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Chiz Vows to Fight for CHR Budget in Senate

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Sen. Chiz Escudero said he will fight to restore the budget allocation for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Senate after the House of Representatives slashed the agency’s spending package for 2018 to a meager P1,000.

“The CHR is a constitutional imperative and a necessity, however inconvenient it may be for some. I will fight to restore its budget,” Escudero said.

The Senate Committee on Finance, however, approved on the panel level on Sept. 11 the CHR’s proposed budget of P678 million, which is lower than its P749 million budget last year.

Since 2007, Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, has been filing the bill which seeks to strengthen CHR by providing an effective and expanded structural and functional organization to meet the demands of human rights cases here and abroad.

“It is unacceptable to forever regard the CHR as a toothless tiger if it is a state policy to secure protect and guarantee the dignity of its citizens and to ensure the fulfillment of such citizens’ human rights,” Escudero said.

According to the senator, under Senate Bill No. 727, the CHR will be given prosecutorial powers over delineated forms of human rights violations, which will aid the commission in ensuring effective and speedy resolution of all human rights cases filed with the CHR.

Escudero explained that the CHR, under its current mandate, is neither a judicial nor a quasi-judicial body and its jurisdiction is limited only to political and civil rights.

“The ineffectiveness of the commission is due to its failure to prosecute reported cases of human rights violations. Its hands are tied because the existing law provides only investigative and advocacy powers,” said Escudero, who is a lawyer himself.

Escudero also said the prosecutorial power sought to be granted will equip the CHR a significant power to fully realize its mandate under the Constitution.

The veteran lawmaker was at the forefront of the passage of the law decriminalizing vagrancy as well as the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act and the Anti-Torture Act when he was chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights.

He is also the sponsor of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act which provides compensation for victims of human rights violations during Martial law.

senate.gov.ph

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PDEA Aims to Free Up to 8k Barangays Yearly from Illegal Drugs

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Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino targets to free 7,000-8,000 barangays per year from illegal drugs, as President Rodrigo Duterte has four years left to fulfill his campaign promise.

“We have a timeline of four years more before the President steps down and we need to clear 7,000-8,000 barangays per year,” Aquino said during a forum on the administration’s “Rehabinasyon” program on the first day of the three-day National Information Convention (NIC) in Davao City on Monday.

Combining the Filipino words for rehabilitation and nation, “Rehabinasyon” aims to take a holistic approach to eliminating the country’s drug problem by putting a premium on the rehabilitation of drug surrenderers, saving the youth from the evils of drugs, and envisioning a drug-free nation with a better future.

The PDEA chief said more than 24,000 barangays have yet to be cleared of illegal drugs. As of Feb. 8, 2018, the Duterte administration has cleared 5,327 barangays of prohibited substances.

Aquino also reported the agency has conducted 85,068 anti-drug operations and arrested 121,087 drug personalities in anti-drug operations.

He pointed out PDEA has seized P19.61-billion worth of evidence from 9 drug laboratories and 179 drug dens.

Aquino added the agency has arrested 454 government workers, including elected officials, and rescued 618 minors.

The PDEA chief also said the agency targets to establish offices in the Philippines’ 13 key ports to stop the entry of illegal drugs in the country, noting that more than 80 percent of illegal drugs in the country comes from overseas.

The PDEA chairs the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) created by President Duterte in March 2017.

ICAD launched the Rehabinasyon program, which features three components: RealNumbers, RealSolutions, and RealStories.

Under these components, initiatives like information dissemination, treatment of drug dependents, livelihood programs, job security, and alternative modes of development will be reintroduced and implemented across the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte won the 2016 elections under the campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drugs and curb corruption in government.

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DPWH Resumes Road Repair Works on 7 Roads in Metro Manila

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The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will continue its road reblocking and repairs in the cities of Quezon and Caloocan this weekend.

According to DPWH National Capital Region Director Melvin B. Navarro, the repair and rehabilitation in six (6) major roads in Quezon City and one (1) in Caloocan City covering an area of 2,136.35 square meters will start 11 PM Friday, 16 February 2018.

