Monday, 18 August 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, August 15, 2014

Palace hopes Congress would deliberate on priority legislation, should there be talks on Charter Change, official says

The Palace hopes Congress would have enough time to deliberate on priority legislation submitted by the Executive branch, should legislators start discussing Charter Change, an official said Friday.

"Umaasa kami na mabibigyan ng sapat na atensiyon iyong mga naisumite ng Pangulo na 26 priority bills sa Mababa at Mataas na Kapulungan," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Pero mahirap muna sumagot ngayon, kasi medyo hypothetical,” she quickly added.

Some quarters have expressed skepticism on the timely passage of such priority legislation as the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Freedom of Information Bill, should legislators start tackling Charter Change.

"Alam kong medyo mataas ang level of interest ngayon, pero hindi pa naman natin alam talaga kung ano ang mga susunod na hakbang. Pero umaasa kami na, whatever happens, sana mabigyan ng sapat na atensiyon ang mga importanteng priority bills na naisumite ng Pangulo," she said.

While there has been no request from the President to work immediately on the priority bills, Valte said Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Senate President Frank Drilon, House of Representatives Speaker Sonny Belmonte, and other members of Congress are discussing these bills.

In his State of the Nation Address last month, President Benigno S. Aquino III cited several priority bills, among them the national budget bill, the supplemental budget for 2014, the uniformed personnel pension reform bill, and a joint resolution to clarify certain definitions and concepts in the Supreme Court decision on his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Also on the Palace list are the proposed tax incentives management law, the bill seeking to amend the build-operate-transfer law, the cabotage law, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas charter, Human Security Act, Ombudsman Act, and the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act.

The Palace is also seeking amendments to the law facilitating the acquisition of right-of-way, site or location for government infrastructure projects.

It also wants to remove investment restrictions in specific laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List. PND (as)

Government, MILF agree on resolutions that will be part of Bangsamoro draft Law

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on several resolutions that will form part of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to be submitted to President Aquino.

"The parties have agreed that the resolutions arrived at by both parties will be incorporated into the final draft of the Basic Bangsamoro Law that will be prepared and submitted to President Benigno S. Aquino III," Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said in a joint statement issued on Friday.

In the statement, Ochoa and Iqbal said they have concluded discussions on the various issues involving the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law, which was originally drafted by the BTC and submitted to the President last April.

Aside from the government and MILF peace panels, the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process, the Office of the Executive Secretary, and the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel also participated in the discussions.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law was scheduled to be submitted to Congress last May but the Palace review and other developments have delayed its submission.

Once the draft is approved by Congress, a plebiscite will be held and a transition authority will be created. An election in the Bangsamoro will be held in 2016 so that its people could choose their leaders.

President Aquino vowed to push for the conduct of a fair and democratic election in the region in 2016. PND (as)

Palparan has chance to defend himself in court, Palace official says

Former Army major general Jovito Palparan could now defend himself in court, a Palace official said in reaction to reports that retired generals believe that Palparan is a victim of trial by publicity.

"Now he has the chance to have an actual trial," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday.

Asked if the government does not recognize Palparan's success in his anti-communism campaign in the past, Valte said his past efforts are not the issue.

She said that Palparan, who is facing serious illegal detention charges, could argue in court that his actions were part of his duty as a military man.

"Those are matters of defense that are properly taken up in a trial. If he intends to adopt that as a defense, then he is free to do so," she said, adding that the Palace does not want to get mired in the issue by reacting to Palparan's past performance.

On why the President did not entertain Palparan's surrender feelers, Valte said he may not have seen it fit.

The President thought that if Palparan really wanted to surrender, then he could have turned himself over to anyone or to the authorities, she explained.

Palparan, one of the most wanted persons, was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila before dawn on Tuesday.

Authorities have offered a P2-million bounty for information leading to his capture.

The former congressman is accused of illegally detaining activist Jonas Burgos and University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, as well as executing suspected members of the New People's Army. PND (as)