Friday, June 26, 2015



The Committee on Women and Gender Equality in the House of Representatives approved the bill that aims to eliminate discriminatory practices based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity by proscribing and penalizing discriminatory practices.

“It is a basic right of every person, whether they are bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, to be free from any form of discrimination. As a representative of a marginalized group in Congress and as a woman, I support House Bill 5687 and I push for equal opportunity for all,” said AAMBIS-Owa Party list Representative Sharon Garin, one of the sponsors of the measure.

Just last Saturday night, Valkyrie, a high-end lounge and bar in Taguig City drew flak from netizens and known personalities after the bar denied entry to transgender fashion designer Veejay Floresca. Concerned netizens asserted that the incident was a clear case of gender discrimination.

If HB 5687 becomes the Anti- SOGI Discrimination Act, it shall be unlawful for employers to include sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the disclosure of sexual orientation, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, work assignment, dismissal of workers, and other human resource movement and other terms and conditions of employment.

Schools are not to refuse admission or expel a person from any educational or training institution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Any person shall not be denied access to public or private medical and other health services open to the general public on the basis of such person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Government shall ensure that no one will be denied of a professional license, clearance, certification or any other similar document issued by the government due to the applicant's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Harassment by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and the protection of rights of any person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity shall be met with a penalty

Any person who commits any SOGI-related discriminatory practice shall be penalized by a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) and / or imprisonment of not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, at the discretion of the court.

In addition, the court may impose upon a person found to have committed any of the prohibited acts the rendition of community service in terms of attendance in human rights education’s familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.

If a graver offense  motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred against sexual orientation or gender identity is committed, such shall be meted the corresponding maximum penalties depending upon the severity of the offenses.

Once the bill becomes a law, the Women and Children’s Desks now existing in all police stations, shall also act on and attend to complaints covered by the Anti-SOGI Act.

Policemen manning those desks shall undergo appropriate trainings with human rights-based approach to include among others gender sensitivity and awareness in proper terminology, dynamics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) relationships and hate crime investigations.

In crafting the measure, women’s groups, LGBT communities, business groups, members of the academe, other stakeholders, and government officials were consulted for months by the Women and Gender Equality Committee chaired by Bulacan 4th District Representative Linabelle Ruth Villarica. /MP



Senator Chiz Escudero said the Department of Education (DepEd) failed to construct a single school building to date despite an allocation of more than P40 billion for its construction program under the 2015 national budget.

“We allocated over P40 billion for the school building program for 2015 pero ni isa, June na, wala pang nagagawang school building under the 2015 budget,” Escudero told a news forum in Manila on Wednesday.

The senator cited the DepEd as among the government agencies that lacked absorptive capacity to spend, thus contributing to public underspending which was largely blamed for the disappointing economic growth in the first quarter.

At the same time, Escudero expressed his strong opposition to the public-private partnership (PPP) project being undertaken by the DepEd for the construction of new classrooms, saying it was more costly for the government.

“I’m against the PPP for classrooms kasi may pondo naman tayo e. Bakit mo gagamitin pa sa PPP ‘yung classrooms?” he pointed out.

Escudero said he did not see the need to contract out the building of classrooms under a project which the government could have easily implemented itself.

He added that the government was at the losing end of a deal that gave contractors a return rate of 10 percent, considering that it could borrow three to four percent from others.

“The mode of PPP for classroom is actually a more expensive way of borrowing to construct classrooms, when in fact we have sufficient funds to construct our own classrooms,” Escudero stressed.

Escudero said that engaging in PPP would not address the risk of corruption in infrastructure projects.

“Kung korapsyon pala ang problema e ‘yun dapat ang i-address mo. Huwag kang uutang ng mas mataas,” Escudero said. /MP

Philippines Needs More Work To Excel In SEAG

Philippines Needs More Work To Excel In SEAG

Medal Tally In The SEAG After 12-Day
Competition In Singapore.

In the midst of a blazing fireworks and kaleidoscope of visual treats, athletes, officials and fans celebrated the triumph of man and the human spirit in a final get together that brought  down the curtains on the 28th Southeast Asian Games.

Fireworks lit up the night sky with drops of multi colored hues above the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay of the Lion City in a final “celebration of the extraordinary”, the theme of the 12-day sports competition.

Athletes, who played in heated hostilities across 36 sports for 402 gold medals, gathered together in their respective sports. They hugged each other, signed autographs, exchanged uniforms and took selfies together inside the track and field stadium, main venue inside the Singapore Sports Hub.