In Quezon City, reblocking and repair works will be done at the northbound direction of the following roads: Visayas Avenue in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) outerlane; EDSA between Landers Street to Howmart, 5th lane; Congressional Avenue Extension corner Tandang Sora Avenue, 1st lane; Congressional Avenue from EDSA to Cagayan Street, 3rdlane; Quirino Highway from T. Urbano to Pagkabuhay Road, inner lane; and A. Bonifacio Avenue from Calavite Street to Mariveles Street, middle lane. Also included is the southbound direction of A. Bonifaco Avenue, crossing Sgt. Rivera, middle lane.

Repair works will also be undertaken at the northbound direction of Bonifacio Monumento Circle in Caloocan City.

Motorists are advised to use possible alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion in the affected areas.

Using one (1) day concrete mix, affected roads will fully open 5 AM Monday, 19 February  2018. (DPWH)

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Improved Infra, Eased Regulations to Boost Trade, Investments in ASEAN

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Member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) need to improve physical infrastructures and streamline regulatory processes in an effort to facilitate trade and investments in the region, according to a report from state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a report titled “ASEAN connectivity: The hows and whys,” PIDS information officer Neille Gwen de la Cruz noted that connectivity is important to the region’s continued economic growth and an integral factor to realize the vision of an ASEAN Community by 2025.

ASEAN leaders have adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which has the goal of achieving a “seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of Community” by the year 2025.

“Right now, ASEAN is recognized as one of the world’s largest economic zones. Making it easier to transport goods and services, reducing cumbersome processes, or simply opening more ways for people to move around the region would help facilitate the growth of ASEAN SMEs (small and medium enterprises),” said De la Cruz.

Citing an ASEAN Secretariat data, she said SMEs comprise 90 percent of companies in the region and contribute to as much as 60 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, making them the driving force of economic growth in the ASEAN.

“One of the main advantages of having an integrated region is having a seamless trade. Once the means to move from one country to another has been provided, there would be a freer flow of goods, services, and workers within and across the region, bolstering the perception that the region is an attractive market,” she added.

The PIDS report noted that an interconnected ASEAN is also envisioned to promote knowledge sharing and cultural exchange through improved physical infrastructure, streamlined regulatory processes and harmonized procedures and standards.

These are expected to create significant positive impacts on the region’s SMEs, as well as tourism and human resources, among others, it said.

“Promoting ASEAN connectivity will also boost tourism by capitalizing on the diverse history and culture of the region. Easing visa requirements across ASEAN would encourage greater mobility of people,” De la Cruz added.

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Challenges Facing Filipinos Overseas Tackled at Global Online Confab

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Senior officials of the government and private institutions will tackle different problems and challenges facing overseas Filipinos (OFs), including persistent illegal recruitment,  at a global conference for overseas Filipinos to be held here and shown live on YouTube on Feb. 24 and 25.

The “2018 Global Conference of Overseas Filipinos & Livelihood/Investments Exhibition” also aims to help OFs identify which profitable livelihood projects that they can put up back home to secure the financial security of their families.

Between January and November last year, USD28.24 billion (PHP1.41 trillion) were sent home by overseas Filipinos through banking channels, according to data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Despite their huge earnings, many OFs have not put up sound investments, with scores still taking risks with illegal networking schemes.

“While overseas Filipinos are often hailed as modern heroes (bagong bayani) for sending home over USD20 billion a year, it is ironic that they are beset by numerous problems. This global conference aims to tackle these problems and help identify solutions to them with the assistance of government and private institutions,” said Alliance of Overseas Filipinos for Change (AOFC) President Juanito Concepcion.

Investments and livelihood are, therefore, a major focus of the conference organized by a Hong Kong-based NGO, AOFC, with LINKPAD Inc. in Manila as its secretariat and marketing arm.

 Further details about the event and sponsorships can be obtained from LINKPAD at (02) 734-6300, (02) 788-6521, and (02) 500-0040, 0908-6199582; 0917-5932000 or at globalonlinefilipinoconference@gmail.com.

Up to 10,000 overseas Filipinos  gathered in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and in different other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America are expected to watch online this conference that will be shown live on YouTube and Facebook Live. (PR)

About 500 local participants — comprised of visiting OFs, OFs who have returned home for good, family members of OFs, officials of government agencies and private institutions relevant to OFs and other migration and development stakeholders — are also attending the conference.

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