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Nationwide round-up (11/09/20)

nationwide round up 11 09 20 - Nationwide round-up (11/09/20)

Cop in quarantine violation controversy is new police chief

MAJOR Gen. Debold M. Sinas, who became controversial earlier this year for having a birthday party during the strict quarantine period, has been appointed  by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as head of the police force. Mr. Sinas, head of the National Capital Region (NCR) police, is replacing Gen. Camilo P. Cascolan who is stepping down on Nov. 10 as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56. In a briefing on Monday, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said it the President’s “prerogative” to choose the head of the Philippine National Police. “Presidential appointments are really very executive in character. It is a prerogative of the President and he need not make any explanation for his appointment,” he said. Mr. Sinas made headlines in May after the NCR police office itself posted photos of his birthday celebration while the country was under lockdown rules. He later defended that the gathering was not a party but a “mañanita.” Mr. Roque said the President recognizes that Mr. Sinas is “not perfect” but chose to focus on track record, which includes his role in the administration’s anti-drug war. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Solon wants funds for underperforming GOCCs realigned for disaster relief

SUBSIDIES for nonperforming and underperforming government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) worth P200 billion would be better used for disaster relief and coronavirus response measures, a lawmaker said on Monday. Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chair of the committee on energy and economic affairs, said the amount can “augment funds” for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) recovery programs as well as restoration work in areas affected by two recent strong typhoons, Quinta and Rolly. Mr. Gatchalian issued the statement following a recent 2021 budget hearing where he noted that some P201 billion has been earmarked as subsidies for 118 GOCCs that remitted only a total of P47 billion dividends in 2019. Among these underperforming GOCCs is the Philippine National Oil Company Renewables Corp. which has already been recommended for abolition. — Angelica Y. Yang

Lawmakers reject mail-in voting

AT least three members of Congress have rejected the proposal to use mail-in voting for the 2022 national and local polls, citing possibilities of election fraud. “I am not so keen nor am I convinced that our system can adopt the mail-in voting system,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said at an online briefing on Monday. “We do not have the infrastructure needed to assure our people that the voting by mail will reflect the true intent of our people,” he said. Elections Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon last week pushed for postal voting after the United States concluded its national elections, which gave that option to voters amid the coronavirus outbreak. A bill has also been filed in the Senate proposing to allow certain sectors, such as senior citizens, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and indigenous people, to vote by mail. Senate Bill No. 1870 and House Bill No. 7572, authored by Senator Imee R. Marcos and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo, respectively, were filed in light of health crisis. Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III is also not in favor of the mail-in voting system, saying over phone message to reporters that “it’s the easiest system of voting to cheat.” Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence H. Fortun, a member of the House of Representatives suffrage and electoral reform committee, also finds the Philippine Postal Corp. vulnerable to political influence. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Online shopping sites told to self-regulate vs drug paraphernalia listings

ONLINE shopping sites should self-regulate and go after personalities involved in the sale of illegal drugs and related paraphernalia, a lawmaker said Monday, citing a surge in such transactions over the internet. “Online platforms must exercise due diligence with regards its merchants and not pass off the responsibility to law enforcement agencies to run after people who are behind these online illegal activities,” Valenzuela Rep. Weslie T. Gatchalian, committee on trade and industry chair, said during an inquiry into the alleged cases of online fraud and distribution of illegal drugs through online shopping sites or social media, citing a report from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. Meanwhile, a group of consumers urged the government to file charges against all personalities allegedly involved in illegal online transactions. Laban Konsyumer President Victorio Mario M. Dimagiba told the committee that the list should include the owners and administrators of online sites and applications. “This is happening precisely because there are currently no regulations that will compel these platforms to ensure the safety of our consumers,” Mr. Gatchalian said, as he called on the House of Representatives to pass House Bill No. 6122, or the proposed Internet Transactions Act. The proposed law will create an E-Commerce Bureau, which will go after online merchants involved in illegal transactions. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

COVID-positive Filipino workers abroad get gov’t help

A TOTAL of 3,102 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who tested positive for the coronavirus were given assistance worth nearly P30 million, the Department of Labor and Employment reported on Monday. International Labor Affairs Bureau Director Alice Q. Visperas, in a briefing, said they have given “US$621,000 (P29.9 million) to OFWs,” particularly those in countries where there is a Philippines Overseas Labor Office. Latest government data show at least 9,402 OFWs have been infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide, including 4,000 who have recovered. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Proposed law vs child marriages hurdles final Senate reading

THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the measure that will declare child marriages illegal in the Philippines. With 21 affirmative votes, no negative and abstention, the chamber passed Senate Bill No. 1373 protecting children from abuse and other forms of exploitation by penalizing persons who will arrange or officiate child marriages. “The issue of child, early and forced marriages is one that is largely invisible to us here in Metro Manila, but it is a tragic reality for scores of young girls who are forced by economic circumstances and cultural expectations to shelve their own dreams,” Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said during Monday’s session. Penalties include a fine of at least P40,000, and higher especially if the perpetrator is an ascendant, stepparent or guardian. At least three bills, prohibiting child marriage, have been filed in the House of Representatives and are pending at the committee level. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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