The Philippine contingent, reduced to a group of about 60 who were led by chef de mission Julian Camacho, joined the closing ceremonies where the host city turned over the SEA Games flag to the next host Malaysia. The Sacred Flame was extinguished which ended another great and happy chapter of the SEA Games.

The Philippines, headed off to Manila with only a handful of the athletes that included the cadet players from the collegiate leagues that gave the Philippines a proud exit from the Games with a 72-64 victory over Indonesia in the gold medal match of men’s basketball.

The final gold gave the Philippines an official tally of: gold-29: silver-36: and bronze-36 medals, good for sixth place finished among the 11 nation contenders. This improved on the Philippines’ seventh place in Myanmar two years ago. It matched the gold medal effort that same year.

Critics were quick to demand a full-dress probe into another “humiliating debacle”. Nevertheless, Camacho had already made the pronouncement he was “overly satisfied” with the performance of the 465-member contingent that competed in 35 of the 36 sports.

“I am proud of everyone of Team Philippines. I am proud of all our athletes,” said Camacho, who is also head of the National Wushu Federation. “There are performers and non-performers, there are achievers and non-achievers, but all of our athletes did their best in these Games.”

Thailand, whose 93-83-68 came out number one, the champion, on the strength of a strong, continuing program that goes down to the very roots. Tiny Singapore placed second. She played the role of gracious host: awed, inspired and cheered by its citizens with the eloquence of their feats in swimming.

Vietnam with its 73-53-60 medals placed third. Fourth with 62-58-66 was Malaysia which displayed undisputed supremacy in diving, archery, bowling, rhythmic, squash and cycling. Malaysia shared the limelight in sailing.

Indonesia, the former perennial champion before Thailand rose to power in 1997, was fifth and far ahead of the Philippines with 47-61-74.

The Philippines finished sixth, at the middle of the standings, proud of the achievements of their boxers who outfought the toughest Olympics-bound Thai champions, tamed the game Singaporeans and their boisterous fans and subdued the warriors of Vietnam, which sowed fear anew in the other combat sports-wushu, taekwondo, pencak silat, fencing, boxing – and in track and field, swimming and gymnastics.

The boxers’ dominating show was matched only by the all-conquering triathletes and Blu Boys and Blu Girls in softball. The men’s basketball team prevails over the gutsy Indonesians. /MP

Complete Weapons Decommisioning Pre-Condition To BBL Approval

Complete Weapons Decommisioning Pre-Condition To BBL Approval

Senator Chiz Escudero is pushing for the inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) of a detailed timetable for decommissioning of weapons and combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to ensure the smooth transition from conflict to peace in Mindanao.

After the symbolic turnover of 75 firearms and the return to the fold of the law of 145 combatants last Tuesday, June 16, MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim said that additional decommissioning would only commence if the BBL is passed.

Escudero, however, said the MILF’s precondition only underscored the need for the Senate to scrutinize the BBL and include a timetable that will detail the entire decommissioning process.

According to Escudero, the Senate will exercise its right and do its duty to thoroughly study the proposed law, including the decommissioning process, to make sure that the MILF will abandon its armed insurgency and shun other forms of violence.

“Tama lang sa parte ng Senado na pag-aralan at timbangin ang pagsama ng proseso ng decommissioning sa panukalang batas para maliwanag at kwentas klaras ang pagsuko nila ng kanilang mga armas at maliwanag na pagtalikod sa anumang karahasan o gulo para isulong ang kanilang mga adhikain,” Escudero pointed out.

Escudero said the details of the decommissioning process must be explicitly provided in the BBL to ensure that the MILF will no longer have the capability to perpetrate acts of violence after surrendering its forces and put all its firearms beyond use.

At the same time, Escudero put to task government negotiators to explain to the public whether the approval of the BBL was a precondition to the MILF's full decommissioning.

“Lahat tayo gusto at hanap ay kapayapaan. Na hinihimay at isinasaayos ang panukalang BBL ay pagtalima sa paniniwalang 'yan upang maging mas ganap, pangmatagalan at para sa lahat ng Pilipino ang kapayapaan na ating isinusulong sa ating bansa,” Escudero said. /MP

Jessica Soho Renews Exclusive Contract with GMA Network

Jessica Soho Renews Exclusive
Contract with GMA Network
Photo shows Jessica Soho with (from left) GMA Network EVP and CFO Felipe S. Yalong; Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe L. Gozon; and President and COO Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr.
GMA News pillar Jessica Soho renews her commitment with GMA Network in a contract signing held on Monday, June 15.

