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HOUSE ABRUPTLY, UNCEREMONIOUSLY SHUTS OUT SSS VETO OVERRIDE


FEBRUARY 4 -HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PHILIPPINES
Abruptly and unceremoniously, the House of Representatives adjourned its sessions Wednesday night to quell an attempt to force an override of President Aquino’s veto of a bill that would increase the Social Security System (SSS) pension. Without calling the roll or going through other business, House leaders moved to adjourn the legislative session until May, even as the Makabayan bloc led by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares tried to push a resolution asking the chamber to override President Aquino’s veto of the SSS bill. The bill would have raised the pension of SSS retirees by P2,000 across the board, but Mr. Aquino, in a highly unpopular decision, vetoed the proposal, arguing that it would bankrupt the SSS in a matter of years. 
Elderly guests outraged Dozens of protesters in the House gallery, most of them elderly people, were outraged at the abruptness of the adjournment. They raised a ruckus and began chanting “Override!” with some of them facing the media to air their grievances. Colmenares, who was driven to tears by the sudden adjournment, and other minority lawmakers went up to the gallery to commiserate with the protesters. With the adjournment, the 287-strong chamber slammed the door on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and other important bills such as the antidynasty and freedom of information measures. There were a number of legislative successes, though, including the passage on third reading this week of bills such as the proposed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act, the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, Foreign Investment Liberalization Act, and the two-year extension of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board. When the House resumes session in May, it will convene as a national board of canvassers for the elections, with no time for other legislative business.FULL REPORT. RELATED, Congress fails to override veto on SSS pension hike...

ALSO: Violence greets eve of election campaign
[NOTHING NEW-WALANG PAGBABAGO: The Philippines' raucous democracy cranks into top gear this week as campaigning begins for national elections, with familiar themes of corruption, dictatorship and celebrity star-power to dominate.]


FEBRUARY 8 -This combo shows file photos taken in October 2015 of Philippines presidential and vice-presidential candidates, (top L to R) the head of the main opposition party and current vice president Jejomar Binay and his running mate Senator Gringo Honasan; the adopted daughter of a late movie star, Senator Grace Poe, and her running mate Senator Chiz Escudero; (bottom L to R) current President Benigno Aquino's preferred successor and US-educated investment banker, Mar Roxas, w/ running mate Congresswoman Leni Robredo; and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos's son and vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos with his mother and former first lady Imelda Marcos. The Philippines' raucous democracy cranks into top gear this week as campaigning begins for national elections, with familiar themes of corruption, dictatorship and celebrity star-power to dominate. AFP PHOTO
A BARANGAY chairman was shot dead in Nueva Ecija while a town mayor was wounded in an ambush in the port city of Zamboanga two days before the campaign for the May local and national elections kicks off.
Police identified the fatality as Rolando Bautista, 42, a barangay chairman of San Carlos. His wife Lydia, and his sister-in-law Alice Abestejo were wounded in the attack and taken to hospital, while his one-year-old grandson who was also in the vehicle was unhurt. In Zamboanga City, a gunman riding a motorcycle opened fire on Mayor Jasper Que as he drove with his two bodyguards, at 9 a.m., police spokeswoman Senior Inspector Helen Galvez said. Que, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, suffered three gunshot wounds to his arm, leg and buttocks and was recovering in hospital, while his assailant escaped. On the cusp of the campaign period, the Philippine National Police said it has arrested more than 700 people for violating the pre-election gun ban. Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesman, said as of 8 a.m. Sunday, 746 persons have been apprehended for carrying firearms since the implementation of the Commission on Elections gun ban on Jan. 10. READ MORE...

ALSO: MILF- BBL killed by House bosses


TFEVRUARY 2 -HE Moro Islamic Liberation Front blamed House leaders Monday for their failure to pass the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and said the lack of time was merely an excuse.
“Why did the leadership in the House allow the enemies of BBL to filibuster its passage?” the MILF said in a statement posted on its website, one day after the administration gave up on the law’s passage. Without naming Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. or Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who headed the ad hoc committee on the BBL, the MILF said “the man who was supposed to be the defender of the BBL in the… House was the one causing so much confusion, short of… open defiance.” Disappointed. Members of the group 1Bangsa and other Moro chieftains express dismay over Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a media forum in Quezon City on Monday. Jansen Romero The MILF also acknowledged the impact of public outrage over the killing of 44 Special Action Forces troopers in Mamasapano in January 2015, but said it should not have been branded a massacre, since the commandos were in combat, “ready to kill and be killed.”  The group also blamed sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas Jr. for violating the ceasefire between the rebels and the government, when he failed to coordinate the troop movement with the MILF. “Nobody wanted the incident to happen, especially the MILF, but it happened. This is the reason the MILF, without distinction, expressed deep sympathy and condolence to all those who have fallen in Mamasapano on that fateful day of January 2015,” the MILF said. “There are countless exceptions, but generally Filipinos are not ready for reconciliation. Congress had just shown it.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Peace panel on BBL: Down but not out


