonathan Guardo, tried in court suffered a setback yesterday.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Gilbert Moises deferred the businessman’s arraignment for libel until month’s end to give the prosecution time to evaluate the case information.

Osmeña, who filed the complaint that led to the case while he was still Cebu City mayor, was not present during the early morning proceedings held at the 18th Branch of the RTC.

SC affirms suspension of Carmen accountant

CEBU, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the ruling of the Office of the Ombudman-Visayas suspending the municipal accountant of Carmen, Cebu for a period of one year after she was found guilty for her involvement in an anomalous transaction 10 years ago.

The High Tribunal’s Second Division presided by Justice Antonio Carpio ruled that the Court of Appeals erred when it reversed the Ombudsman’s decision that ordered the suspension of Dinah C. Barriga.

The Ombudsman-Visayas decided to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court after the appellate court claimed that the anti-graft body has no power to suspend government officials, as its task is only recommendatory.

Justice Carpio reiterated that the Supreme Court, in many cases, ruled that Republic Act 6770 allows the Office of the Ombudsman to punish any government and public officials found guilty for wrongdoings.

“We held that decisions of the Ombudsman are immediately executory even pending appeal in the appellate court,” the Supreme Court ruling reads.

According to Carpio, the Ombudsman’s order imposing Barriga the penalty of suspension from office for one year without pay is immediately executory even while pending in the Court of Appeals.

But because records showed that Barriga already served six months of her suspension, the mayor of Carmen is ordered to implement only the remaining six months of her penalty.

The records of the case showed that Barriga, together with the late Carmen mayor Virgilio Vilamor and municipal treasurer Bebelia C. Bontia, was charged with graft by Sonia Pua, a town councilor of Carmen in 2000 and now mayor.

Pua claimed that the respondents committed graft when they entered into several “irregular and anomalous transactions” about the handling of the trust fund of the municipality for the Central Visayas Water and Sanitation Project.

The Ombudsman dismissed the case against Villamor and Bontia for being moot and academic because Villamor was already elected then as vice mayor while Bontia was already been dismissed for another case.

Malversation raps filed against Tangke ex-barangay treasurer

CEBU, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman filed a case of malversation of public funds against a former barangay treasurer of Tangke, Talisay City, Cebu before the Regional Trial Court-Office of the City Prosecutor Cebu City Criminal Division the other day.

Office of the Ombudsman’s graft investigation and prosecution officer Maria Corazon Vergara-Naraja, in an information approved by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol, claimed that Teresita Bas allegedly committed the crime from March 2003 to November 10, 2006.

The information stated that Bas, then the barangay treasurer of Tangke, Talisay City was in the possession and custody of public funds amounting to P2,920,583.56, constituting the cash advances issued to her, for which she is accountable by reason of the duties of her office.

The information added that the accused misappropriated and used the amount for her own benefit.

An P80,000.00 bail is recommended for her temporary liberty.

The anti-graft office in their resolution dated August 16, 2010, found probable cause to indict Bas for the said crime.

Last December 7, 2007, the anti-graft office received a letter from a concerned citizen inquiring about the result of the audit conducted by the Commission on Audit on the shortage allegedly incurred by Bas.

Bas, in her counter-affidavit, stated that the presumption of malversation does not exist in her case because the money that were said to be unaccounted for were not spent or put to her personal use but were disbursed for official purposes.

3 cops relieved for special treatment of "drug queen"

CEBU, Philippines - Three policemen in Danao City Police Station were relieved yesterday and recommended to face administrative charges for allegedly giving special treatment to a suspected drug queen.

Danao City police chief Eddie Recamara ordered the relief of Senior Police Officer 4 Edgar Gomez, PO2 Marlon Remollo and PO3 Matias Galo.

The three were desk officers and jailers at the same time of the police station where suspected drug queen Florita Dalumpines is detained following her arrest by the Provincial Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Group (PAIDSOTG) last week.

Gomez and Remollo were temporarily reassigned to Kababayan Center near Mitsumi while Galo was reassigned to the mobile patrol pending investigation.

Recamara also recommended to the provincial headquarters to investigate the three policemen for neglect of duty.

Recamara said he found out that Dalumpines was given special treatment inside their detention facility by allowing her to have a television set.

Provincial director Senior Superintendent Erson Digal said he is directing Recamara to conduct the investigation to determine who was responsible for the special treatment.

“All chief of police know that dapat way pinalabi sud sa prisohan,” he told The Freeman on the phone.

The three policemen were supposed to be responsible for the special treatment being the desk officers and jailers at the same time.

Dalumpines was earlier nabbed with several packs of illegal drugs amounting to P5,000. She was allegedly a level 2 drug pusher in Barangay Sabang, Danao who can dispose 200 grams of shabu worth P2.5 million every week.

Meanwhile, a level two drug pusher in barangay Poblacion 1, Carcar and his cohort were arrested for possession of 20 small packs of illegal drugs worth P6,000 during a buy-bust operation Sunday evening.

Audie Paras, 26, and Lorenzo Lapinid, 37, both residents of Barangay Kalidngan are now detained at the Carcar Police Station.

The suspects were charged for violation of Sec. 5 and Sec. 11 of RA 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

Church in Santander robbed

CEBU, Philippines - The treasurer’s office of the St. Gabriel Parish Church in Barangay Poblacion, Santander, lost P40,000 after it was burglarized last Sunday morning.

The unidentified perpetrator allegedly gained entrance by destroying the small padlock at the gate of the convent and went directly to the treasurer’s office.

The perpetrator also destroyed the doorknob of the said office and the drawers of the table of office employee Leonidas Buscato and made off with the proceeds of the church amounting P40,000.

The perpetrator also entered the stock room of the said office but apparently did not take anything from there.

PO2 Noel Estender of Santander Police Station said that the burglary could be an inside job since the perpetrator was familiar with where the cash was kept.

Estender said that the cooperative office, which was opposite the treasurer’s office, was not even entered by the perpetrator.

“Suhito siya og asa ang kwarta gibutang possible nga pirmi ni siya sa kumbento,” Estender said.

He said that after the perpetrator destroyed the doorknob of the Treasurer’s Office he even tried to fix it to cover his tracks.

“Giguba unya gibalik sa original pero dili na maabli, kinahanglan gub-on na lang gyud ang pultahan,” Estender said.

Estender added that they already have a possible suspect but further investigation will still be conducted.

Meanwhile, a man was seriously hurt after he was hit by a Ceres bus while crossing the National Highway in Barangay Luyang, Carmen, last Monday morning.

Romeo Sios-e, a resident of Sitio Proper, Barangay Luyang, sustained serious injuries to the head. He was rushed to the Danao District Hospital but later referred to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.

The bus, with license plate number GXJ-416 was driven by Onyses Comajeg, 40, a resident of barangay Dawis Norte, who immediately surrendered to the responding policemen. He was detained at the Carmen police stockade.

Police said the bus was headed north when the victim, who was reportedly drunk from a fiesta celebration in the said place, crossed the street.

Comajeg alleged that he tried to apply the brakes but it was too late and the bus hit the victim.

Carmen police investigator SPO1 Ricardo Enriquez said that Comajeg did not notice the victim because it was dark and he was wearing a black shirt.

“Wa kuno siya kaklaro kay medyo ngi-ob ang dalan unya nag-itom kuno og T-shirt,” Enriquez said.

Barangay Intelligence Network personnel who responded to the incident wondered why the victim went to Barangay Luyang when his house was just a few meters away from the national road.

Enriquez said that they are still waiting for personnel from Villacar Transit Inc., owner of the bus line to meet with the family of the victim in order to reach an agreement.

The family of the victim said that they will file a case if the owner of the bus line will not assist them with the financial expenditures of the victim.

Butuan City river overflows due to nonstop rains

Umapaw ang ilog sa Butuan City at binaha ang iba pang lugar sa CARAGA region dahil sa tatlong araw na pag-ulan. Libu-libong residente na ang nailikas.

Nearly 6,000 people evacuated in Caraga due to floods, landslides

BUTUAN CITY - Disaster management officials in the Caraga region in Mindanao have implemented a forced evacuation of nearly 6,000 people because of flash floods and landslides, the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Caraga Region reported.

Arroyo generals deny ‘pabaon,’ ‘pasalubong’ system

MANILA, Philippines – Five of the 10 military chiefs of staff of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday faced the House Justice Committee to categorically deny any wrongdoing in the management of military finances during their time in office.

Former Armed Forces chiefs of staff Narciso Abaya, Dionisio Santiago, Generoso Senga, Hermogenes Esperon, and Alexander Yano faced the committee and denied that they received payola upon their assumption and upon their retirement from office.

Three other former Arroyo chiefs of staff – Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva, and Roy Cimatu – did not attend the hearing.

Reyes did not communicate the reasons for his absence. Villanueva’s wife just died while now Ambassador Cimatu is still on assignment as chairman of the Middle East preparedness team.

Abaya said that another Armed Forces chief, Efren Abu, abolished the position of military comptroller that was prone to corruption.

