TAÑADA ON THE PASSAGE OF THE SSS BILL: “IT’S A MINI-TRIPLE STIMULUS PACKAGE”

Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (Liberal Party, 4th District, Quezon) hailed the passage on third reading in the House of Representatives HB 5922. This bill, authored by Tañada together with Representatives Raul del Mar and Amelita Villarosa will grant the Social Security System a one-time authority to condone the penalties slapped on unpaid employers’ remittances.

He called it a triple mini-stimulus package because first, it provides a strong incentive for companies that have been in arrears on their principal payments for their employees’ contributions to immediately settle what is due and overdue, minus the huge burden of dealing with the delinquency penalties that have been slapped on them. According to Tañada, the 3 percent a month penalty is indeed burdensome and once in arrears and not quickly addressed, it can really pile up. So this is a stimulus package for these troubled companies, companies that, by and large, do not want to be delinquent in the first place, but because of the series of crises that hit our country, failed to remit what is due as the employers’ share for their employees contributions to SSS.

Second, he said that by providing this breathing space for troubled companies, we are actually helping SSS to immediately collect about P57 billion of the P95 billion overdue principal payments which would otherwise be difficult to collect. A lot of troubled companies choose not to pay what SSS demands of them because the penalties that have accumulated are actually bigger than the principal that they should have been paid. Of the P325.5 billion that is collectible by SSS as of 31 May 2008, P230.82 billion is accounted for by penalties and only P94.6 billion is accounted for by the principal payments that are due. Past SSS condonation experience shows that on average, 60% of those which have accumulated principal payments chose to settle what is due in outright cash. Sixty percent of P94.6 billion is P57 billion which could easily beef up SSS’ coffers. That is the stimulus package for SSS.

Third, Tañada thinks that this is the most important and immediately needed stimulus package directed at ordinary, privately employed individuals. “With collected and settled principal payments for the SSS members’ contributions, they can now avail of the privileges of a good standing SSS member – claim benefits and get loans – benefits that would otherwise not be available had their principal payments remain unsettled. That’s the stimulus package for ordinary, privately employed individuals.”

Tañada who chaired the technical working group of the Committee on Government Enterprises that prepared the draft substitute bill shared that the TWG was quite conscious in finding a middle ground so that they are able to help companies which have been unable to settle obligations with the SSS without sacrificing SSS’s financial viability and actuarial life.

“We were also quite conscious that we do not unduly reward those who have been remiss with their obligations to the disadvantage of companies who have been very diligent in making timely payments to the SSS. Those who have been remiss with their contributions would still have to pay penalties but not as huge as what the SSS charges them. The bill provides a sliding scale of condonation depending on the mode of settling the overdue SSS contributions. Those who choose to settle the principal payments even before this bill is passed into law will only pay one percent of the penalties that are being charged by the SSS. Those who choose to settle with outright cash payment the principal that is due to the SSS after this is passed into law will have to pay 5% of the penalties being charged them. Finally, those who choose to pay the principal on an installment basis will have to still pay 15% of the penalties that is due,” he described.

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TAÑADA ELATED WITH THE PASSAGE OF THREE HUMAN RIGHTS BILLS

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Thursday night the Anti-Torture (House Bill 5709) Anti-Involuntary Disappearance (HB 5886) and the Protection of Victims of Internal Displacement (HB 5864).

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III who chairs the House Committee on Human Rights and who is one of the co-authors of said bills hopes that his Senate counterpart would act on the same measures quickly. He likewise gave credit to the tireless efforts of the bills’ principal authors, Cong. Edcel Lagman for the Anti-Torture and Anti-Involuntary Disappearance, Cong. Risa Baraquel for the Protection of Victims of Internal Displacement, Cong. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Cong. Mat Defensor who chairs the House Committee on Justice to which the first two bills were principally referred to.

“I hope this paves the way to greater state responsibility in ensuring and protecting the rights of our people. Congress can just legislate but in the end, it is still the executive who will implement these laws,” he said.

The Anti-Involuntary Disappearance Bill, or House Bill 5886, describes involuntary disappearance as one of the most cruel forms of human rights violations. It adopts the United Nations definition of enforced or involuntary disappearance, which is when a person is arrested, detained or abducted against his will by officials or employees of government agencies who subsequently refuse to acknowledge taking custody of the victims. The state is required to ensure the safety of all people involved in the search for the missing and the investigation and prosecution of cases. The bill emphasizes the duty of securing the welfare of victims, their families and witnesses.