Present during the signing were GMA Network Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Felipe L. Gozon; President and Chief Operating Officer Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr.; and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Felipe S. Yalong.

“Tayo ay hindi lamang nagagalak kundi very proud na pumirma ulit sa atin si Jessica.  Si Jessica ay talagang very valuable sa GMA,” says Gozon.

Soho, who is now on her 30th year in the broadcast industry, hosts the top-rating weekend news magazine program Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS) on GMA. She also anchors GMA News TV's primetime newscast State of the Nation with Jessica Soho (SONA) and banners the public affairs program Brigada.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa patuloy na pagtitiwala na ibinibigay ng GMA Network. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for GMA-7,” shares Soho.
The country’s most awarded broadcast news personality, Soho was the first Filipina to win the George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Journalism in 2000.  Her programs KMJS and SONA also helped the Network earn its fourth Peabody Award last year for its coverage of Typhoon Yolanda.  Soho was also recognized by Reader’s Digest Asia as the Most Trusted News Presenter for four consecutive years.  /MP



Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair, recently announced that the body is set to investigate reports regarding an alleged scam involving some P2 billion in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) funds.

The planned Senate probe follows a disclosure by Health Secretary Janette Garin and PhilHealth President Alex Padilla that they have uncovered “highly suspicious” benefit payments to a number of accredited hospitals and clinics based on questionable claims.

The said health officials earlier bared that they are investigating a number of eye centers in the wake of the questionable claims. They bared that one eye center alone had filed claims of close to P170 million last year, a 143 percent increase to what the clinic charged PhilHealth the previous year.

The health officials said PhilHealth has ordered that the processing of the questionable claims be stopped pending investigation.

Senator Guingona filed a resolution for the investigation of the allegations by the Senate. The resolution has been referred to the Senate Committee which he also chairs.

He said the alleged scam “is alarming” and calls for quick action on the part of government and PhilHealth officials.

“We must get down to the bottom of these right away to ensure that the funds of PhilHealth are protected from unscrupulous parties,” Senator Guingona said.

He said he is “angered” by what appears to be “an orchestrated and systematic effort to take advantage of PhilHealth”. “If the allegations are true, then greed would have taken over a good program,” he said.

“At the end of the day, PhilHealth funds are the people’s money,” Senator Guingona explained. “This is because part of its funds come from members’ contributions and from government,” he pointed out.

He said he was also concerned that private sector hospitals and clinics are being implicated in the alleged scam.

“This puts in peril the partnership of the government and the private sector in the bid to provide quality healthcare to our countrymen,” Senator Guingona added.

He said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will begin the probe on July 1, 2015.

He said all the parties involved in the issue “will be given the opportunity to present their side.” /MP



SENATOR Teofisto “TG” Guingona III is set to hear on July 7 the fourth segment of the Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation of the Defense Department’s procurement of 21 refurbished combat UH-1 helicopters. Whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez will again take the stand to reveal more details on the P1.25-billion chopper deal.

The testimony of Alvarez, a government employee previously associated with US-based Rice Aircraft Services, was last heard by the Senate committee on June 9th. In that hearing, Alvarez charged that DND and Philippine Air Force (PAF) officials colluded in bending established rules on procurement and tailor-fitting them to benefit a patently disqualified aircraft supplier, Rice Aircraft Services.

As promised during the last Senate hearing, Alvarez will share more of what she knows about some allegations she made early this month. In response, affected Defense and Air Force officials will have a chance to challenge the allegations made against them, point by point.

In a signed affidavit, Alvarez testified that Rice Aircraft Services, in joint venture with Eagle Copters Ltd., was awarded a negotiated contract after having been consistently disqualified in a series of government biddings for the purchase of combat helicopters for the AFP.

Rice Aircraft Services eventually bagged the negotiated contract worth P1.25-billion in December 2013 for 21 refurbished combat Huey UH-1 choppers on the premise that they will be delivered within 180 days.

But Defense officials will have to contend with the whistleblower’s assertion that under deliveries have been made since. Allegedly, the winning supplier is still assembling and refurbishing the bulk Huey helicopter deliveries in PAF-owned hangars in Clark Air Base, close to two years since the contract was awarded. /MP