They also stopped the provision for command directed activities (PCDA) – a lump sum that can be abused. “Like all other systems, it can be subject to abuse.”

The generals also denied that their wives were jetsetters at the expense of the government.

Villanueva said his wife is a jetsetter because their child works for Northwest Airlines and they have a garments business.

Bank execs involved in AFP anomaly?

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - The money trail in the plunder case against retired Major General Carlos Garcia and his family has put a spotlight on the role of bank executives who were behind the unexplained -- and controversial -- bank transactions worth millions of pesos.

Punishment for corrupt generals sought by officers’ group

MANILA, Philippines—Active and retired generals are alarmed at how the exposé about the past existence of a multi-million-peso slush fund for military chiefs of staff has damaged not only the reputation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines but those of officers and soldiers as well.

The Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), composed of some 700 active and retired generals, held an emergency meeting of its Council of Elders on Tuesday.

In a statement, AGFO said the exposé about the large-scale misuse of military funds by some former chiefs of staff was “disconcerting and demoralizing to the serving men and women of the AFP and those who have served it with honor, self-sacrifice and dignity.”

It supported the ongoing investigation and said officials who were guilty of diverting military funds for their personal use should be punished.

“The objectives of these proceedings should be to determine the truth, lead to the prosecution of the guilty and the liberation of the innocent. We are not exculpating any of the accused who at this stage have to defend themselves from their accusers,” AGFO president and retired lieutenant general Raul Urgello said.

He added they were also “concerned that the enemies of the state or those with other than noble motives might take advantage of these conditions that undermine the confidence of our soldiers by committing violence.”

Among the two dozen generals who participated in the meeting held at the AGFO office in Camp Aguinaldo were Renato De Villa and Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon who served as chiefs of staff under the late president Corazon Aquino.

Urgello said their concern is the AFP's stability and integrity in light of the latest corruption scandal.

He said the alleged “pabaon” or send-off cash gift given to past military chiefs upon their retirement came as a surprise. He added though that this still had to be proven.

Urgello said Reyes should face the charges against him and that AGFO would remain neutral.

“We are here to protect the integrity of individual officers and the integrity and strength of the Armed Forces. We don’t like the Armed Forces to be weakened because of this anomaly,” he said in an interview.

“We look at it from a neutral point of view. We support the investigation and we hope that legislation would be initiated to prevent this allegation from happening in the future and to strengthen the Armed Forces because these things really weaken the Armed Forces,” he added.

He, however, stopped short of calling on those who have been implicated so far to take the responsibility of explaining in public in order to protect the military institution.

“We reserve making a judgment at this point. We are for the rule of law. But the allegations are really in a way alarming because it is damaging to the reputation of the Armed Forces and to the dignity of the people who have served and now still man the Armed Forces,” Urgello said.

Trillanes: Reyes is the 'powerful man' behind Garcia

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday named former Defense secretary Angelo Reyes as the “powerful person" behind alleged plunderer Carlos Garcia, a former Armed Forces comptroller accused of amassing P303.27 million in ill-gotten wealth while still in active service.

“He asked me to name names and I’m naming him as what was told by [Lt.] Col. [George] Rabusa as one of the principals behind Gen. Garcia," Trillanes told reporters in an interview on Tuesday.

The former Navy officer was reacting to Reyes’ challenge for him, made at a press briefing earlier in the day, to identify the alleged influential person behind Garcia.

“If I am the one then he should mention my name. If I am not the one he should say so," said Reyes, whom Rabusa accused of receiving millions worth of cash gifts while serving as AFP chief of staff from 2000 to 2001.

Upon his retirement from the Armed Forces, Reyes then the Defense Department from 2001 to middle of 2003. Garcia was military comptroller from March 2001 to September 2003.

Reyes: “I have nothing to hide"

Reyes, however, said during the briefing that Trillanes should “substantiate" his allegations.

Reyes denied accusations that he benefited from corruption in the military.

“I have nothing to hide. Throughout my long years in the government service, I have always adhered to the highest professional and ethical standards," said Reyes, who held various Cabinet positions under the Arroyo administration.

Reyes likewise denied accusations that his wife also benefited from alleged corruption in the AFP.

"We deny having received any unauthorized money. This is a wild and preposterous allegation," he said, adding that he is willing to undergo lifestyle check any time as long as those who are linking him to corruption would do the same.

Rabusa, a former military budget officer, made the revelations last week in a hearing by the Senate blue ribbon committee on the controversial plea bargain agreement entered into by Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman. The deal allowed Garcia to post bail after pleading guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and money laundering.

Trillanes said Rabusa’s statements were enough to implicate Reyes in the alleged corruption. “He (Rabusa) is a very credible witness. He’s an insider. He’s doing his admission against his interest," he said.

Rabusa served as budget officer during the time of Garcia as J6 (deputy chief of staff for comptrollership, now defunct) and Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot, Garcia’s predecessor.

More irregularities

Trillanes said more irregularities in the AFP will be bared in the coming weeks involving Reyes and other ranking military officials who served during the Arroyo administration.

“I believe in the coming weeks we will [be] uncovering more instances of corruption committed by these people, particularly those officers, senior officers during the time of [then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo]," he said.

Trillanes refused to elaborate on his claim, saying he’ll just let Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III and Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada expound on it.

“This is their show, I’m going to stay in the background," said Trillanes, who as a Navy officer in 2003 joined more than 300 soldiers in seizing a posh hotel in Makati City to demand the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo and other key security officials over alleged corruption.

Trillanes was detained from July 2003 to December 2010. Just recently, his application for amnesty was approved by the Department of National Defense (DND).

Reyes’ lawyer, Bonifacio Alentajan, meanwhile, questioned during the press briefing why Reyes suddenly became the subject of last week’s Senate investigation when it was supposed to center on the plea bargain agreement between Garcia and the Ombudsman.

Bakit lumabas sila doon... naging out of order tuloy ang usapan na yun (Why did they appear there? Because of that, the discussion was out of order)," he said, referring to Rabusa and Estrada, who brought the former AFP budget officer to the hearing.

Reyes dares Trillanes to waive immunity

MANILA, Philippines – Former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes on Tuesday challenged Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to give up his parliamentary immunity amid his allegations against the former Armed Forces chief in connection with reported irregularities in the military.

In statement coursed through his lawyer, Bonifacio Alentajan, Reyes said he found “no honor” in Trillanes “attacking and then taking refuge behind the now much-abused parliamentary immunity of lawmakers.”

The lawmaker has named Reyes as the former top official allegedly behind former military comptrollers Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot.

“He asked me to name who the principals are. I am naming him as the principal behind Garcia and Ligot,” Trillanes said.

Reyes did not take the allegation lightly.

“All I am asking is for Senator Trillanes to fight in a level playing field instead of confederating with a lynch-mob to subject me and my family to a trial by publicity. For when a man imputes malice and calumny against another man, he must make himself answerable for his accusations,” he said.

“If there is a shred of truth to what Senator Trillanes is saying, I am asking him to rise to the occasion by filing the proper charges against me before any judicial body,” Reyes added.

He earlier filed graft and corruption charges against Senator Jinggoy Estrada and former military budget officer George Rabusa for accusing him of corruption during a recent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

He is also suing Rabusa for libel before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.

Reyes’ PMA mistahs: Let courts decide on AFP payola issue

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Military Academy Class 1966 has assured its mistah, retired chief of staff and general Angelo Reyes, of their “moral support” but will not pressure him to explain his actions in light of corruption accusations against him.

On whether the accusations are true, Reyes' classmates would rather leave the question to the courts if the case reaches there.

“It’s a legal matter that we have to respect. As far the class is concerned, we provide Angie that morale support. We do not want to give him more problems by criticizing what had happened if any,” retired Colonel Manuel Espejo, president of PMA Class 1966, said when interviewed in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday.

“We were asking everybody who are close to him to find some ways to help him out. We cannot say anything (about) it. It's between him and (retired Lieutenant Colonel George) Rabusa. Let the courts decide on the matter,” he added.

Espejo declined to give his opinion on the accusation that Reyes, whom he claimed to know “better than my (own) brother,” received around P100 million from monthly slush fund and another P50 million as send-off gift or “pabaon” upon his retirement from the military service.

“I'm leaving that to the legal luminaries,” he said.

Espejo said he had not spoken with Reyes since Rabusa made his exposé during a Senate hearing last Jan. 27, adding Reyes had not asked for help so far.

“He believes in own capability. He believes in himself that this is a situation that he can hurdle,” he said.

Espejo described his mistah as “intelligent, straightforward and (one who) does not mince any words.”

Nevertheless, Espejo admitted that the exposé has been “hurting not just the Armed Forces and the soldiers but the entire country” as well.

“Let us support the Armed Forces, the Philippine National Police. These are the only things that they need for them to do their job, the public support,” he said.