The Philippines has been seeing a spate of enforced disappearances, mostly of left-wing activists, and the cases have earned the country criticism both here and abroad.

HB 5709 or the Anti-Torture Act makes torture a crime and exacts punishment not just to those who directly inflict it but also those who order their subordinates to subject prisoners or suspects of torture.

Finally, HB 5864 provides for mechanisms so that victims of military operations against the New People’s Army and the MILF and MNLF are accorded their basic rights – ensuring that their lives, rights, properties and welfare are protected among others.

“Let’s train our guns now to passing the Compensation Act for the Human Rights Victims. It is long overdue. Some of the victims are no longer around to get what is due them and their families,” Tañada ended.

TAÑADA ON THE PASSED 2009 BUDGET: “INSTITUTIONS MUST BE STRENGTHENED, BICAM MUST BE OPEN”

Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, (LP, Quezon Province) expressed a lot of caution and called for vigilance in ensuring that whatever increases that were made whether through direct or indirect lobbying work by the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) or even at the initiative of legislators themselves are properly monitored and accounted for.

“My good friend, TG Guingona calls for budget reforms, but I think a key ingredient in his budget reform call is the strengthening of institutions for greater transparency and accountability. Indeed, the fear of throwing good money after bad is very real especially for departments heavily associated with corruption and even patronage politics. What with 2009 being a year prior to an election year. Yet it should not be grounds for totally depriving a public institution of much-needed funds for programs that directly address poverty both in the medium and long-term. I’m talking about important rural infrastructure, improved health care, quality textbooks and teacher re-training programs, and of course, funds for agrarian reform,” the legislator said.

Tañada is one of the authors of HB 5256 which aims to strengthen people’s participation in budget processes both at the national and local government levels.

“I believe that a key ingredient in strengthening institutions is people’s access to information. One aspect of that is for people to be given complete information on what the Executive, whether national or local, intends to do with the taxpayers’ money and be given a chance to participate effectively in the crafting of the same. Very seldom do you see LGUs posting their budget in the community bulletin board or their web site but I think that is an important step in showing good faith. After all, the only way people can effectively participate in decision-making processes such as the budget is if they have access to correct and timely information. In fact, the Bicam on the budget must be open as just as some legislators are calling for government witnesses to waive their right over bank secrecy, there should also be no secrecy in the Bicam,” Tañada said.

I CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

A Manifestation

Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III

4th District, Quezon Province

2 December 2008

Mr. Speaker,

Friends from both sides of the aisle and outside the halls of this august chamber have asked why I did not participate in the Committee of Justice during the impeachment proceedings.

Mr. Speaker,

I purposely boycotted the impeachment proceedings in the Committee of Justice. After having witnessed and participated in three impeachment proceedings, it is my humble opinion that no sitting President, present or future, will ever be impeached by the House of Representatives through proceedings in the Committee on Justice. As a matter of fact, I do not even see any future impeachment complaint hurdling the obstacle of “sufficiency in substance”. The only avenue left for a sitting or future President to be impeached is through the “fast-track” model that is if 1/3 of the Representatives affix their signatures as endorsers of the impeachment complaint or vote against the Committee Report dismissing the impeachment complaint which seems to be an impossibility nowadays when this or any President in the future commands tremendous power and influence.

Mr. Speaker,

Sumasangayon ako na ang impeachment ay isang political na proseso kung saan ang tanong na dapat sagutin ng impeachment court sa Senado ay kung tatanggalin ba o hindi ang Pangulo. It is not the duty of the House of Representatives to act as an impeachment court. Sad to say, in my humble opinion, the House of Representatives has been over-stepping its duty and has been acting as an impeachment court by the sheer force of numbers and not out of reason and fairness.

I believe that the Truth will never be ascertained in a political process where numbers are used as a basis on determining whether a President should be held accountable for his or her actions. As I explained my vote in previous impeachment proceedings, impeachment proceedings do not automatically find a President guilty but may also declare him innocent.

