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Ellson Quismorio

Duterte urged to put House allies to task and resolve coco levy issue

Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to flex the muscle of his so-called “supermajority” at the House of Representatives (HOR) and pass the coco levy trust fund bill. This, as Villarin pointed to several bills on the matter that are pending in both Houses of Congress, including a version he authored under House Bill (HB) No. 2833 or An Act Establishing the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund and Providing for Its Management and Utilization “Our coconut farmers need the funds back, not more excuses,” he said, referring to the P72-billion fund. The levy refers to a Ferdinand Marcos-era tax on coconut farmers, the resulting funds of which was promised for the development of the coconut industry. A share of investments from the usage of this money was also pledged to the …

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Funeral industry review sought after QC unclaimed corpses discovery

A congressional resolution has been filed seeking a review of the rules and regulations governing the country’s funeral industry following the discovery last October 18 of at least 120 unclaimed, decomposing cadavers in a funeral home in La Loma, Quezon City. Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago cited the case of the Henry’s Funeral Parlor in filing House Resolution (HR) No. 488, noting that the funeral parlor's practices endanger the health of nearby residents. “In the Philippines, we have the Department of Health’s (DOH) Implementing Rules and Regulations on the Disposal of Dead Persons that prescribes proper procedures and requirements for burial, and requirements for crematorial and funeral establishments,” she noted in her measure. Elago also noted that despite the existence of the IRR to govern the processing of applications for location clearance of …

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Solons looking forward to gains of Duterte’s dialogue with China

Party-list lawmakers from both the Majority and Minority seem willing to give President Duterte a pass for whatever he uttered during his recent state visit to China for as long as he “brought home the bacon.”  “Rather than judge it on what the President said, I'd rather judge it with what was accomplished during the trip,” Deputy Minority Leader, COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo told House of Representatives (HOR) reporters Monday during the bi-weekly “Ugnayan” forum. Bravo underscored the investment aspect of the state visit, which would reportedly lead to the infusion of billions worth of dollars to the Philippines. “Like what (Trade) Secretary Ramon Lopez said, we have $24 billion in investment and credit pledges of $15 billion. “Siguro dito po natin titignan after a couple of weeks, months kung ito ay madadala …

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GMA to play crucial role in fixing PH–US relations if…

Should Hillary Clinton become the next U.S. president, a Filipina friend of her husband could play the crucial role of mending the ailing Philippine-American relations. Political analyst Mon Casiple said former president and current Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may take advantage of her personal and professional relationship with the presidential candidate and her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Mrs. Clinton is running opposite Republican bet, reality TV star and billionaire Donald Trump, in the U.S. presidential race next month. Arroyo and Mr. Clinton were classmates at Georgetown University in the 60s. After stepping down from the presidency in 2001, Mr. Clinton would invite Arroyo to speak at his Clinton Global Initiative meetings. “[Arroyo’s relations with the Clintons] could help [and] it is good kasi ang susi naman sa mga relasyon ay iyong may …

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Weather alerts via text

Tacloban City — Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez called on residents here to hook up with the city government's text-based early disaster warning system even as a powerful storm in Northern Luzon reminded them of their tragedy almost three years ago. "We encourage every household to register, it's free," Romualdez, referring to the Community Climate Guide and Response system (CCGR). On November 8, 2013 Super Typhoon "Yolanda" battered Visayas with 225 kilometer per hour (kph) winds and storm surges. The results were catastrophic--hundreds died, thousands were displaced, commerce screeched to a halt and the Tacloban’s collective psyche was forever scarred. "They will be alerted [via CCGR] about sudden weather changes and if Tacloban is on the path of a certain typhoon," Romualdez said. CCGR was launched for Smart and Globe subscribers last August, Romualdez's second month in …

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Solon says Filipinos want Con-Con

Somewhat going against the grain in the Charter Change (Cha-Cha) talk at the House of Representatives (HOR), Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte made the case for the Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) as the right mode for which to amend the existing Charter. Villafuerte’s main argument for choosing Con-Con? It’s what the people want. “I filed a bill to amend the Constitution via Con-Con. Based on a lot of surveys public acceptability through a Con-Con is really high. In fact, people have accepted the need to amend the Constitution and their preference really is through Con-Con,” Villafuerte told the Committee on Constitutional Amendments in its sole hearing so far on Cha-Cha measures filed in the 17th Congress. Villafuerte was referring to House Bill (HB) No. 1241. During the hearing, most of the panel members …

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House leaders withdraw Con-Con, back Con-Ass

The move to introduce changes in the 1987 Constitution via a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) has begun to snowball in the House of Representatives (HOR). This, after two House Deputy Speakers in Cebu-3rd district Rep. Gwen Garcia and Batangas 2nd district Rep. Raneo Abu both withdrew their respective measures calling for a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), which was the other popular mode for Charter change (Cha-cha) among congressmen. Garcia and Abu made their withdrawals during Wednesday’s controversial hearing by the Constitutional Amendments Committee which is chaired by Southern Leyte lone district Rep. Roger Mercado. “I crafted this bill long before events have overtaken us. This was one of the earliest bills I filed, and I called then for a Con-Con,” Garcia said, referring to her measure, House Bill (HB) No. 312. “However, since then, the administration …

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House leaders withdraw con-con measures, back con-ass

The move for all senators and representatives themselves to introduce changes in the 1987 Constitution has gained more momentum in the House of Representatives. Cebu 3rd district Rep. Gwen Garcia and Batangas 2nd district Rep. Raneo Abu, both House deputy speakers, have withdrawn their respective draft measures calling for a constitutional convention (con-con), a mode for charter change (cha-cha) popular with the solons. Garcia initially pushed for con-con—which requires the election of delegates who will draft the amendments to the constitution—in her House Bill No. 312. But she changed her mind since President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez supported a constituent assembly—wherein amendments will be drafted by the lawmakers. “In the spirit of cooperation and unity, with the direction of our present administration and the leadership of the House, I am withdrawing …

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Agot Isidro finds defenders in Congress

The Philippines needs more courageous people like Agot Isidro, the self-styled "true" minority in the House of Representatives (HOR) said on Tuesday. Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman, Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin, and Ifugao lone district Rep. Teddy Baguilat all took up the cudgels for the actress, who has been receiving flak from President Rodrigo Duterte supporters after calling out the Filipino leader on her Facebook. "We should encourage more people to speak out...let us encourage people like Agot (Isidro)," Lagman a "Magnificent Seven" member, said during their weekly press conference. Over the weekend, Isidro rebuked Duterte for his recent "foreign policy" statements wherein he told longtime-time allies like the United States and European Union (EU) to stay out of his business, especially in his all-out anti-illegal drugs campaign. In a Facebook rant, …

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Sebastian: “Illegal economy” in NBP worth P50M–P100M

The “economy” of illegal activities within the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) was once worth P50 million to P100 million, possibly even more, a convicted kidnapper and alleged drug lord Jaybee Sebastian bared. “We have money counters inside the jail,” Sebastian told the House Committee on Justice hearing Monday, October 10 while being interpellated by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, giving an idea to lawmakers just how much money is there within the penal facility. “For the record Jaybee, how much money goes around the NBP in one day?” asked Barbers, who chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs. “I’ve personally witnessed that in Building 14, there’s just 50 persons there, I’ve seen losses in dice games amounting to P4 to P10 million a night.” Sebastian, 36, told about the case of an inmate at …

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