FEBRUARY 5 -FILE - Sen. Ferdinand Marcos shakes hands with MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal after delivering a speech on the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Senate in August last year. Also in photo are presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles (right) and government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel. File photo/Kriz John Rosales
  While Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may have set back peace efforts, the government is determined to pursue lasting peace in Mindanao, with peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer declaring, “We are down, but we are not out.”
Ferrer told radio station dzBB they are “in the period of acceptance” after BBL’s demise in Congress, but are confident of seeing the next administration continue talking peace with Muslim rebels, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). She said they also expect the next Congress to decide favorably on the BBL. “What we need is more patience,” Ferrer said, as she acknowledged that Congress has been deluged with other pending measures. “Let me state the fact: the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, in whatever shape or form, did not make it out of the 16th Congress,” she said. But she stressed that the “roadmap” laid out in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) “remains viable even as we shall now be crafting adjustments in the timeline.” She bewailed what she called “sheer indifference and chronic absenteeism” of most of the legislators as manifested in the lack of a quorum almost every day in the House of Representatives. Ferrer also assailed the “prolonged and repetitive” interpellation by BBL detractors in Congress. In the Senate, she said the frequent absence of the bill sponsor and the remaining interpellator stalled the deliberation on the BBL. READ MORE...

ALSO: Drilon proud, boasts of Senate accomplishments; Enrile not satisfied
[At a Senate weekly forum, Enrile said "no" when asked if he was satisfied on the performance of his colleagues.
"I can compare none of these present senators with the past. You’re supposed to hold sessions at 3 o'clock (in the afternoon). What time do we get together? On 3:30? And then, after the roll call, no more senators," Enrile said.
He also hit the Senate's way of passing the bills on the "basis of request." "We spent our time passing local bills, name this, name that street, change that name of the barangays… It has no national impact; we have not heard any substantial legislation that protects the nation, that protects the people," he said. While the Senate was able pass many bills, it had failed to pass the proposed government pay hike and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.]


FEBRUARY 4 -SENATE President Franklin Drilon presented Thursday the Senate's accomplishments in the 16th Congress, citing 284 bills passed on third and final reading, 116 of which have been passed into law. At a Senate weekly forum, Drilon said the Senate of the 16th Congress, which he tagged as "witness to many historic firsts," passed the most number of landmark laws than any Congress in recent history. "The Senate passed on third reading a total of 284 bills and of which, 116 became laws, 59 were pending for President's approval, four bicam reports are pending in the House of Representatives for ratification, seven more in the bicam being discussed," Drilon said. "We can really show that we did our share in opening up the economy to provide better environment for investment and create jobs. Many of the laws passed languished in the legislative mill for years," he added. Among Senate bills passed into law were the Philippine Competition Act, which took more than 20 years to pass; the Cabotage Law liberalizing coastwise trading to open the market to competition and bring down the cost of transportation; and the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act enhancing transparency on tax breaks granted to private sector. Drilon noted that the Senate was able to push the Revised Insurance Code, which imposes more stringent capitalization requirements to strengthen the insurance industry; the Go Negosyo Act promoting job generation through development of the micro, small and medium enterprises; and the Philippine Lemon Law, which strengthens consumer protection in the purchase of brand new motor vehicles. READ MORE...

ALSO: Dead man walking? Enrile addresses questions regarding health, 'Lazarus' sundrome?
[At the same time, he laughed off a parody article where medical specialists are reported to be amazed with his recovery. “That is contrived, left-handed complement and thank you for saying that I have Lazarus syndrome. I have a Lazarus syndrome. I am rising from the dead and I don’t like to compete with Jesus Christ,” Enrile said.]


FEBRUARY 4 -JPE -
“Doon sa mga nag-iisip na sana patay na ako, you will have your wish one day,” Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said in jest after the Senate media and employees sang a birthday song for him on Thursday.(Those who are wishing I were dead, you will have your wish one day.) Enrile will turn 92 years old on February 14.“Thank you very much. For those who love me, thank you very, very much. For those who hate me, thank you. For those who don’t care for me one way or the other, thank you just the same. Trabaho lang ito at para sa bayan (I am just doing my obligation for the country),” he said after guesting at a weekly forum in the Senate. It was the first time that the senator faced the Senate forum since he posted bail in August last year for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam. READ: Enrile’s poor health, old age justify his release on bail–SC “It’s nice to be here and I’m ready to answer your questions. The harder, the better,” he said at the start of the forum. Enrile then answered all the questions thrown at him, including those about his health condition. “Well, I’m having a hard time to hear you. I could hardly see you, I’m having a problem walking because my balance is bad, that’s why I have people beside me and I hold on to people,” he said. READ MORE...RELATED, Enrile: “I am no Lazarus. I don’t like to compete with Jesus Christ.”


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

House shuts out SSS veto override


HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PHILIPPINES

MANILA, FEBRUARY 8, 2016 (INQUIRER) By: DJ Yap @inquirerdotnet  February 4th, 2016 -Abruptly and unceremoniously, the House of Representatives adjourned its sessions Wednesday night to quell an attempt to force an override of President Aquino’s veto of a bill that would increase the Social Security System (SSS) pension.

Without calling the roll or going through other business, House leaders moved to adjourn the legislative session until May, even as the Makabayan bloc led by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares tried to push a resolution asking the chamber to override President Aquino’s veto of the SSS bill.

The bill would have raised the pension of SSS retirees by P2,000 across the board, but Mr. Aquino, in a highly unpopular decision, vetoed the proposal, arguing that it would bankrupt the SSS in a matter of years.