Mr. Speaker,

When will we ever take the task to impeach public officials seriously so much so that we take time to hear and appreciate testimonies and evidence?

How do we view our sole and sacred duty as members of the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable as enshrined in the Constitution?

Is the Article on Accountability of Public Officers regarding the Office of the President rendered inutile by sheer numbers?

Is this the message that we want to send the youth? That numbers can hide the truth.

Mr. Speaker,

I can feel our youth’s disenchantment with political institutions and their sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We may pat ourselves in the back and be proud of what we accomplished today. I feel we just proved to the youth of the land that we the House of Representatives have failed to inspire them to love our country more beyond self and beyond party affiliation.

Mr. Speaker,

Paumanhin sa mga kaibigan sa mayorya at sa minorya na alam kong ibinigay ang panahon sa napakasalimuot na isyung ito. Ayokong maging bahagi sa isang proseso na nagbibigay ng maling pag-asa sa hinahanap nating katotohanan. Tiyak ako na ito ang ikakasira na naman sa imahe at kredibilidad ng Mababang Kapulungan kung may natitira pa.

And so, I choose not to participate in this process. I choose to boycott and not take part in the vote that we are about to cast tonight.

Thank you very much.

TAÑADA DISAPPOINTED WITH THE SENATE JPEPA VOTE

Vice Chair of the Special Committee on Globalization, Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III expressed disappointment with the simple concurrence of 16 senators to the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) last night.

“While I salute the four senators that dissented – Senators Aquino, Pimentel, Madrigal and Escudero, it seems that the others turned a blind eye not only on the inherent infirmities of the treaty but all the utter uselessness of the so-called Exchange of Notes between Foreign Affairs Minister Koumura and DFA Secretary Romulo that was supposed to address the constitutional questions – land ownership, control over resources, right to operate public utilites – on JPEPA. Jobs and industries are on the line,” he said.

During the budget deliberations of the Department of Trade and Industry, Tañada took the floor of the House of Representatives to point out:

One, that the exchange of notes was just a shared understanding between the two parties and is not integral to the treaty;

Two, even if it was made an integral part of JPEPA, paragraph 4 thereof expressly provides that it “does not modify the rights and obligations of the parties under the provisions of JPEPA.” It therefore renders the entire Exchange of Notes inutile.

Three, other countries were able to get better deals from Japan, why were we not able to?

He likewise cautioned that the mere side notes on the toxic issue does not automatically solve the problem as the Philippine Senate has yet to ratify the amendments to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes.

“While the Basel Convention is intended to prevent the entry of toxic waste from Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, it does not exclude export of recyclables so long as the host country allows it.  The amendment to the Basel Convention precisely disallows this. The Senate should have ratified that amendment to close the loophole on the toxic waste issue,” Tañada said.

The congressman raised the strong warning that JPEPA sets the template for all other bilateral agreements that the country will enter with other countries henceforth.

“We could have had a much better template. JPEPA is WTO plus. It includes issues like government procurement, export competition and investments which were roundly rejected by developing countries in the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle in 2000. Let us therefore expect greater liberalization of our economy at a time when were are deeply in crisis,” he warned.

MINING AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: A Call for Environmental Accountability

MINING AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

TALKING POINTS

Mining Forum and Launch of the

National Resource Management Agenda

A Call for Environmental Accountability

Davao, 18 September 2008

Hon. Lorenzo R. Tañada III

Chair, Committee on Human Rights

House of Representatives

Maayong Hapon! It is my pleasure to be in this mining forum and launch of the National Resource Management Agenda initiated by AFRIM and its partner NGOs and POs. I also would like to thank one of Davao’s finest Councilor for facilitating my participation in this event.

I have been asked to share my perspectives on mining and sustainable development wearing my hat as member of Congress.

Let me ask you all several direct questions:

  • Can mining harm the environment?

  • Will mining sacrifice the rights of indigenous peoples and violate human rights?

  • Will it endanger the country’s food security?

When we think about the Marcopper (Placer Dome) in Marinduque, Rapu-Rapu (La Fayette) in Albay, the TVI Pacific in Canatuan, Siocon here in Mindanao, and several others, the images of the mining disasters and violations on the rights of people living in those communities, then we shall all say that the answer is a resounding YES. Therefore, the conclusion is that mining should not have any place in our country’s development plan.