Ex-COA auditor bares attempt to dilute Garcia plunder case

Humarap kanina sa pagdinig ng House committee on justice si dating COA auditor Heidi Mendoza. Ibinunyag niya ang tangka umanong pahinain ang plunder case laban kay dating AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Ombudsman belittles own evidence vs Garcia

Kanina sa pagdinig ng House committee on justice, pinanindigan ni Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez na walang sapat na ebidensya laban kay dating AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia kaugnay ng kasong pandarambong.

Ombudsman: No fixing, no money in Garcia plea deal

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez quashed speculations that she received money in exchange for approving the plea bargain agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Ex-COA auditor gets support in Garcia exposé

Bilang isang babae laban sa tiwaling sistema, bumuhos ang suporta para sa dating auditor ng Commission on Audit na si Heidi Mendoza, na nagbunyag ng katiwalian sa militar sa harap ng mga mambabatas. Sa kabila ng posibleng panganib sa kanyang buhay, isiniwalat ni Mendoza ang mga nalalaman sa kasong pandarambong laban kay dating AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia, at iba pang sangkot sa katiwalian sa AFP.

Bishops back Mendoza, Rabusa

Catholic bishops on Tuesday threw their support behind whistleblowers former government auditor Heidi Mendoza and retired Lieutenant Colonel George Rabusa for exposing corruption in the government which they said has continued to impoverish the Filipino people.

De Lima defends Rabusa

MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday defended retired Lieutenant Colonel George Rabusa, who claimed that his former bosses in the Armed Forces of the Philippines pocketed hundreds of million of pesos from a military slush fund.

According to De Lima, former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes’ accusation that Senator Jinggoy Estrada was just using Rabusa for political vendetta was immaterial to the significance of his revelations.

“You can never impute political motivation. What we are after is truth and accountability. It’s only now that we have whistleblowers and witnesses who dare to expose these irregularities which have long been going on,” De Lima said.

“This is the perfect time, the perfect opportunity to be serious in exacting accountability. This government is sincere. We have no other agenda except public interests,” she added.

Reyes, who denied Rabusa’s allegations, on Monday filed graft charges against Estrada and Rabusa at the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly besmirching his reputation.

He said Estrada used Rabusa to get back at him since his withdrawal of support from the senator’s father, deposed President Joseph Estrada, was instrumental to his downfall in 2001.

DoJ, DILG to probe into officials’ connivance in kidnapping

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government are to form a panel to look into the alleged connivance of some government officials with kidnapping syndicates, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday.

Ombudsman orders 6 DepEd execs suspended over noodle scam

MANILA, Philippines—Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez ordered the preventive suspension of six Department of Education (DepEd) officials implicated in the multimillion-peso noodle scam.

Preventively suspended for six months without pay were Education Undersecretary and then Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman Teodosio Sangil Jr., then BAC vice-chairperson Demetria Manuel, former BAC-members Nanette Mamoransing, Macur Marohombsar and Artemio Capellan, Jr., and former Officer-in-Charge Ramon Bacani.

The officials are facing administrative charges of graft and corruption, violations of government’s procurement rules and other violations.

Investigation made by the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office showed that anomalies attended the procurement of Fortified Instant Noodles with Fresh Eggs for the DepEd’s Food for School Program in 2007 and 2008.

“The initial pieces of evidence submitted by the complainant preliminarily established some irregularities in the conduct of the respondents which, if duly proven, would constitute grave misconduct and dishonesty, and which sufficiently warranted their suspension pending the administrative adjudication of this case,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez directed Education Secretary Armin Luistro to immediately implement the preventive suspension order.

In 2007, the respondents bought Fortified Instant Noodles with Fresh Eggs worth P283,626,515. The following year, they bought the same product amounting to a total of P57,141, 864.

Upon investigation, it turned out that the instant noodles purchase was not in the DepEd’s Annual Procurement Plan. The department was supposed to buy noodles and eggs as separate items under its Food for School Program.

At the same time, the 2008 purchase did not undergo the required public bidding, with the officials resorting to a repeat order procurement method.

The inquiry also showed that the contract was awarded to Jeverps Manufacturing Corporation, whose license to operate was suspended by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) after its products failed the test for nutritional value. Its factory was also found unsanitary.

2 poll commissioners to retire without replacement

President Benigno Aquino III has yet to decide on who would replace Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer and Gregorio Larrazabal, who will retire on Wednesday.

$1: 44.210

$1: 44.210 (P44.27)

Euro 1: 60.6839

Govt studying how to reduce 40% rice tariff

Malacañang on Tuesday said government is studying how to reduce the 40 percent tariff on rice to encourage the private sector to import the commodity.

Deputy presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said an inter-agency technical working group is now studying the matter to level the playing field, because the National Food Authority (NFA) imports rice without any tariff.

The tariff rate reduction is being studied by both the Department of Agriculture and the NFA, he said.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said allowing the private sector to import more rice is part of government’s strategy in restructuring NFA.

What the President wants to turn NFA into a “buyer of last resort," the budget chief said.

A bill is also being fine tuned for the national government to absorb NFA’s P177-billion debt, he said.

It is “logical" for the national government to absorb the NFA’s debt for the agency to have a fresh start, according to the budget secretary.

The Aquino Cabinet has agreed to let the Department of Social Welfare and Development handle NFA’s function that provides subsidized rice to the poor, and the Agriculture Department the regulation of staples trading.

Telcos OK pre-paid SIM registration but ask how

MANILA, Philippines - Telecommunication firms are open to the proposal to require the registration of cellphone SIM cards, but they raised concerns on how this may be implemented.

At a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services on Tuesday, Atty. Rodolfo Salalima, president of the Philippine Chamber of Telecom Operators, said about 95% of 75 to 80 million cellphone users are on prepaid.

A huge chunk of these prepaid subscribers do not have valid government identification, he noted.

He also said they have very minimal control over their re-sellers, which would make it hard for them to oversee the registration of SIM cards.

The Senate's move to have SIM cards registered stemmed from the recent bus bombing in Makati City that killed 5 people and injured 13 others. Authorities said the explosive device in the bus blast used an 81-millimeter mortar and a cell phone as detonator.

Aside from this, many scams are also committed using prepaid SIM cards.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, himself, shared an experience wherein a caller introduced himself as Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and tried to solicit money for a golf tournament.

Deposits boost bank assets to P6.8 T

by By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Total assets of the local banking sector expanded 8.6% in the first 10 months of last year as Filipinos continued to save more on the back of the public’s increasing confidence in the country’s financial system.

Voluntary repatriation for OFWs willing to leave Egypt

by By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday that it has directed the Philippine embassy in Cairo to make immediate arrangements for the repatriation of Filipinos who wish to come home from Egypt in the light of protest actions there.  

Migrante urges PNoy: Tell Mubarak to resign

Reminding the President that he is the son of a democracy icon, a migrant leader on Tuesday urged the chief executive to call for the resignation of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

One million Egyptians clamor for Mubarak to go

by Reuters

CAIRO, Egypt - At least one million people rallied across Egypt on Tuesday clamoring for President Hosni Mubarak to give up power, piling pressure on a leader who has towered over Middle East politics for 30 years to make way for a new era of democracy in the Arab nation.

Egypt's army caught between president, people

by by Christophe de Roquefeuil, Agence France-Presse

CAIRO, EGYPT - The Egyptian army is finding itself caught between a popular uprising, which it has vowed not to crush, and President Hosni Mubarak, from whom it has distanced itself but not abandoned, analysts say.

Mosley says Pacquiao easy to hit

by By Dennis Gasgonia, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao may be fast but he's easy to hit. This is what “Sugar” Shane Mosley claims to be his edge when he faces the fleet-footed boxing champion from General Santos City.

Pacquiao vs Mosley tickets nearly sold out in 3 hours

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – For a fight branded as “garbage” by one boxing analyst, the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley bout remains a hot sell.

Heat rout extends Cavaliers' skid to 21 (AP)

Once again, LeBron James helped the Cleveland Cavaliers reach a milestone in the NBA standings. First to 40 wins one year. First to 40 losses the next. Dwyane Wade scored 26 of his 34 points in the first half, James finished with 24 points and eight assists and the Miami Heat beat the Cavaliers for the third time since the two-time MVP changed cities, winning 117-90.

Lakers coming up small vs. NBA's best (AP)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP)—The Los Angeles Lakers have the NBA’s fifth-best record and a huge lead in the Pacific Division. It’s what they don’t have that might be cause for concern.

After fading in the fourth quarter of a 109-96 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the two-time defending champions are just 1-4 this season against the four teams above them in the overall standings.

Throw in the Dallas Mavericks, who are even with them in the loss column, and the Lakers have just one win in six games against the probable main contenders for their crown.

What does all of this mean to Los Angeles (33-15), a playoff-tested two-time champion near the midway point of another grinding regular season? According to the Lakers, who host Houston on Tuesday night, not a whole lot.

“It happens. When you win, teams gun for you,” Lamar Odom(notes) said after Monday’s practice at the Lakers’ training complex. “You’ve got to be prepared to defend yourselves at all times. We’ve got to understand that when they beat us, it makes their day.”