Elderly guests outraged


(MB File) President Aquino was asked to reconsider his decision to block the across-the-board increase in pension of SSS retirees. (Mark Balmores/Kevin dela Cruz)

Dozens of protesters in the House gallery, most of them elderly people, were outraged at the abruptness of the adjournment.

They raised a ruckus and began chanting “Override!” with some of them facing the media to air their grievances.
Colmenares, who was driven to tears by the sudden adjournment, and other minority lawmakers went up to the gallery to commiserate with the protesters.

With the adjournment, the 287-strong chamber slammed the door on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and other important bills such as the antidynasty and freedom of information measures.

There were a number of legislative successes, though, including the passage on third reading this week of bills such as the proposed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act, the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, Foreign Investment Liberalization Act, and the two-year extension of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

When the House resumes session in May, it will convene as a national board of canvassers for the elections, with no time for other legislative business.

---------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Congress fails to override veto on SSS pension hike by Ben Rosario February 4, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share38 image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/19_pension-300x233.jpg


(MB File) President Aquino was asked to reconsider his decision to block the across-the-board increase in pension of SSS retirees. (Mark Balmores/Kevin dela Cruz)

Hold a march on Recto Avenue in Mendiola, Manila, asking President Aquino to reconsider his decision to block the across-the-board increase in pension of SSS retirees. (Mark Balmores/Kevin dela Cruz) (MB File) President Aquino was asked to reconsider his decision to block the across-the-board increase in pension of SSS retirees. (Mark Balmores/Kevin dela Cruz) A strong bipartisan support to override the presidential veto on the proposed P2,000 retirement pension hike turned out to be a failure on Wednesday night after the House of Representatives leadership abruptly adjourned plenary session.

Lawmakers and at least 200 senior citizens who eagerly waited two hours for the override resolution to be taken up on the floor raised a howl of protest after the move by Malacanang-allied solons.

However, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, a principal mover of the override resolution, remained hopeful of a successful rejection of Aquino’s decision to turn down the proposed pension hike.

“Congress will reconvene on May 23 to June 10, 2016, and I will again move for the override of the veto,” said Colmenares.

A total 57 solons that included the whole membership of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition, United Nationalist Alliance, Lakas-CMD and the House minority and independent minority blocs, signed the resolution calling for an override President Aquino’s veto of the bill proposing to increase by P2,000 the monthly pensionof Social Security System retirees.

Disgruntled senior citizens and SSS retirees who awaited for House action angrily pledged to campaign against Liberal Party presidential bet Mar Roxas and other Aquino-backed candidates in the 2016 elections.

Reps. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna) and Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) chided Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II for allegedly orchestrating the adjournment in the wake of his earlier claim that 213 congressmen were already present.

“There was a quorum last night with at least 213 congressmen in the House premises according to the House Secretariat itself.This means the Majority did not have the votes to quell the override and decided to even sacrifice the passage of their priority bills like the PPP bill just to avoid losing the vote on override. ” said Colmenares.


PHOTO ; Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II -News Report: House weak to overrule President – Gonzales “At the rate we’re going… I’m not even confident that we can have a quorum everyday. The more reason [there’s a] difficulty of getting a vote of two-thirds,” Gonzales added. At least 191 of the 287 remaining House members would have to vote to approve a vetoed measure to overturn the President’s decision. On Tuesday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. admitted that the tax-reform measure can no longer be passed by the House of Representatives this Congress due to President Aquino’s opposition. FROM POLITICS.COM

Atienza, a stickler of the quorum rule, assailed as “grossly unfair, undemocratic and dictatorial” the alleged decision of the House leadership.

“Binastos ang mga miyembro ng Kongreso. You do not do that in a civilized society,” stated Atienza during the usaping Balita News Forum in Quezon City.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe lamented that leaders of the chamber did not allow the calling of rolls to determine whether or not there were indeed enough congressmen present to constitute a quorum.

Atienza said regular business was taken up after Deputy Speaker Carlos Padilla called the session to order. He was then assured that there was nothing wrong since there were already 213 congressmen present.

“If there were indeed 213 congressmen at that time, we should have been allowed to vote on the override resolution,” the partylist solon stressed.

Both Atienza and Colmenares were confident that the required 192 votes, representing 2/3 of the House membership, would have been easily gathered had the House leadership allowed voting.

“Many senior citizens came here with the hope to witness the override of Pres. Aquino’s veto of the P2000 Social Security System (SSS) pension increase. They braved the heat of the sun and the rains to lobby their congressmen to vote for the override, and then suddenly the House leadership unceremoniously and abruptly ended the session without allowing a vote on the override motion,” Colmenares lamented.


MANILA STANDARD

Violence greets eve of campaign posted February 08, 2016 at 12:01 am by Ferdie G. Domingo and AFP, PNA


This combo shows file photos taken in October 2015 of Philippines presidential and vice-presidential candidates, (top L to R) the head of the main opposition party and current vice president Jejomar Binay and his running mate Senator Gringo Honasan; the adopted daughter of a late movie star, Senator Grace Poe, and her running mate Senator Chiz Escudero; (bottom L to R) current President Benigno Aquino's preferred successor and US-educated investment banker, Mar Roxas, and his running mate Congresswoman Leni Robredo; and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos's son and vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos with his mother and former first lady Imelda Marcos. The Philippines' raucous democracy cranks into top gear this week as campaigning begins for national elections, with familiar themes of corruption, dictatorship and celebrity star-power to dominate. AFP PHOTO

A BARANGAY chairman was shot dead in Nueva Ecija while a town mayor was wounded in an ambush in the port city of Zamboanga two days before the campaign for the May local and national elections kicks off.