But still the nagging afterthought – other countries were able to take out their minerals from the earth without violating human rights, their food security has been enhanced as they were able to buy more food in exchange for the minerals they have exported, and with minimal harm on the environment, why can’t we?

The answer I would say, is because we are only launching the National Resource Management Agenda now. Had this document been available at the time when the Mining Act of 1995 otherwise known as Republic Act 7942 was being debated, and the basic principles and framework for managing resources as cited in the Agenda is incorporated in the law, then perhaps we shall not be having mining disasters of the sort we have seen. And perhaps the primacy of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act is held over the Mining Act of 1995.

It is in this light that I congratulate AFRIM for leading a multi-stakeholder consultation to precisely grapple with questions of sustainable development and ensuring that it is our people that truly benefit from the utilization of our natural resources.

I couldn’t agree more with AFRIM in the enumeration of principles that should be contained in the Natural Resource Management Agenda – sustainability, equitability, responsible stewardship, systems orientation, and just peace and the six elements that aid the fulfillment of the vision include: tri-people1 focus, self-determination, gender-sensitivity, participatory and consultative decision-making, decentralized and emancipatory management, and food sovereignty.

So, sana noon pa andito na ito.

But then again, some of you might say, Erin, you must be dreaming. The author of Republic Act 7942 was then Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Can you safely say that principles of sustainability, equitability, food sovereignty, participatory and consultative decision-making are even in her vocabulary?

But levity aside, I do thank AFRIM for the wonderful initiative as I hope to further contribute in enriching the Agenda.

The Mining Act is Seriously Flawed

Allow me to delve on Republic Act 7942. My father, former Senator Wigberto Tañada is among those who questioned the constitutionality of the Mining Act in GR No. 127882 filed February 7, 1997. It is a celebrated case since the petition challenged the very foundation of Government’s policy in the administration and management of the country’s mineral lands and resources.

The petition is mainly for the nullification of the Philippine Mining Act o 1995 and the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) entered into by and between the Philippine Government and WMC (Philippines), Inc. for being unconstitutional.

On January 27, 2004, the Supreme Court declared all provisions of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 which allows the direct participation of foreign-owned corporations in mineral resources exploration, development and utilization in the country.

It was a short-lived victory as on December 1, 2004, the Supreme Court reversed its January decision and declared all provisions on foreign participation – including FTAA of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 constitutional. And the rape of our environment worsened…

I, just like my father, maintain the position that the Mining Act is seriously flawed and it is still riddled with constitutional questions. Proof of the matter is I am party to another case filed against RA 7942, this time zeroing in on two sections of said law, singling out Sagittarius Mines, Inc., Oceanagold Philippines Inc., and TVI Resources and Development Philippines Inc. .

Section 80 of the Mining Act of 1995 is constitutionally infirm as it limits government’s share to excise taxes. In short, it severely undermines the state’s taxation power. This contradicts the Constitutional provision that development of the national patrimony should be based on an equitable distribution of wealth. Further, the DENR had no basis to enter into Mining Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) as the law did not constitutionally provide for the basis for sharing. This cannot be simply remedied by an executive issuance.

The petition likewise questions Section 81 of said law, again pertaining to Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements and prayed for a halt of the issuance of mining permits by the DENR.

My dear friends, two FTAAs cover 447,308 hectares that include indigenous communities, with 54 more FTAA applications targeting 2.3 million hectares of land in the country. Done outside the framework of sustainable development and equitable distribution of the benefits from the utilization of our natural resources, then we shall be wrecking havoc in our environment and our people’s lives.

The Need for Corporate, Government and International Social Responsibility for Mining

Apart from the principles that are embodied in the Natural Resources Management Agenda, permit me to add a few points with regard to social responsibility for mining. Some of these recommendations are lifted from the study done by Christian Aid, entitled “Breaking promises, making profits: Mining in the Philippines” published in December 2004.

Mining companies should:

  • Support improved regulation at both national and international level.

  • Desist from the use of paramilitary troops

  • Should recognize and respect the right to free, prior informed consent and right of communities to say NO to a mining project.