The Lakers flopped in their Christmas Day showcase against Miami, and they couldn’t keep up with the Celtics. Even Kobe Bryant(notes)noticed after scoring 41 points against Boston, saying the Lakers must “elevate our level” to compete with the rest of the league elite.

“Teams are coming in with a little more energy,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “This is a two-time champion team. We really have a lot to defend, and we’re not going out there and doing the right job about defending our home court, there’s no doubt.”

NBA-leading San Antonio visits Staples Center on Thursday for the Lakers’ final home date before a seven-game road trip. The Spurs already are 7 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers for homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs, which could direct the Lakers’ path to a third title through San Antonio.

The Lakers also have seven home losses, including embarrassing efforts against Milwaukee, Memphis, Indiana and lowly Sacramento last Friday. That’s the same number of losses they had at Staples Center all last season.

Some Lakers fans are panicking after watching Bryant’s one-man show fall miserably flat against the Celtics in Los Angeles’ fourth loss in seven games overall. The Lakers realize they haven’t risen to their biggest challenges this season, but they’re confident there’s still time to get it together.

Jackson doesn’t get concerned when his Lakers lose to the NBA’s best. He worries when they lose to the Kings, as they did last Friday in pitiful fashion, or the Grizzlies, who have beaten them twice this season.

“It’s probably more of a disappointment to me that we haven’t taken care of the teams that we should take care of,” Jackson said. “The inconsistency is what bothers me the most. … (But) we have two years of pretty good records in the playoffs, don’t we? That’s what makes me optimistic.”

Staples Center had an atmosphere fit for a playoff game on Sunday, but only the Celtics fed from it. The Lakers acknowledge Boston played with all the energy and urgency they lacked, reducing Los Angeles to its least effective form.

While Bryant attempted to hoist Los Angeles on his shoulders in the fourth quarter, taking nearly every shot during a long string of possessions, his teammates were shut down by the Celtics. Seven-footers Pau Gasol(notes) and Andrew Bynum(notes) both struggled, while Ron Artest(notes) added perhaps the worst game yet to his dismal season, going 1 for 10 and getting shredded on defense by Paul Pierce(notes).

“Obviously, we’re not going through our best time,” said Gasol, who scored 12 points. “But luckily for us, it’s halfway through the season, so we still have time to make up for the losses that we have. We’ve got to step it up.”

Jackson said Artest struggled through a bruise from a collision with another player’s knee early in Sunday’s game. Bynum skipped Monday’s practice to work with team trainers on his sore left knee, which bothered him against the Celtics.

'Usher's high talent fee, rift with Lovi led Singson to drugs'

May suicidal tendencies si congressman Ronald Singson— ito ang ibinunyag ng mga doktor na tumingin kay Singson sa Hong Kong sa kanilang pagharap sa Wan Chai Court kanina.

'Vilma to do suspense thriller movie with Cuneta'

by by Boy Villasanta, abs-cbnNEWS.com

It seems that award-winning filmmakers Jeffrey Jeturian, Adolf Alix Jr., and Armando Lao will have to give way to prize-winning senior film director Chito Roño. Roño will carry out a much delayed but largely anticipated project for Vilma Santos.

Sharon, Juday, Sarah to star in new film

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Three of the most sought actresses in the country will top-bill a must-see movie this 2011.

Is Enchong wooing Bianca Manalo?

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Young actor Enchong Dee has shrugged off speculations saying that aside from Kim Chiu, he is also courting beauty queen turned actress Bianca Manalo.

Cristine wants to marry Rayver

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Sultry actress Cristine Reyes has revealed that it is her dream to marry her boyfriend, actor Rayver Cruz.

Angelica, Vhong elated over fans' support at 'Bulong' premiere

by abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – A sea of fans assured “Bulong” lead stars Angelica Panganiban and Vhong Navarro that they have the viewers’ support as throngs trooped to the red carpet premiere of the movie at SM Megamall Tuesday.

PAGASA: Winter Triangle visible in February

The Winter Triangle, the famous equilateral triangle in the sky, as well as the planets Venue, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, will be visible to stargazers in February, state astronomers said on Tuesday.

However, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), in its astronomical diary, said the planets Mars, Neptune and Mercury will be difficult to observe during the month.

“The famous equilateral triangle in the sky, known as the Winter Triangle will be visible throughout the night of February," PAGASA officer-in-charge Graciano Yumul Jr. said.

"The Triangle is composed of Betelgeuse, the super giant red star and the prominent star of the famous constellation Orion (the Mighty Hunter), Sirius, the brightest star in the sky of the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog) and Procyon, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Minor (the Little Dog)," Yumul added.

At 5:00 a.m. on February 7, Venus will be easily located in the sky as it shines at magnitude -4.1.

It will lie among the background stars of the constellation Sagittarius, the Water-Bearer.

It will also be visible in the morning sky throughout the month.

At 7:00 p.m also on February 7., Jupiter, and Uranus will be found 30 and 24 degrees above the western horizon.

They will be shining at magnitude -2.1 and +5.9, respectively.

“Both planets will lie among the background stars of the constellation Pisces, the Fish. Jupiter will be easily located through its brightness, while Uranus will need a star map and a binocular or a modest-sized telescope for proper viewing," PAGASA said.

At 11:00 p.m. on February 7, Saturn will be found 15 degrees above the eastern horizon, and will be glowing at magnitudes +0.6.

Saturn will be located among the background stars of the constellation Virgo, the Virgin.

However, PAGASA said Mars, Neptune and Mercury will be difficult to observe due to their proximity to the Sun throughout the month.

No tweets, no live feeds during crisis situations, says media protocol

MANILA, Philippines—Avoid tweets, no live feeds, and don’t act as negotiator.

Journalists signed Monday a covenant with the Philippine National Police on media coverage of crisis situations in the Calabarzon region.

“The Quirino Grandstand hostage-taking fiasco has revealed many glitches in the PNP-media relations, particularly in handling the crisis incident,” read the PNP-Media Protocol During Crisis Situation.

“With this, Police Regional Office 4A and the local tri-media have come up with a protocol to be observed in case a crisis situation, like hostage-taking, arises,” it said.

Eight Hong Kong nationals were shot dead by a dismissed Manila police during the daylong hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand last August 23. The bungled rescue operation was blamed on various factors, including the broadcast media’s blow-by-blow coverage of the crisis.

Calabarzon police chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr. said the protocol “is not a hindrance for media in carrying out its duty.”

However, it draws the line between media’s role to keep the public informed and their responsibility not to impede in operations seeking to peacefully resolve situations like hostage-taking or terrorist attack.

The protocol directs journalists who learned about a hostage situation to first report it to authorities. “Upon confirmation, media may report the news,” it says.

Restrictions on live coverage have to be strictly observed, says the protocol. “Always assume that terrorists, gunmen, hostage-takers have access to the reporting (radio, television).”

Live coverage should only be done as news flash or breaking news. Regular updates on the situation should be obtained from the designated PNP spokesperson, the protocol says.

Also during live coverage, the following are encouraged:

1. Before releasing information, seriously weigh benefits to the public as against the potential harm the information may cause.

2. Avoid inflammatory catchwords and phrases.

3. Avoid making telephone calls to interview terrorists, gunmen, hostage takers, etc.

4. Do not report police operational plans to include assault plan, weapon, tactics or positions of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team or similar units.

5. Do not report any information intercepted from police communication.

6. Explain to listeners/viewers why certain information is being withheld by the police authorities.

7. Give no information be it factual or speculative about the mental condition or reasons of the hostage-taker for such incident.

8. Aside from reporting on the demand of the hostage-taker, refrain from giving analyses or comments on the demand.

9. Be cautious in reporting on the medical condition of hostages until crisis has concluded.

10. Go beyond the basic story of hostage-taking or standoff. Focus on other angles of the incident.

11. Do not report the arrival of prominent personalities such as politicians, military officials, etc.

12. Resist the temptation to tweet information on social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz) while the crisis is ongoing.

For television crew, they can shoot footages for later airing or just for flash reports, it says.

“While hostage taking is on-going do nothing to further endanger the lives/safety of hostages such as turning on spotlights, camera lights, etc.,” says the protocol.

“Fight the urge of becoming a player in any standoff or hostage situation such as becoming a negotiator,” it says, unless demanded by the hostage-takers and clearances were secured from their editors and authorities.

Couples prefer to live in? Marriages down in Central Visayas

CEBU, Philippines - The population in Central Visayas had already reached more than 6 million based on the 2007 figures recently released by the National Statistics Office.

The same figures, on the contrary, show that the number of marriages decreased by over 1,000 compared to the 2005 data.

The figures, according to NSO officials, are giving them the impression that many couples have decided to live together without the matrimony of marriage because of financial difficulty.

“Tinuod na… dili imposible nga daghang mga couples nga nakahukom nga magpuyo bisan dili makasal tungod sa kamahal sa gasto,” said Firmo Deputado, Cebu provincial statistics officer.

NSO-7 director Ariel Florendo says they do not encourage couple to live together without the matrimony of marriage.