Police identified the fatality as Rolando Bautista, 42, a barangay chairman of San Carlos. His wife Lydia, and his sister-in-law Alice Abestejo were wounded in the attack and taken to hospital, while his one-year-old grandson who was also in the vehicle was unhurt.

In Zamboanga City, a gunman riding a motorcycle opened fire on Mayor Jasper Que as he drove with his two bodyguards, at 9 a.m., police spokeswoman Senior Inspector Helen Galvez said.

Que, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, suffered three gunshot wounds to his arm, leg and buttocks and was recovering in hospital, while his assailant escaped.

On the cusp of the campaign period, the Philippine National Police said it has arrested more than 700 people for violating the pre-election gun ban.

Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesman, said as of 8 a.m. Sunday, 746 persons have been apprehended for carrying firearms since the implementation of the Commission on Elections gun ban on Jan. 10.

READ MORE...

These include 711 civilians, five police officers, 11 government officials, 12 security guards, five employees of a law enforcement agency, and two members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, Mayor said.

He added that the PNP confiscated 592 firearms, 4,609 deadly weapons, 25 grenades, seven other explosives, 21 firearm replicas, 212 bladed or pointed weapons and 4,344 rounds of ammunition.

The three-month campaign begins Tuesday with most interest focusing on a crowded contest to succeed President Benigno Aquino III.

There are myriad other sub-plots, including a bid by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son to take the vice presidency and eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao’s run for a Senate seat.

The jailhouse campaigns of two politicians charged with murder who are running in local mayoral elections, as well as detained former President Gloria Arroyo’s run for a third term as congresswoman fuel a sizzling political atmosphere of chaos and chicanery.

There are four major contenders in the battle to move into the presidential palace and most analysts predict the deciding factors will—as usual—be name recognition and charisma rather than ideology or policy.

“In the Philippines, elections are like a circus with the candidates trying to attract attention with their performances,” Earl Parreno, an analyst at the Manila-based Institute for Political and Economic Reform, said.

“Programs and policies are secondary... it’s a personality contest.”

Aquino won in a landslide six years ago largely due to the popularity of his parents, who led the democracy movement that saw Marcos flee into US exile in 1986.

Aquino’s preferred successor is US-educated investment banker Manuel Roxas II, a trusted ally with many years governing experience who is vowing to continue the President’s “straight path” agenda.

But Roxas, 58, is trailing in polls and analysts say he has a huge task to ignite an electorate that generally perceives him as having little charisma.

“He is dry, he can’t connect to ordinary people,” Parreno said.

In contrast is Vice President Jejomar Binay, 73, a natural campaigner who grew up in poverty but rose to become one of the nation’s most powerful politicians.

Binay heads the main opposition party but he has had to endure a barrage of corruption allegations.

A Senate committee recently recommended Binay be charged with graft for kickbacks allegedly taken during his long stint as mayor of the nation’s financial capital, Makati.

Binay denies the allegations, insisting they are part of a smear campaign by his opponents and that his family’s new riches have been earned legitimately.

Meanwhile, he has sought to portray himself as the man of the poor through slick TV and Internet video clips.

Another top contender for the presidency is Senator Grace Poe, 47, the adopted daughter of a dead movie star whose success so far can largely be attributed to her father’s enduring popularity.

However, the Supreme Court could knock her out of the race before the May 9 elections, with justices currently listening to arguments she is ineligible based on citizenship and residency laws.

The Constitution requires presidents have Filipino parents. But Poe does not know who her biological parents are. Complicating matters, she lived in the United States for many years and took US citizenship before renouncing it.

Binay and Poe have over recent months swapped top spot in popularity surveys. The latest poll, released on Saturday, showed Poe edging back ahead by a small margin.

The wildcard contender is Rodrigo Duterte, 70, a controversial figure nicknamed “The Punisher” for his ruthless but successful tactics fighting crime as mayor of Davao.

Human rights groups have accused Duterte of running vigilante “death squads” that killed suspected criminals.

Duterte has denied leading death squads but gave a speech late last year in which he bragged about killing drug traffickers.

His vows to clean up crime and end corruption in the nation of 100 million people have won him many fans, both rich and poor.

Meanwhile, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the dead dictator, has a strong chance to become the Philippines’ next vice president, currently in second place in polling.

His father and mother, Imelda, are accused of plundering billions of dollars from state coffers and overseeing widespread human rights abuses.

The senator says he has nothing to apologize for and is counting on voters­—many of whom were born after the 1986 “People Power” revolution—to cement a remarkable political comeback for the family.


MANILA STANDARD

MILF: BBL killed by House bosses posted February 02, 2016 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front blamed House leaders Monday for their failure to pass the Palace-backed Bangsamoro Basic Law and said the lack of time was merely an excuse.

“Why did the leadership in the House allow the enemies of BBL to filibuster its passage?” the MILF said in a statement posted on its website, one day after the administration gave up on the law’s passage.