There are a lot of recommendations, “dos and donts” that are being put forward to the government. Among them are:

  • Public notification should be followed where a mining proponent exists

  • Adequate time should be allowed to determine local opinion (six months)

  • Deployment of military or paramilitary forces in an area prior to or during consultation is unacceptable

  • Any legal contests to the granting of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title should be secondary and should not cause the displacement of indigenous community while the suit is pending.

  • Government should decisively investigate and prosecute any reported human rights violations.

Further, there is a need of some form of international regulation which would ensure that:

  • Companies operate to the same standards in other countries as they do in their home countries, except where host countries have higher standards – these should be respected.

  • International law should ensure that minimum environmental and social standards are made binding for all companies. This will prevent host countries from lower standards to attract investments.

In the absence of international regulation, I would argue that these proposals can still be studied and explored so that an overhauled Mining Act, which captures the NMR Agenda’s framework and principles and the things I have mentioned.

State of Mining Legislation in Congress

As I end, allow me to just say that I think there is a real need to actively engage Congress so that at the minimum, a review of the Mining Act of 1995 is done and that the principles of sustainable development, food security, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples are in the forefront. Sadly though, the Committee on Natural Resources where bills2 which amends and/or repeals the Mining Act are lodged has only had one public hearing so far. And by the way things are going, I’m not sure if any of those mining-related bills or resolutions would be reported out by the Committee. Its Chair by the way, is Congressman Iggy Arroyo.

I think this is a rather lengthy discourse. Thank you very much for the opportunity to address this forum and I look forward to an enlightening exchange of ideas.

Mabuhay tayong lahat!

1 Tri-people means Muslims, migrant settlers, and IPs

2 There are 4 bills filed pertaining to mining – one by BM, two by Cong. Bichara, and another one by Congw. Carmencita Reyes; Villafuerte has a resolution pertaining to mining permits

Tañada encourages detained health workers to file torture case against military

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson: Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368 email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com

News Release- February 11, 2010
References: Erin Tanada-09193688555
Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311

Tañada encourages detained health workers to file torture case against military
Rep. Lorenzo ‘ Erin’ Tañada III, chair of the committee on human rights in Congress, warned the commander of the 202nd infantry brigade of the Philippine Army, Col Aurelio Balabad, against subjecting the 43 detained health workers to any kind of torture.
According to Tañada, “Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which was signed into law last 10 November 2009, defined the crime of torture as an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purpose of obtaining a confession, among other things,”
It has been reported that on the morning of Feb 6, at least 300 heavily armed elements of the combined forces of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202IBPA) and the Rizal Provincial Philippine National Police (PNP) forced their way into the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal where a week-long training of community health workers sponsored by Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD) at Dr. Velmonte’s Farm was being held.
“I believe that the 43 health workers and media practitioners were arrested without a valid warrant and the reports coming in that they were subjected to torture during the 36 hours in Camp Pinpin wherein they were held incommunicado and were not allowed to talk to their families or lawyers, is very disturbing. Any kind of torture must stop immediately because they (the perpetrators) will be held accountable under RA 9745,” he added.
“I am encouraging the detained health workers to file cases of torture or violations of RA 9745 against the pertinent persons. According to accounts by the relatives, the detainees were subjected to hours of interrogation despite their demands for legal counsel. They were also forced to listen to sounds of gunfire and to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army. They were not allowed to speak to each other and were slapped several times.”
He likewise called on the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice to hasten the drafting and approval of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Law as torture cases seems to be piling up. Earlier, he also encouraged the Dumagats of Aurora who were subjected to torture by elements of 48th IB in Aurora, to use the law against their military abductors.

TAÑADA: “THE FIGHT FOR CITIZEN’S RIGHT TO KNOW WILL CONTINUE”

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson: Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368 email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com

News Release- February 4, 2010
References: Erin Tanada-09193688555
Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311

TAÑADA: “THE FIGHT FOR CITIZEN’S RIGHT TO KNOW WILL CONTINUE”

After falling by the wayside due to supposed quorum problems, among other things, Representative Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (4th District, Quezon), one of the principal proponents of the Freedom of Information bill said the bill is not yet lost as far as the 14th Congress is concerned.

“After the May elections, Congress goes back to conduct business May 31 and will formally close on June 4. There is that window, albeit a very narrow one, that we can use. With proper information and education campaign coupled with strategizing with the electorate, we will make this window wider,” Tañada said.