Based on the statistics released by the NSO yesterday, the number of marriages registered in their office from 2005 to 2007 has decreased. The data shows that in 2005 there were 37,961 marriages registered. The number went down to 36,325 in 2006 and slightly bounced back to 36,796 in 2007.

Financial crisis was seen as the primary reason why lovers do not bind themselves into lifetime commitments.

Florendo said that in remote barangays marriage would cost at least P50,000 and could be more in urban areas like Cebu City.

The NSO however said there are also advantages in getting married early. Among the advantages, the NSO said, is that their children will be old enough to take care of themselves before you reached your retirement age.

Another advantage is that the couple will get a new house early and start younger to learn to be independent.

While the single tends to spend a lot of money, the marriage people will be forced to save their income for their family. Out of the region’s 6,398,628 population as of 2007 census, the NSO said Cebu has the highest number of residents.

Cebu province has 3,848,919 excluding Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapulapu City, while Bohol has 1,230,110; Negros Oriental has 1,231,904 and Siquijor has 87,695.

Cebu City now has a population of 798,809; Mandaue City has 318,575 and Lapulapu City, 292,530.

Study finds way to predict when cancer will spread

by By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

WASHINGTON - Researchers have found a compound that tumors make when they are likely to spread, and said they hope to use to it predict which patients are most at risk of dying from their cancers.

Climate change costing PH $241M yearly, says study

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines yearly loses millions of dollars in direct damage to properties, livelihood and crops due to climate-related natural disasters, according to a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Danilo C. Israel said in a paper posted on the PIDS website that from 1990 to 2009, the Philippines suffered $4.813 billion in direct damage, or an average of $240.7 million per year, due to weather and climate-related disasters.

In the decade starting 2000, total losses from damage were placed at $2.121 billion, lower than the total damage of $2.602 billion in the 1990s.

There was also indirect damage, such as the impact of agricultural damage on other sectors of the economy through increases in the prices of goods and services. Forms of indirect damage, whenever possible, will also have to be accounted for. However, the available secondary data on economic damage available at present only reflect direct damage and thus, the figures presented below are only the conservative estimates of the total damage.

Based on direct damage alone, while the occurrence of weather and climate-related disasters in the Philippines increased from the 1990s to the 2000s, it did not bring about a corresponding rise in the value of the damage.

The losses arising from the damage included only direct damage of weather and climate-related disasters and would rise if the indirect damage was considered.

"Even with just the current results, the (forms of) economic damage are clearly substantial and should be a cause of concern. In particular, the value of average annual economic damage of $240.7 million for the 1990–2009 period translates to about P11.193 billion at the current dollar to peso exchange rate, which is clearly a significant amount," he said.

Israel recommended more accurate and timely weather forecasting and information dissemination to curb the negative impacts of weather and climate-related disasters.

"This would allow the government and population to effectively respond to weather and climate-related natural disasters and minimize their otherwise highly significant negative impacts," he said.

He also recommended fostering regional cooperation with the Philippines' neighboring countries, including subregional weather forecasting, since some types of disasters such as typhoons have transboundary implications.

This way, the Philippines could benefit from more advanced weather forecasting technologies and risk management strategies that its neighbors may have.

Israel also cited the Senate Economic Planning Office's inclusion in its preliminary list of proposed legislative reforms the passing of the Pagasa Modernization Act. Pagasa, the state weather bureau, stands for Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

This potential law will seek to appropriate funds for the purchase of new equipment and staff training and education, among others.

Israel said this should be given priority by legislators as inaction would just ensure the occurrence of another significant disaster anytime soon.

"Since serious disasters can still occur even with accurate forecasts, as recently shown by typhoon Juan, it would serve the country well if the overall disaster management during and after the actual event of disaster is greatly improved," Israel added.

Palace linked with attempts to conceal AFP fund anomalies

BusinessWorld Online Edition |

Heidi Mendoza, former auditor at the Commission on Audit (CoA), told the justice committee that ranking Palace officials have asked her to "go slow" in investigating P200 million in missing funds from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The probe was conducted in 2004 during the Arroyo administration.

"My boss told me that we were being watched by the Palace. I don’t remember who exactly but I was told that it was the instruction of the Executive Secretary, but I cannot recall," Ms. Mendoza said.

She named former CoA Commissioner Emmanuel M. Dalman who told her that the commission is being monitored.

"Heidi, you will head the financial investigation, kaya lang dahan-dahan lang tayo [but we have to go slow]... it could create certain national disorders," Ms. Mendoza recalled her supervisor’s reminder.

The audit started when Ombudsman Simeon A. Marcelo personally requested then CoA Chairman Guillermo N. Carague for Ms. Mendoza to lead the 11-man team that will assist the Ombudsman in its investigation of then military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia.

Ms. Mendoza said she was made to review four funds under the AFP: detention fund; United Nations fund; Balikatan fund (for joint military exercises between the United States and Philippines) and Modernization fund.

As the investigation progressed, Ms. Mendoza said she discovered a suspicious fund transfer from the AFP’s Land Bank of the Philippines account to the United Coconut Planters Bank’s (UCPB) Alfaro Branch in Makati City.

Payee was the AFP Inter-Agency Trust Fund.

The P200-million transaction was made on Nov. 28, 2002.

Ms. Mendoza said it was made to appear that the amount was deposited in only one account in UCPB, although the account had two passbooks, one which showed a deposit of P100 million, and the other P50 million.

Ms. Mendoza testified how she discovered another passbook which showed P50 million, but it appeared falsified as the deposit entry was typewritten, machine-validated.

There was also no record of the deposit when she had checked with the UCPB branch.

Also, Ms. Mendoza said the account in UCPB was not recorded, thus, the transfer of cash was not reflected in the AFP’s books of account.

After Mr. Marcelo resigned for health reasons in 2005, she was told by Mr. Carague to return all documents "since Ombudsman Marcelo has already resigned."

Ms. Mendoza, however, said all documents have been turned over to the Sandiganbayan, believing there is a strong case against Mr. Garcia.

Despite the air-tight case, she said, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, entered into a plea bargain agreement with Mr. Garcia that allowed the retired general to evade plunder charges by pleading guilty to lesser offenses of direct bribery and facilitation of money laundering.

Plunder by itself is punishable with life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, Eduardo R. Ermita, executive secretary during the Arroyo administration, denied meddling in the investigation.

"Categorically I can say that having been executive secretary, it was during that period but I have no knowledge of statement given by Mendoza," Mr. Ermita said in the same hearing yesterday.

Former AFP chiefs-of-staff (COS) present at the hearing also denied receiving pabaon (take home) upon their retirement from savings of the Provision from Command Directed Activities (PCDA) as alleged by George A. Rabusa, a retired colonel and former budget officer.

Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., COS from July 2006 to May 2008, said PCDA had been abolished in 2002.

"I did not receive any pabaon. All I got was my retirement fee and monthly pension," he said.

Narciso L. Abaya, COS from April 2004 to October 2004, and Dioniso R. Santiago, COS from Nov. 2002 to April 8, 2003, also denied receiving the extra pay.

"I did not receive any monthly stipend. I don’t have pabaon," Mr. Abaya told congressmen.

Mr. Rabusa reiterated before the committee that the PCDA was disbursed solely at the discretion of the AFP chief-of-staff who at the time was Angelo T. Reyes.

Mr. Rabusa worked for the AFP Budget Division Office of J6 (comptroller) and was budget officer during the terms of Diomedio P. Villanueva, Roy A. Cimatu and Mr. Reyes.

He added that PCDA was funded from allotments to the general headquarters and support staff, the three major service commands -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- as well as the Presidential Security Group, Philippine Military Academy and AFP Medical Center.

If additional funding is required, Mr. Rabusa said they tapped into AFP’s "special funds" subject to approval by the president as commander-in-chief, and from savings from salaries of soldiers.

"The P40 million each month has to be maintained," Mr. Rabusa said.

Witness protection coverage

At the Justice department, Secretary Leila M. de Lima told a briefing with reporters: "I wish to confirm that we have placed under provisional coverage of the witness protection program (WPP) Ms. Heidi Mendoza."

"I don’t know the exact threats. [We] assume that since the people implicated here are powerful people, you cannot [be] complacent and downplay any possible security threat," she added.

Marvin T. Meñez, acting program director of the WPP, said in a separate interview that provisional coverage is extended due to threats to a witness’s life.

"It [is in the] power of discretion of the secretary to temporarily admit a witness into the program pending full compliance with the program, especially if there is an emergency [or the] threat to life is high," said Mr. Meñez.

Ms. de Lima said Ms. Mendoza is being escorted to and from the Senate hearings.

"We cannot disclose where she is right now. She is no longer in her regular residence."

Ms. de Lima further said Ms. Mendoza was "brave, and just like Mr. Rabusa, credible".

As for Mr. Rabusa, Ms. de Lima said they are awaiting his affidavit as a requirement for placing him under the WPP.

"They’re still completing their affidavit [and] their supporting evidence [which will be] submitted to us for purpose of coverage under the WPP," she said.