Without naming Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. or Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who headed the ad hoc committee on the BBL, the MILF said “the man who was supposed to be the defender of the BBL in the… House was the one causing so much confusion, short of… open defiance.”

Disappointed. Members of the group 1Bangsa and other Moro chieftains express dismay over Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law during a media forum in Quezon City on Monday. Jansen Romero The MILF also acknowledged the impact of public outrage over the killing of 44 Special Action Forces troopers in Mamasapano in January 2015, but said it should not have been branded a massacre, since the commandos were in combat, “ready to kill and be killed.”

The group also blamed sacked SAF commander Getulio Napeñas Jr. for violating the ceasefire between the rebels and the government, when he failed to coordinate the troop movement with the MILF.

“Nobody wanted the incident to happen, especially the MILF, but it happened. This is the reason the MILF, without distinction, expressed deep sympathy and condolence to all those who have fallen in Mamasapano on that fateful day of January 2015,” the MILF said.

“There are countless exceptions, but generally Filipinos are not ready for reconciliation. Congress had just shown it.”

READ MORE...

The MILF made clear it did not blame President Benigno Aquino III, who pushed for the passage of the BBL. It also praised the efforts of Muslim lawmakers, particularly Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, and Reps. Tupay Loong, and Bai Sandra Sema.

Opposition lawmakers, on the other hand, said the administration had nobody else to blame but itself for the failure to pass a meaningful peace agreement with the Muslim rebels.

“The failure to pass a meaningful basic law was killed by President Aquino when he allowed the installment… emasculation by his allies of the original basic law submitted by the drafting commission,” said Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, on the other hand, said the negotiating panels were to blame. “If the negotiating panels from the government and the MILF submitted to Congress a perfectly legal peace document, then it would be easy for Congress to work on this,” he said.

Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting defended Belmonte, saying it was unfair to blame him for the failure to pass the BBL. “The Speaker did his best,” he said.

Earlier, Belmonte admitted that the BBL had no chance of being passed in the 16th Congress.

“[There is no] question that it won’t become a law even if we pass our version, [because] the Senate has not been acting on it,” Belmonte said. BBL advocates in the House such as Balindong said Congress wasted too much time, and admitted that he was no longer hopeful that the bill would pass with only two session days left.

The BBL, the lynchpin in the government’s peace accord with the MILF, was supposed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a new Bangsamoro region with more autonomy.

The proposed BBL, if passed into law, shall abolish the current ARMM by creating a new Bangsamoro region which will be given additional autonomy.

But lawmakers objected to provisions that they said were unconstitutional, and efforts to pass the bill were derailed by the Mamasapano massacre.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said even if this Congress does not pass the BBL, the peace agreement is not dead.

“I think it is to the national interest that whoever is the next president should pursue the peace process,” he said Monday.

The BBL, he said, should be filed again in the 17th Congress.

The Palace said the government is continuing to strengthen the mechanisms for a peaceful transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the non-passage of the BBL meant the rebels would not surrender their weapons under the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“So what we are doing is strengthening the mechanisms for the peaceful transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro, which is the core of roadmap for the full settlement of the armed conflict,” Coloma said.

The government’s chief peace negotiator admitted Sunday that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was dead and urged the next administration to pick up where the Aquino administration left off.

In an interview over radio dzBB, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, who headed the peace negotiations with the MILF, said there was no hope that Congress would pass the Palace-backed BBL with a few session days left.

She also urged the MILF not to use its 10,000 firearms during the coming elections. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Sandy Araneta


PHILSTAR

Peace panel on BBL: Down but not out By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated February 5, 2016 - 12:00am 3 56 googleplus0 0


FILE - Sen. Ferdinand Marcos shakes hands with MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal after delivering a speech on the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Senate in August last year. Also in photo are presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles (right) and government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel. File photo/Kriz John Rosales

MANILA, Philippines – While Congress’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may have set back peace efforts, the government is determined to pursue lasting peace in Mindanao, with peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer declaring, “We are down, but we are not out.”

Ferrer told radio station dzBB they are “in the period of acceptance” after BBL’s demise in Congress, but are confident of seeing the next administration continue talking peace with Muslim rebels, particularly the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

She said they also expect the next Congress to decide favorably on the BBL.

“What we need is more patience,” Ferrer said, as she acknowledged that Congress has been deluged with other pending measures.

“Let me state the fact: the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, in whatever shape or form, did not make it out of the 16th Congress,” she said.

But she stressed that the “roadmap” laid out in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) “remains viable even as we shall now be crafting adjustments in the timeline.”

She bewailed what she called “sheer indifference and chronic absenteeism” of most of the legislators as manifested in the lack of a quorum almost every day in the House of Representatives.

Ferrer also assailed the “prolonged and repetitive” interpellation by BBL detractors in Congress.

In the Senate, she said the frequent absence of the bill sponsor and the remaining interpellator stalled the deliberation on the BBL.

READ MORE...

“Moreover, a belated change in procedure was entertained. Only last December, the Senate practically conceded that the Bangsamoro bill is of local application and therefore the upper chamber should have just waited for the House version to be remanded to it,” Ferrer said.

Waste of taxpayers’ money She said the 40 public hearings and 14 plenary deliberations conducted by the House ad hoc committee chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and the 15 public hearings and 14 sessions of plenary interpellations led by local governments committee chair Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “amounted to nothing,” with millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money going to waste.