After 1987, there was one particular instance where Congress reconvened after an election and passed a major law – the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001.

As quorum will be a major factor, Tañada urged networks and advocates working on the issue to center their campaign in making sure that congressmen will report back to work, whether they win or lose, sit inside the session hall to vote and ratify the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the measure.

“Our people must own the issue and make their so-called “representatives” in Congress shape up and deliver one of their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution – their right to be informed on matters of public concern,” He ended.

TAÑADA ENCOURAGES TRIBESMEN’S TEST ANTI-TORTURE LAW

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson, Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368
email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com

News Release- 3 January 2010
References: Erin – 09193688555
Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311

TAÑADA ENCOURAGES TRIBESMEN’S TEST ANTI-TORTURE LAW

House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights Chair Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (LP, 4th District, Quezon) strongly encouraged the four members of the Dumagat tribe in Aurora province as they expressed their intent to file a torture case against the soldiers of the 48th Infantry Battalion based in Dingalan, Aurora.

“Indeed, this will be a test case for Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which was signed into law last 10 November 2009. I thank Fr. Pete Montallana OFM, of the Diocese of Infanta and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates for being there for the four Dumagats. I likewise call on the Commission on Human Rights to assist them with regard to the case that they will be filing,” Tañada said.

He further added that his Committee will exercise its oversight functions to closely monitor the effectiveness of the Anti-Torture Law.

SSS CONDONATION BILL OF 2009 SIGNED INTO LAW

The
SSS Condonation Bill of 2009 was finally signed into law today after
almost two years of hearings and discussions in both congress and
senate. Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (Liberal
Party, 4th District, Quezon), who is the principal authors of
the bill and who chaired the technical working group on the measure,
hailed the signing of the bill.

“Though
late, the bill is still a very welcome christmas present particularly
to small and medium businesses,” he said.
The law is set to grant the
Social Security System a one-time authority to condone 100% of the
penalties slapped on unpaid employers’ remittances, while providing
installment options for those who would like to settle through
staggered payment in a period of 48 months.
In
previous statements, the bill has been called a triple mini-stimulus
package which will: (1) provide a venue for companies to pay
their delinquent principal payments, (2) help the SSS immediately
collect an estimated more than P50 billion from the P95 billion
collectible 0principal amounts due, instantly putting money into the
coffers of the SSS and (3) ensure that ordinary and privately
employed individuals can avail of the full benefits of the SSS
members in good standing.
“ Especially in the light of
the calamities of 2009 and the ongoing economic recession, it is
important that the benefits of SSS members such as the loan packages,
be made available. “ he added.
Tañada
also clarified that “The law will help the SSS, the employers and
workers. We were quite conscious that we do not unduly reward
those who have been remiss with their obligations in making timely
payments to the SSS. The 100% condonation of penalties applies
only to cash payments of all delinquent accounts. Those who will opt
to pay thru installment basis will still have to pay a 5% downpayment
on principal amount amount and a 3% per annum interest through a
period of 48 months. More importantly, employers which have pending
cases because of their delinquency status would also be allowed to
avail of the condonation but those who will not avail and will still
not pay are legally accountable to the SSS.”

HON. LORENZO R. TAÑADA III Joint Session of the Congress of the Philippines For the Purpose of Reviewing PP 1959 14 December 2009

HON. LORENZO R. TAÑADA III
Joint Session of the Congress of the Philippines
For the Purpose of Reviewing PP 1959
14 December 2009

MANIFESTATION

Distinguished colleagues, notwithstanding the lifting of the declaration of Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao, I wish to manifest my utter disgust with PP 1959, for the reason that I believe it to have been a surreptitious curtailment of our civil rights and the most profligate testament yet to our government’s propensity for war-mongering.

The president’s report had done its best to paint a grim picture, yet not even the utterly inappropriate inclusion of photos of the Maguindanao Massacre could hide the fact that no rebellion ever took place, or that the monstrosity was largely a by-product of the mismanagement by both the Executive and the Armed Forces of their respective agents. Instead, what became abundantly clear from the interpellations was that the declaration of Martial Law was an injudicious application of a quick fix. The Massacre had demonstrated how the Executive had created a monstrosity in the clan of the Ampatuans, and how the military had functioned as the catalyst by allowing the CAFGUs and CVOs to act as a private army of hoodlums and louts. Like Scylla in Greek mythology, this aberration had grown many heads—as they are wont to do in a culture of impunity—and the declaration of Martial Law was obviously an attempt to cut off all its heads at once and hide the carcass.