"[Mr. Rabusa is under] protective custody by the Senate leadership in the course of his appearance [before the Senate], but will be eventually turned over to us," said Ms. de Lima.

She added the affidavit will also determine the need to create a fact-finding committee to gather more evidence.

"[Col. Rabusa’s affidavit is the] determinative factor on what kind of panel I will be creating."

The House has also extended protection to Ms. Mendoza through personnel from its Sergeant-At-Arms.

Defense budget reforms

Meanwhile, reforms in the use of Defense funds will be implemented, the Budget chief said yesterday, in light of alleged irregularities in military fund disbursements.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad has identified areas where reforms will be instituted.

Foremost of these reforms, Mr. Abad said, is the release of personal service allotments only for occupied positions, or an estimated 80% of current work force, to avoid fund diversions, noting that P8.602 billion has been identified as savings this year as a result of the new scheme.

"In the past, savings from unfilled or vacated uniformed and non-uniformed positions have been diverted to other uses because the full personnel services allotments had been released in full," Mr. Abad said.

An updated report of the list of uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of the AFP shall also be submitted by the Department of National Defense (DND) to the Department of Budget and Management.

"The revelations of former Lt. Col. George Rabusa on the supposed diversion and misuse of national defense funds compels us to go deeper into the disbursement and procurement practices of the Defense establishment," Mr. Abad said.

Further, the Budget department is considering requiring the purchase of common supplies and equipment from the Procurement Service because "the agencies will not need to go through bidding and the supplies and equipment can be purchased at much lower cost, given the Procurement Service’s market power."

Other reforms include standardizing maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlay of military camps, as well as technical visits by Budget department officers to verify accounts and validate the status of programs and projects.

"This has already been emphasized to them: no report, no release," said Mr. Abad.

In a related development, the military is making sure that the morale of troops, particularly those assigned in conflict areas, remains high amid a series of investigations and exposé on alleged corruption among military generals.

"We are reaching out to them and giving them proper information. We are making sure that there is no pabaon [send-off money]," Brig. Gen. Jose Z. Mabanta, AFP spokesman, told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Mabanta said the AFP is introducing changes to improve on transparency and accountability.

"It’s a work in progress," he said.

Military troops have earlier complained of lack of basic equipment amid charges that generals are receiving hundreds of millions of pesos in send-off money and extraordinary allowances.

The anomalies happened even as soldiers on field were ill-equipped or sick during combat operations.

For his part, Lt. Randolph G. Cabangbang, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said military officers here are glad that the anomalies inside the AFP could now be corrected.

"[The controversies] will not affect the morale of our troops," he said.

FULL TEXT: The consolidated RH Bill in the 15th Congress

"Have you even read the RH bill text?"

In the heat of debate between advocates and opponents of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, this question is often heard. A Pulse Asia survey released in November 2010 shows that 69 percent of Filipinos agree with the RH bill, but the majority of Filipinos admit they have not read the text of any of the RH bills filed in Congress.

Here is the full text of the consolidated Reproductive Health bill unanimously approved by the House Committee on Population and Family Relations on January 31, 2011.

The measure, entitled "An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development," is a consolidation of the bills filed by the following lawmakers: House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr., Akbayan party-list Reps. Arlene Bag-ao and Walden Bello, and Gabriela party-list Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus.

The committee will prepare a report on its approval of the consolidated bill and will submit this report to the House Committees on Rules and Appropriations, after which the measure will be presented in the plenary, where lawmakers will discuss and vote on the measure on the floor.

Once the chamber approves the measure, it will submit the bill to the Senate for consideration. The Senate can either pass its own version of the bill or adopt the bill passed by the House.

After this, the bicameral conference committee will be convened to reconcile the respective versions of the House and Senate. Once the bicameral committee approves the bill, it will be returned to the House and Senate for approval and third reading. Then it will be submitted to Malacañang for the signature of the President. — Candice Montenegro, GMANews.TV

15th Congress - Consolidated RH Bill

SEC. 1. Title

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms

SEC. 5. Midwives for Skilled Attendance

SEC. 6. Emergency Obstetric Care

SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning

SEC. 8. Maternal and Newborn Health Care in Crisis Situations

SEC. 9. Maternal Death Review

SEC. 10. Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines

SEC. 11. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies

SEC. 12. Integration of Family Planning and Responsible Parenthood Component in Anti-Poverty Programs

SEC. 13. Roles of Local Government in Family Planning Programs

SEC. 14. Benefits for Serious and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions

SEC. 15. Mobile Health Care Service

SEC. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education

SEC. 17. Additional Duty of the Local Population Officer

SEC. 18. Certificate of Compliance

SEC. 19. Capability Building of Barangay Health Workers

SEC. 20. Ideal Family Size

SEC. 21. Employers’ Responsibilities

SEC. 22. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women

SEC. 23. Sexual And Reproductive Health Programs For Persons With Disabilities (PWDs)

SEC. 24. Right to Reproductive Health Care Information

SEC. 25. Implementing Mechanisms

SEC. 26. Reporting Requirements

SEC. 27. Congressional Oversight Committee

SEC. 28. Prohibited Acts

SEC. 29. Penalties

SEC. 30. Appropriations

SEC. 31. Implementing Rules and Regulations

SEC. 32-34. Separability Clause, Repealing Clause, Effectivity

SEC. 1. Title

This Act shall be known as the "The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011."

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy

The State recognizes and guarantees the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood. Toward this end, there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds such as sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, political affiliation and ethnicity.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment as a health and human rights concern. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care. As a distinct but inseparable measure to the guarantee of women’s human rights, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of the welfare and rights of children.

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles

This Act declares the following as guiding principles:

a. Freedom of choice, which is central to the exercise of right must be fully guaranteed by the State;

b. Respect for, protection and fulfillment of reproductive health and rights seek to promote the rights and welfare of couples, adult individuals, women and adolescents;

c. Freedom of choice, which is central to the exercise of right must be fully guaranteed by the State;

d. Since human resource is among the principal asset of the country, maternal health, birth of healthy children and their full human development and responsible parenting must be ensured through effective reproductive health care;

e. The provision of medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable and effective reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially of the poor and marginalized;

f. The State shall promote, without bias, all effective natural and modern methods of family planning that are medically safe and legal;

g. The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable couples, individuals and women to have the number and spacing of children they desire with due consideration to the health of women and resources available to them; (2) achieve equitable allocation and utilization of resources; (3) ensure effective partnership among the national government, local government units and the private sector in the design, implementation, coordination, integration, monitoring and evaluation of people-centered programs to enhance quality of life and environmental protection; (4) conduct studies to analyze demographic trends towards sustainable human development and (5) conduct scientific studies to determine safety and efficacy of alternative medicines and methods for reproductive health care development;

h. The provision of reproductive health information, care and supplies shall be the joint responsibility of the National Government and Local Government Units;

i. Active participation by non-government, women’s, people’s, civil society organizations and communities is crucial to ensure that reproductive health and population and development policies, plans, and programs will address the priority needs of the poor, especially women;

j. While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner;

k. There shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation of the population growth rate is incidental to the promotion of reproductive health and sustainable human development;

l. Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population and development;

m. The limited resources of the country cannot be suffered to be spread so thinly to service a burgeoning multitude that makes the allocations grossly inadequate and effectively meaningless;

n. Development is a multi-faceted process that calls for the coordination and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized; and

o. That a comprehensive reproductive health program addresses the needs of people throughout their life cycle.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms

For the purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

‘(a) Adolescence refers to the period of physical and physiological development of an individual from the onset of puberty to complete growth and maturity which usually begins between 11 to 13 years and terminating at 18 to 20 years of age;

“(b) Adolescent Sexuality refers to, among others, the reproductive system, gender identity, values and beliefs, emotions, relationships and sexual behavior at adolescence;

“(c) AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) refers to a condition characterized by a combination of signs and symptoms, caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system, making the afflicted individual susceptible to other life-threatening infections;

“(d) Anti-Retroviral Medicines (ARVs) refers to medications for the treatment of infection by retroviruses, primarily HIV;

“(e) Basic Emergency Obstetric Care refers to lifesaving services for maternal complications being provided by a health facility or professional, which must include the following six signal functions: administration of parenteral antibiotics; administration of parenteral oxytocic drugs; administration of parenteral anticonvulsants for pre-eclampsia and eclampsia; manual removal of placenta; removal of retained products; and assisted vaginal delivery;

“(f) Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care refers to basic emergency obstetric care including performance of caesarian section and blood transfusion;

“(g) Employer refers to any natural or juridical person who hires the services of a worker.The term shall not include any labor organization or any of its officers or agents except when acting as an employer;

“(h) Family Planning refers to a program which enables couples, individuals and women to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children, acquire relevant information on reproductive health care, services and supplies and have access to a full range of safe, legal, affordable, effective and modern methods of limiting and spacing pregnancy;

“(i) Gender Equality refers to the absence of discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in opportunities, allocation of resources or benefits and access to services;

“(j) Gender Equity refers to fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men, and often requires women-specific projects and programs to end existing inequalities;

“(k) Healthcare Service Provider refers to (1) health care institution, which is duly licensed and accredited and devoted primarily to the maintenance and operation of facilities for health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care of individuals suffering from illness, disease, injury, disability or deformity, or in need of obstetrical or other medical and nursing care; (2) a health care professional, who is a doctor of medicine, nurse, or midwife; (3) public health worker engaged in the delivery of health care services; and (4) barangay health worker who has undergone training programs under any accredited government and non-government organization and who voluntarily renders primarily health care services in the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health board in accordance with the guidelines promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH);

“(l) HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) refers to the virus which causes AIDS;

“(m) Male Responsibility refers to the involvement, commitment, accountability, and responsibility of males in relation to women in all areas of sexual and reproductive health as well as the protection and promotion of reproductive health concerns specific to men;

“(n) Maternal Death Review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of maternal death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies;

“(o) Modern Methods of Family Planning refers to safe, effective and legal methods, whether the natural, or the artificial that are registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health (DOH);

“(p) People Living with HIV (PLWH) refers to individuals whose HIV tests indicate that they are infected with HIV;

“(q) Poor refers to members of households identified as poor through the National Household Targeting System for poverty reduction by the DSWD or any subsequent system used by the national government in identifying the poor.