“It is only to be expected that the Filipino people, especially those in the Bangsamoro who had pinned high hopes on this new law, are grieving, hurting and once again, dreading what tomorrow may bring,” Ferrer said.

But she made clear the “collective inaction” of legislators on the BBL “will not stop the momentum” of the peace process.

“At this low point, we call for sobriety and perseverance. The work many among us started and accomplished together through 17 years of hard negotiations and vigorous efforts to jumpstart and move the implementation of the road map cannot be taken away,” she pointed out.

Ferrer emphasized the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) “still binds the government and the MILF to their respective obligations” of working for peace and reforms.

Ferrer reiterated that CAB takes into consideration the diverse interests of different stakeholders in the so-called Bangsamoro region, and provides the guideposts to institute meaningful autonomy and promote social justice through equitable distribution of wealth and political power in Muslim Mindanao.

She said it was the same obligations that the 1987 Constitution has mandated Congress to do.

“The agreement also provides for a gradual and phased process of decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants,” Ferrer said.

“It addresses the threat posed by other armed groups and creates the spaces for the convergence of other Bangsamoro claimants such as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the new autonomous government envisioned,” she said, referring to CAB.

The peace panel chair also said CAB includes transitional justice and reconciliation measures designed to “address historical injustices and heal the wounds of war, and remove the biases and prejudices that have created the huge gap in understanding and affection” between the Filipino majority and the minority.

“It took a long time to get to this set of practical steps. We need to take away the fear and distrust of the Bangsamoro for our country to become whole,” Ferrer maintained.

“We therefore urge our politicians and fellow citizens to take the time to study the history of the conflict and the peace process so as to get a better understanding of the road map and our unflinching efforts to see it through,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said that as members of the government negotiating panel, “we will do everything in the remaining time we have to ensure that the infrastructure for implementing the peace accord are fully functional so that the next administration will be in a good position to carry forward the full implementation of the agreement.”

Still, partner for peace

Even if the BBL was unable to hurdle Congress, the government still considers the MILF a reliable partner for peace in Mindanao.

“We note the assurance given by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal on continuing to work with the government in promoting the peace process even beyond the present administration,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

Since the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in October 2012, Coloma said the MILF has demonstrated its capacity for keeping the peace in Mindanao.

“Government will persevere in its efforts to implement the CAB, which serves as a roadmap for resolving internal armed conflict in Mindanao,” he said.

The MILF, in an editorial posted on its official website, has blamed hardline lawmakers for the fate of the BBL and acknowledged the Mamasapano incident has prompted many lawmakers to take a critical stand on the issue.

It also acknowledged President Aquino’s vigorous effort to work for the measure’s approval in Congress and his blaming lawmakers for the unfavorable outcome of their deliberation on the BBL.

The rebel group did not give a hint of what it intends to do next, but a spokesman has repeatedly raised fears of disillusionment among young fighters who may be lured into joining radical groups like the Islamic State.

But Iqbal was also quoted as saying Congress’ failure to pass the BBL was not the end of the world for them and that the quest for peace in Mindanao would continue.

Mamasapano to blame Disputing Ferrer’s claim that lawmakers’ inaction was to blame for BBL’s fate, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the measure would have easily seen the light had it not been for the Mamasapano incident.

“Unfortunately, that incident intervened and at a certain point Senator Enrile availed of the period of interpellation and Senator Marcos could not be at the floor every day, so there was a delay,” Drilon said, referring to Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Marcos, the principal author of the measure at the Senate.

“I would suggest to professor Ferrer that you know, she should pursue the peace process. As I said, there is an existing Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and we should pursue this. The BBL is just one of the items in this comprehensive agreement,” Drilon said.

He also called Ferrer “misinformed” for criticizing the Senate’s move to wait for the House.

“Now I can show to her our legislative history which would indicate that as a matter of practice and as a matter of the interpretation of the Constitution, laws pertaining to the ARMM are always considered as bills of local application,” Drilon said.

Such laws, he explained, are “tackled by the House first and referred to the Senate after they pass it and that is when we pass our own version.”

Drilon said that it would be up to the next administration to decide if it wants to pursue the BBL again.

“But it is foolhardy for the next administration not to pursue the peace process, and that includes honoring the peace agreement. They may tweak it in some areas, but in general the peace process should be pursued. I would recommend that to the next president,” Drilon said.

“I have confidence in the maturity of our Muslim brothers that this is democracy, we have to go through a process, and maybe this failure to pass the BBL this time would provide us and allow us more maturity to reexamine everything,” he added.

Enrile, for his part, said the BBL would not be acceptable to the majority of the people in the country and would not bring peace to Mindanao.

“They mangled the Constitution and it will not bring peace in Mindanao. It will explode a bigger problem,” he said.

He added giving the proposed Bangsamoro immense power would be dangerous, especially to non-Muslims.

“The government is already afraid of them now, what more if they already have that. Many non-Muslims in Mindanao will be affected. There will be civil war there,” Enrile said.

Negotiators’ fault For Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, the BBL’s death in the current Congress was the fault of peace negotiators and not the President.

“He met with us two or three times, and during the last days of session, he even called or sent text messages to House members to ask them to attend the session,” he said.

However, he said the draft BBL was “really a hard sell” that lawmakers could not accept.