Unfortunately, the divisive ills that beleaguer Maguindanao are not susceptible to being cured by just super glue. Neither is it sound policy to do such a thing. Those in government who want quick fixes would do better to find employment with the company that makes Mighty Bond, because they will not find satisfaction here. I, for one, would like to think that in this country, when the excrement hits the fan, we do not escape from the embassy roof; we stay, clean up the mess, and determine the source of the problem.

I am aware that there are some quarters in Maguindanao that favor the imposition of Martial Law, but this, to me, is more an indication of the urgency with which their situation must be addressed, rather than a testament to the appropriateness of the measure. History stands witness to how Martial Law slides so easily into the realm of abuse, and it is precisely for this reason that the Constitution expressly and explicitly, mincing no words, provides such stringent safeguards for its imposition. Given its volatile nature and the dangers inherent in toeing the fine line between restoring order and imposing the same by force, Martial Law is reserved only for those extreme instances when the government is facing such a formidable challenge to its authority that it must resort to force in order to protect itself. This is a power meant to be exercised only in the direst of circumstances, and in every case, with the utmost caution. If we consent to use it as a remedy for every emergency, we might as well put any pretense of policy-making aside and walk out of these halls right now. Martial Law was never meant to solve every crisis—that’s what policy is for, that is what legislation is for, that is what the rule of law is for.

It is the duty of government to come up with rational measures. We cannot resort to extremes every time something goes wrong; for not only does that speak of a debilitating weakness on the part of government, but an overzealous paranoia as well.

It is evident, then, that what the situation really called for was assisting the civil authorities in the restoration of order, and not the giving over of the whole area to the military. When the local government flounders because its officials are suspected of criminal activity, the remedy is to apprehend and prosecute the individual offenders, remove them from office, and replace them with lawful authority, not to subject the innocent public to military rule because their leaders are given to lawlessness.

As a last point, the manner in which Martial Law was declared and then subsequently withdrawn—in the dead of night, and without a word from our Chief Executive—points to the dubious intentions behind the measure. Its imposition on a Friday night, and its withdrawal on a Saturday night, was clearly designed to skirt accountability. If nothing else, all that sly stealth should make us ever more wary, ever vigilant on our guard, lest we wake up one morning to find ourselves once again under fascist rule.

Thank you.

CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO INFO BILL HURDLES SENATE 3rd READING

Office of Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
Chairperson: Committee on Human Rights
Northwing 409, House of Representatives, Quezon City
telefax: 9316478 or 9315001 loc. 7368 email:erin_tanada@yahoo.com
News Release- December 14, 2009 References: Erin Tanada-09193688555 Media officer: Laurice Ramos- 09228433311

CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO INFO BILL HURDLES SENATE 3rd READING

Ecstatic author of the Freedom of Information Act in the House of Representatives, Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III (Liberal Party, 4th District, Quezon Province) happily reported its passage on 3rd Reading in the Senate after so many Congresses of grueling lobby work by various interest groups led by the Access to Information Network (ATIN).

“In the past, the bill was only able to get the nod of the House of Representatives but then gets stuck in the Senate. It is only now that significant strides were achieved with regard to pushing this bill,” Tañada said.

The solon emphasized the importance of getting the bill passed by the Bicameral Conference Committee, ratified by both Houses and signed by the President as soon as possible.

“Access to information by ordinary citizens is a key to a thriving and living democracy. It is a critical ingredient in ensuring informed participation of people on matters that shape public policy. Likewise, it is a good anti-corruption measure as it provides transparency on matters of public concern,” he further elaborated.

Tañada joined the ATIN in their gathering in the Senate today to give his moral support to the advocacy that he deeply shares with the network. He likewise acknowledged the important role that Senators Allan Peter Cayetano and Miguel Zubiri played in the Senate and Reps. Joel Villanueva and Del de Guzman in the House of Representatives in seeing the bill thru.

Tanada PR on Martial Law Declaration