“(r) Population and Development refers to a program that aims to: (1) help couples and parents achieve their desired family size; (2) improve reproductive health of individuals by addressing reproductive health problems; (3) contribute to decreased maternal and infant mortality rates and early child mortality; (4) reduce incidence of teenage pregnancy; and (5) recognize the linkage between population and sustainable human development;

“(s) Reproductive Health refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes;

“(t) Reproductive Health Care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by preventing and solving reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include:

  1. “(1) family planning information and services;
  2. “(2) maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;
  3. “(3) proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;
  4. “(4) adolescent and youth reproductive health;
  5. “(5) prevention and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);
  6. “(6) elimination of violence against women;
  7. “(7) education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;
  8. “(8) treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;
  9. “(9) male responsibility and participation in reproductive health;
  10. “(10) prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction;
  11. “(11) reproductive health education for the adolescents; and
  12. “(12) mental health aspects of RH care;

“(u) Reproductive Health Care Program refers to the systematic and integrated provision of reproductive health care to all citizens especially the poor, marginalized and those in vulnerable and crisis situations;

“(v) Reproductive Health Rights refer to the rights of couples, individuals and women to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; to determine the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have relevant information; and to attain the highest condition of sexual and reproductive health;

“(w) Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education refers to a lifelong learning process of providing and acquiring complete, accurate and relevant information and education on reproductive health and sexuality through life skills education and other approaches;

“(x) Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) refers to sexually transmitted infections, and other types of infections affecting the reproductive system;

“(y) Responsible Parenthood refers to the will, ability and commitment of parents to adequately respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children by responsibly and freely exercising their reproductive health rights;

“(z) Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) refers to any infection that may be acquired or passed on through sexual contact;

“(aa) Skilled Attendant refers to an accredited health professional, such as midwife, doctor or nurse, who has been educated and trained in the skills needed to manage normal (uncomplicated) pregnancies, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period, and in the identification, management and referral of complications in women and newborns, to exclude traditional birth attendant or midwife (hilot), whether trained or not;

“(bb) Skilled Birth Attendance refers to childbirth managed by a skilled attendant including the enabling conditions of necessary equipment and support of a functioning health system, and the transport and referral facilities for emergency obstetric care; and

“(cc) Sustainable Human Development refers to bringing people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to the center of development process, the central purpose of which is the creation of an enabling environment in which all can enjoy long, healthy and productive lives, and done in a manner that promotes their rights and protects the life opportunities of future generations and the natural ecosystem on which all life depends.

SEC. 5. Midwives for Skilled Attendance

The Local Government Units (LGUs) with the assistance of the Department of Health (DOH), shall employ an adequate number of midwives to achieve a minimum ratio of one (1) fulltime skilled birth attendant for every one hundred fifty (150) deliveries per year, to be based on the annual number of actual deliveries or live births for the past two years; Provided, That people in geographically isolated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access

SEC. 6. Emergency Obstetric Care

Each province and city, with the assistance of the DOH, shall establish or upgrade hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric care. For every 500,000 population, there shall be at least one (1) hospital with comprehensive emergency obstetric care and four (4) hospitals or other health facilities with basic emergency obstetric care; Provided, That people in geographically isolated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access.

SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning

All accredited health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on optional basis. For poor patients, such services shall be fully covered by PhilHealth Insurance and/or government financial assistance on a no balance billing.

After the use of any PhilHealth benefit involving childbirth and all other pregnancy-related services, if the beneficiary wishes to space or prevent her next pregnancy, PhilHealth shall pay for the full cost of family planning.

SEC. 8. Maternal and Newborn Health Care in Crisis Situations

Local government units and the Department of Health shall ensure that a Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health, including maternal and neonatal health care kits and services as defined by the DOH, will be given proper attention in crisis situations such as disasters and humanitarian crises. MISP shall become part of all responses by national agencies at the onset of crisis and emergencies.

Temporary facilities such as evacuation centers and refugee camps shall be equipped to respond to the special needs in the following situations: normal and complicated deliveries, pregnancy complications, miscarriage and post-abortion complications, spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs, and sexual and gender-based violence.

SEC. 9. Maternal Death Review

All Local Government Units (LGUs), national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct annual maternal death review in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH.

SEC. 10. Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines

Products and supplies for modern family planning methods shall be part of the National Drug Formulary and the same shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units.

SEC. 11. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies

The DOH shall spearhead the efficient procurement, distribution to Local Government Units (LGUs) and usage-monitoring of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate LGUs to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotments shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following:

“(a) number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children;

“(b) contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and

“(c) Cost of family planning supplies.

SEC. 12. Integration of Family Planning and Responsible Parenthood Component in Anti-Poverty Programs

A multi-dimensional approach shall be adopted in the implementation of policies and programs to fight poverty. Towards this end, the DOH shall endeavor to integrate a family planning and responsible parenthood component into all anti-poverty programs of government, with corresponding fund support. The DOH shall provide such programs technical support, including capacity-building and monitoring.

SEC. 13. Roles of Local Government in Family Planning Programs

The LGUs shall ensure that poor families receive preferential access to services, commodities and programs for family planning. The role of Population Officers at municipal, city and barangay levels in the family planning effort shall be strengthened. The Barangay Health Workers and Volunteers shall be capacitated to give priority to family planning work.

SEC. 14. Benefits for Serious and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions

All serious and life threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, obstetric complications, menopausal and post-menopausal related conditions shall be given the maximum benefits as provided by PhilHealth programs.

SEC. 15. Mobile Health Care Service

Each Congressional District shall be provided with at least one Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas. The MHCS shall deliver health care goods and services to constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, and shall be used to disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The purchase of the MHCS shall be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each Congressional District. The operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be subject to an agreement entered into between the district representative and the recipient focal municipality or city. The MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers and adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by a focal city or municipality within a congressional district.

SEC. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education

Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life-skills and other approaches. Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall commence at the start of the school year immediately following one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act to allow the training of concerned teachers. The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Health (DOH) shall formulate the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education curriculum. Such curriculum shall be common to both public and private schools, out of school youth, and enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) based on, but not limited to, the following, the psycho-social and the physical wellbeing, the demography and reproductive health, and the legal aspects of reproductive health.

Age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education shall be integrated in all relevant subjects and shall include, but not limited to, the following topics:

  1. “(a) Values formation;
  2. “(b) Knowledge and skills in self protection against discrimination, sexual violence and abuse, and teen pregnancy;
  3. “(c) Physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents;
  4. “(d) Children’s and women’s rights;
  5. “(e) Fertility awareness;
  6. “(f) STI, HIV and AIDS;
  7. “(g) Population and development;
  8. “(h) Responsible relationship;
  9. “(i) Family planning methods;
  10. ‘(j) Proscription and hazards of abortion;
  11. “(k) Gender and development; and
  12. “(l) Responsible parenthood.

The DepEd, CHED, DSWD, TESDA, and DOH shall provide concerned parents with adequate and relevant scientific materials on the age-appropriate topics and manner of teaching reproductive health education to their children.

SEC. 17. Additional Duty of the Local Population Officer

Each Local Population Officer of every city and municipality shall furnish free instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding, infant nutrition and other relevant aspects of this Act to all applicants for marriage license. In the absence of a local Population Officer, a Family Planning Officer under the Local Health Office shall discharge the additional duty of the Population Officer.

SEC. 18. Certificate of Compliance

No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

SEC. 19. Capability Building of Barangay Health Workers

Barangay Health Workers and other community-based health workers shall undergo training on the promotion of reproductive health and shall receive at least 10% increase in honoraria, upon successful completion of training. The amount necessary for the increase in honoraria shall be charged against the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) component of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the DSWD. In the event the CCT is phased out, the funding sources shall be charged against the Gender and Development (GAD) budget or the development fund component of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

SEC. 20. Ideal Family Size

The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size. Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children.