“And I am blaming the peace panel for this, because they agreed to so many things that they should not have accepted in the first place, including the creation of a state within a state,” he added.

Lobregat accused government peace negotiators of violating Aquino’s directives in their talks with the MILF.

He said the President’s instructions were for the panel to be “mindful of the Constitution, that it should learn from the lessons of the past like the junking of previous agreements, that it should not promise what the government cannot deliver, and that it should be transparent and consultative.”

“Most of the BBL provisions they agreed to violate the Constitution and existing laws and are against the national interest,” he said.

He said the Mamasapano incident served as an “eye opener” for lawmakers to scrutinize the proposed law that seeks to create an autonomous region which, in its first few years, would be dominated by the MILF.

“This incident turned the tide against the proposed BBL,” he stressed.

ARMM good enough Lobregat also said there is nothing wrong with the present law that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“I disagree with the claim of the government peace panel that ARMM is a failed experience. The failure lies in the people who ran it, not in the law. Look at the record of the present ARMM leadership. Gov. Mujiv Hataman has accomplished so much in so short a time,” he said.

But Rep. Lito Atienza of party-list group Buhay said Aquino did not push his congressional allies enough to pass the BBL bill.

“I know the ways in Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives. If the President pushes hard enough, he gets what he wants. In the case of the BBL, political will was obviously lacking,” he told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye restaurant in Quezon City.

In the past, he said Aquino got his allies to approve equally controversial measures like the Reproductive Health Bill and the measure that increased excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.

Both Atienza and Lobregat said they hope the MILF would remain calm and interested in peace even without the BBL.

They said if the BBL bill is re-introduced in the next Congress, they would continue to scrutinize it should they get reelected.

Meanwhile, Marcos said continuing the peace process even without the BBL is the country’s best defense against extremist groups like ISIS.

“It’s not a question of blaming, pointing of fingers one way or the other, we really tried to finish it, but we just couldn’t do it,” he said.

Marcos also lauded Iqbal for reaffirming his commitment to peace.

“While he admitted that he has no idea how the MILF will proceed from the agreement’s non-passage, he expressed hope that a solution will be reached to remedy the situation, including going back to the negotiating table to review the agreement,” he said. Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy, Perseus Echeminada, Roel Pareño


INQUIRER

Drilon proud, boasts of Senate accomplishments; Enrile not satisfied Thursday, February 04, 2016
By RUTH ABBEY GITA


DRILON

SENATE President Franklin Drilon presented Thursday the Senate's accomplishments in the 16th Congress, citing 284 bills passed on third and final reading, 116 of which have been passed into law.

At a Senate weekly forum, Drilon said the Senate of the 16th Congress, which he tagged as "witness to many historic firsts," passed the most number of landmark laws than any Congress in recent history.

"The Senate passed on third reading a total of 284 bills and of which, 116 became laws, 59 were pending for President's approval, four bicam reports are pending in the House of Representatives for ratification, seven more in the bicam being discussed," Drilon said.

"We can really show that we did our share in opening up the economy to provide better environment for investment and create jobs. Many of the laws passed languished in the legislative mill for years," he added.

Among Senate bills passed into law were the Philippine Competition Act, which took more than 20 years to pass; the Cabotage Law liberalizing coastwise trading to open the market to competition and bring down the cost of transportation; and the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act enhancing transparency on tax breaks granted to private sector.

Drilon noted that the Senate was able to push the Revised Insurance Code, which imposes more stringent capitalization requirements to strengthen the insurance industry; the Go Negosyo Act promoting job generation through development of the micro, small and medium enterprises; and the Philippine Lemon Law, which strengthens consumer protection in the purchase of brand new motor vehicles.

READ MORE...

The Senate Leader also cited the enactment into law of a measure increasing tax exemption ceiling on the 13th month pay from P30,000 to P80,000; the bill modernizing the country's state weather bureau; and the measure mandating the broadcast of free mobile alerts to all mobile users during times of calamities.

Drilon said the Senate likewise succeeded in passing laws seeking to improve the country's educational services, such as Iskolar ng Bayan Act, Ladderized Education Act, Open High School System, Open Distance Learning in Tertiary Education Act, and the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education Act.

The measure to help all senior citizens that was enacted into law, Drilon said, was Automatic PhilHealth Coverage.

He said political and judicial reform laws like the Sandiganbayan Reform Law speeding up the resolution and anti-graft and corruption cases in the said court; and the Probation Law expanding the benefit of probation for more eligible convicts and pushing for their rehabilitation were also passed.

Drilon further said the country's first law with an anti-political dynasty provision, the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law, got the President's approval.

He also stressed that the 16th Congress was hit by "one of the fiercest political storms in recent history."

"It was the first Congress, which saw three of its members were jailed for charges of corruption due to the pork barrel scam - two of them are still in jail, while the other is out on bail," he said.

Drilon was referring to detained Senators Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile who was temporarily freed from detention.

The Senate, Drilon said, had also become the "battleground of many political battles," citing investigations conducted against Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Mamasapano debacle.

He also noted how the Senate had regained the public's trust.

"In the last quarter of 2015, the Senate, as an institution, received the highest approval rating of 47 percent in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia," the Senate Leader said.

"Indeed, public trust and approval to the Senate has been restored. Indeed, the only way to win the hearts and minds of our people is to work hard and fulfill our mandates which we did," he added.

Enrile, however, expressed dismay over Senate's accomplishment and called the passage of numerous bills "politics in aid of election."


ENRILE

At a Senate weekly forum, Enrile said "no" when asked if he was satisfied on the performance of his colleagues.

"I can compare none of these present senators with the past. You’re supposed to hold sessions at 3 o'clock (in the afternoon). What time do we get together? On 3:30? And then, after the roll call, no more senators," Enrile said.

He also hit the Senate's way of passing the bills on the "basis of request."

"We spent our time passing local bills, name this, name that street, change that name of the barangays… It has no national impact; we have not heard any substantial legislation that protects the nation, that protects the people," he said.

While the Senate was able pass many bills, it had failed to pass the proposed government pay hike and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Some of the measures that had been rejected and vetoed by the President were the income tax reform bill and the proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase in the pension on Social Security System members.

The Senate is on adjournment until May 23 to give way in the coming May 9 local and national elections. (Sunnex)


INQUIRER

Dead man walking? Enrile addresses questions regarding health SHARES: 2675 VIEW COMMENTS By: Maila Ager @MAgerINQ INQUIRER.net 04:07 PM February 4th, 2016



“Doon sa mga nag-iisip na sana patay na ako, you will have your wish one day,” Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said in jest after the Senate media and employees sang a birthday song for him on Thursday.

(Those who are wishing I were dead, you will have your wish one day.)


Enrile will turn 92 years old on February 14.

“Thank you very much. For those who love me, thank you very, very much. For those who hate me, thank you. For those who don’t care for me one way or the other, thank you just the same. Trabaho lang ito at para sa bayan (I am just doing my obligation for the country),” he said after guesting at a weekly forum in the Senate.

It was the first time that the senator faced the Senate forum since he posted bail in August last year for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

READ: Enrile’s poor health, old age justify his release on bail–SC

“It’s nice to be here and I’m ready to answer your questions. The harder, the better,” he said at the start of the forum.
Enrile then answered all the questions thrown at him, including those about his health condition.

“Well, I’m having a hard time to hear you. I could hardly see you, I’m having a problem walking because my balance is bad, that’s why I have people beside me and I hold on to people,” he said.

Asked about a report that medical specialists were studying his alleged “miraculous” recovery from being in his sickbed in a detention, Enrile called it was a lie and “silly.”

READ: Scientists studying ailing PH senator’s miraculous recovery

He said the report, including the two photos of him supposedly showing his physical condition before and after he was allowed to post bail by the court.

“That’s silly. Alam mo sasabihin ko sayo, kalokohan. Nabasa ko ‘yun e. ‘Yung nilabas nila na litrato ko before I was bailed? Totoo ‘yun, inakay ako, I was going in the car from the PGH when that picture was taken,” Enrile said.

(That’s silly. You know it’s baloney. I actually read it. The one showing my picture before I was bailed? That’s true, I was being assisted going in the car from the PGH when the picture was taken.)

“Yung pangalawang litrato, luma ‘yun . Nakuha ‘yun sa Batasang Pambansa, naka Barong Tagalog ako during a state of the nation address kaya makita mo ‘yung mga tauhan ko, naka Baranong Tagalog din, meron silang mga tag, identification kaya kasinungalingan ‘yun.”


Enrile also laughed off the comparison of his case to that of the Lazarus syndrome.

“I’m rising from the dead, I don’t like to compete with Jesus Christ,” the senator added.
IDL

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RELATED FROM POLITICS.COM

Enrile: “I am no Lazarus. I don’t like to compete with Jesus Christ.”



Turning 92 years old this Valentine’s Day, Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile laughed about his deteriorating health condition even as he remained steadfast in saying that he will be acquitted of the plunder charges filed against him.

Speaking at a weekly forum at the Senate, Enrile talked about the possibility of passing away, telling his enemies who want him dead that he may grant their wish one day. “To those who are wishing I were dead, you will have your wish one day,” Enrile said..

Prior to this, Enrile thanked his supporters and even his bashers.

“Thank you very much. For those who love me, thank you very, very much. For those who hate me, thank you. For those who don’t care for me one way or the other, thank you just the same. Trabaho lang ito at para sa bayan (I am just doing my obligation for the country),” he said.

Asked about his health, Enrile said he admitted having difficulties in hearing, his sight and balance.


.....still yet Lazarus withered away, but alas at the appointed time Jesus raised him back up to life. Israel's sickness likewise is not meant unto death; yet Israel also withered away, even unto a valley of dry bones; but.....Hallelujah FOCUSONJERUSALEM.COM

Contrary to reports that he merely used his health condition as an excuse to post bail, Enrile told reporters that his blood pressure are checked daily to make sure that his BP does not shoot up. He also got maintenance medicines.

“Well, I am having a hard time to hear you, I could hardly see you. I am having a problem walking because my balance is bad. I have people beside me, so I can hold onto them,” Enrile said.

At the same time, he laughed off a parody article where medical specialists are reported to be amazed with his recovery.

“That is contrived, left-handed complement and thank you for saying that I have Lazarus syndrome. I have a Lazarus syndrome. I am rising from the dead and I don’t like to compete with Jesus Christ,” Enrile said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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