SEC. 21. Employers’ Responsibilities

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall ensure that employers respect the reproductive rights of workers. Consistent with the intent of Article 134 of the Labor Code, employers with more than 200 employees shall provide reproductive health services to all employees in their own respective health facilities. Those with less than 200 workers shall enter into partnerships with hospitals, health facilities, and/or health professionals in their areas for the delivery of reproductive health services.

Employers shall furnish in writing the following information to all employees and applicants:

  1. “(a) The medical and health benefits which workers are entitled to, including maternity and paternity leave benefits and the availability of family planning services;
  2. “(b) The reproductive health hazards associated with work, including hazards that may affect their reproductive functions especially pregnant women; and
  3. “(c) The availability of health facilities for workers.

Employers are obliged to monitor pregnant working employees among their workforce and ensure that they are provided paid half-day prenatal medical leaves for each month of the pregnancy period that the pregnant employee is employed in their company or organization. These paid pre-natal medical leaves shall be reimbursable from the Social Security System (SSS) or the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), as the case may be.

SEC. 22. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women

Private and non-government reproductive health care service providers, including but not limited to gynecologists and obstetricians, are mandated to provide at least 48 hours annually of reproductive health services ranging from providing information and education, to rendering medical services free of charge to indigent and low income patients, especially to pregnant adolescents. These 48 hours annual pro bono services shall be included as prerequisite in the accreditation under the PhilHealth.

SEC. 23. Sexual And Reproductive Health Programs For Persons With Disabilities (PWDs)

The cities and municipalities must ensure that barriers to reproductive health services for persons with disabilities are obliterated by the following:

  1. “(a) providing physical access, and resolving transportation and proximity issues to clinics, hospitals and places where public health education is provided, contraceptives are sold or distributed or other places where reproductive health services are provided;
  2. “(b) adapting examination tables and other laboratory procedures to the needs and conditions of persons with disabilities;
  3. “(c) increasing access to information and communication materials on sexual and reproductive health in braille, large print, simple language, and pictures;
  4. “(d) providing continuing education and inclusion rights of persons with disabilities among health-care providers; and
  5. “(e) undertaking activities to raise awareness and address misconceptions among the general public on the stigma and their lack of knowledge on the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of persons with disabilities.

 

SEC. 24. Right to Reproductive Health Care Information

The government shall guarantee the right of any person to provide or receive non-fraudulent information about the availability of reproductive health care services, including family planning, and prenatal care.

The DOH and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness of the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including family planning and population and development.

SEC. 25. Implementing Mechanisms

Pursuant to the herein declared policy, the DOH and the Local Health Units in cities and municipalities shall serve as the lead agencies for the implementation of this Act and shall integrate in their regular operations the following functions:

  1. “(a) Ensure full and efficient implementation of the Reproductive Health Care Program;
  2. “(b) Ensure people’s access to medically safe, legal, effective, quality and affordable reproductive health supplies and services;
  3. “(c) Ensure that reproductive health services are delivered with a full range of supplies, facilities and equipment and that service providers are adequately trained for such reproductive health care delivery;
  4. “(d) Take active steps to expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), especially among poor and marginalized women, to include the full range of reproductive health services and supplies as health insurance benefits;
  5. “(e) Strengthen the capacities of health regulatory agencies to ensure safe, legal, effective, quality, accessible and affordable reproductive health services and commodities with the concurrent strengthening and enforcement of regulatory mandates and mechanisms;
  6. “(f) Promulgate a set of minimum reproductive health standards for public health facilities, which shall be included in the criteria for accreditation. These minimum reproductive health standards shall provide for the monitoring of pregnant mothers, and a minimum package of reproductive health programs that shall be available and affordable at all levels of the public health system except in specialty hospitals where such services are provided on optional basis;
  7. “(g) Facilitate the involvement and participation of non-government organizations and the private sector in reproductive health care service delivery and in the production, distribution and delivery of quality reproductive health and family planning supplies and commodities to make them accessible and affordable to ordinary citizens;
  8. “(h) Furnish local government units with appropriate information and resources to keep them updated on current studies and researches relating to family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition; and
  9. “(i) Perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes of this Act.

The Population Commission, (POPCOM) as an attached agency of DOH, shall serve as the coordinating body in the implementation of this Act and shall have the following functions:

  1. “(a) Integrate on a continuing basis the interrelated reproductive health and population development agenda consistent with the herein declared national policy, taking into account regional and local concerns;
  2. “(b) Provide the mechanism to ensure active and full participation of the private sector and the citizenry through their organizations in the planning and implementation of reproductive health care and population and development programs and projects; and
  3. “(c) Conduct sustained and effective information drives on sustainable human development and on all methods of family planning to prevent unintended, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies.

SEC. 26. Reporting Requirements

Before the end of April of each year, the DOH shall submit an annual report to the President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report shall provide a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of its programs and those of other Government agencies and instrumentalities, civil society and the private sector and recommend appropriate priorities for executive and legislative actions. The report shall be printed and distributed to all national agencies, the LGUs, civil society and the private sector organizations involved in said programs.

The annual report shall evaluate the content, implementation and impact of all policies related to reproductive health and family planning to ensure that such policies promote, protect and fulfill reproductive health and rights, particularly of parents, couples and women.

SEC. 27. Congressional Oversight Committee

There is hereby created a Congressional Oversight Committee composed of five (5) members from the Senate and five (5) members from the House of Representatives. The members from the Senate shall be appointed by the Senate President based on proportional representation of the parties or coalition therein with at least one (1) member representing the Minority. The members from the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Speaker, also based on proportional representation of the parties or coalitions therein with at least one (1) member representing the Minority.

The Committee shall be headed by the respective Chairs of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations and the House of Representatives Committee on Population and Family Relations. The Secretariat of the Congressional Oversight Committee shall come from the existing Secretariat personnel of the Senate’ and the House of Representatives’ committees concerned

The Committee shall monitor and ensure the effective implementation of this Act, determine the inherent weakness and loopholes in the law, recommend the necessary remedial legislator or administrative measures and perform such other duties and functions as may be necessary to attain the objectives of this Act.

SEC. 28. Prohibited Acts

The following acts are prohibited:

“(a) Any healthcare service provider, whether public or private, who shall:

“(1) Knowingly withhold information or restrict the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health, including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe and effective family planning methods;

“(2) Refuse to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of third party consent or authorization. In case of married persons, the mutual consent of the spouses shall be preferred. However in case of disagreement, the decision of the one undergoing the procedure shall prevail. In the case of abused minors where parents and/or other family members are the respondent, accused or convicted perpetrators as certified by the proper prosecutorial office or court, no prior parental consent shall be necessary; and

“(3) Refuse to extend health care services and information on account of the person’s marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, personal circumstances, or nature of work; Provided, That, the conscientious objection of a healthcare service provider based on his/her ethical or religious beliefs shall be respected; however, the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another healthcare service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible who is willing to provide the requisite information and services; Provided, further, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in RA 8344 penalizing the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases.

“(b) Any public official who, personally or through a subordinate, prohibits or restricts the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning; or forces, coerces or induces any person to use such services.

“(c) Any employer or his representative who shall require an employee or applicant, as a condition for employment or continued employment, to undergo sterilization or use or not use any family planning method; neither shall pregnancy be a ground for non-hiring or termination of employment.

“(d) Any person who shall falsify a certificate of compliance as required in Section 15 of this Act; and

“(e) Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.

SEC. 29. Penalties

Any violation of this Act or commission of the foregoing prohibited acts shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of Ten Thousand (P 10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P 50,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the competent court; Provided That, if the offender is a public official or employee, he or she shall suffer the accessory penalty of dismissal from the government service and forfeiture of retirement benefits. If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration.

SEC. 30. Appropriations

The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Family Health and Responsible Parenting under the DOH and POPCOM and other concerned agencies shall be allocated and utilized for the initial implementation of this Act. Such additional sums necessary to implement this Act; provide for the upgrading of facilities necessary to meet Basic Emergency Obstetric Careand Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Carestandards; train and deploy skilled health providers; procure family planning supplies and commodities as provided in Sec. 10; and implement other reproductive health services, shall be included in the subsequent GAA.

SEC. 31. Implementing Rules and Regulations

Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the Secretary of the DOH shall formulate and adopt amendments to the existing rules and regulations to carry out the objectives of this Act, in consultation with the Secretaries of the DepED, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the DSWD, the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Commissioner of the CHED, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and two Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Peoples’ Organizations (POs) for women. Full dissemination of the Implementing Rules and Regulations to the public shall be ensured.

SEC. 32-34. Separability Clause, Repealing Clause, Effectivity

SEC. 32. Separability Clause. - If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.

SEC. 33. Repealing Clause. All other laws, decrees, orders, issuances, rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

SEC. 34. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

Approved,

-END-

 


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