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Charlie V. Manalo

The House committee on good government and public accountability continued its inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alleged corruption and irregularities in the imposition, collection and distribution of taxes and fees on quarrying operations in Nueva Ecija and other provinces.

The inquiry is being done on the basis of House Resolution 1505 authored by Reps. Ria Vergara, Micaela Violago, Magnolia Antonino and Arnolfo Teves Jr.
Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur), committee chairman, said in his opening remarks that there are relevant information and materials gathered during the previous hearings addressing the issue, whether or not local government units (LGUs) tasked to regulate quarry operations for the protection of the environment, have abused their authority.
“The committee also perceived that the government agencies involved in the issuance of quarry permits, collection of taxes and fees thereon and their distribution to the intended beneficiaries have contradicting opinions and appreciation of the laws, rules and regulations,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said the committee intends to settle the contradicting views and find out its causes to determine whether remedial legislation can address these issues.
‘The mandate of the committee is to determine whether laws have been violated and whether public officials and employees can be held liable therefrom. In the final analysis, the committee will determine whether remedial legislation will be necessary to address the issue referred to the jurisdiction of this committee,’ he said.
Early on, the panel approved the motion to issue a show cause order to the governor of the province of Negros Oriental, Roel Degamo after he failed to show up at the meeting.
Degamo and some officials of the provincial government of Negros Oriental were among the resource persons invited to attend the inquiry on quarry operations in their province.
Aside from Degamo, the governor of Nueva Ecija, Czarina Umali, her husband, former Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio Umali and some officials of the provincial government were issued subpoena duces tecum for their failure to attend the previous committee hearings.
Vergara said in her opening statement that the inquiry has nothing to do with politics.
In the previous meeting, a former regional director for Mining Tenements Management Division Region III Lope Cariño disclosed that the provincial government of Nueva Ecija has been issuing commercial sand and gravel permits without passing through the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board.
It was also confirmed by the provincial administrator that they issued permits for quarry operations even without the environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
He said that even if the ECC is under process, they are allowed to issue a quarry permit on the basis only of a commitment to secure an ECC from the DENR.
During the interpellation, Vergara asked Provincial Environment Office Head Engr. Wilfredo Pangilinan to describe the steps in securing for a quarry permit from the provincial government.
Pangilinan said the applicant has to write a letter of intent to the governor; once the letter is acknowledged and subject to evaluation, the applicant is advised to submit the needed requirements such as survey plan, clearances from the barangay and mayor’s office, project description and other clearances. Once the requirements are met, the letter is endorsed to the governor for approval.

Bill seeks P1.16-B budget supplement on Dengvaxia

Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

A bill House appropriations committee chairman Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles has filed seeks to allot a special P1.16 billion fund to assist children who had been administered with the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
Nograles said the allocation would come from the refund representing some P1.16 billion worth of unused vials, which was returned by the government to Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur through its local distributor Zuellig Pharma.
Nograles said the P1.16 billion supplemental budget will be used to fund the much needed medical support for the children who were administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine such as medical assistance for hospitalization, medical kits, out-patient

care services, including laboratory tests, among others.
“This will ensure prompt and pinpointed delivery of necessary medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccinees even as the Department of Health (DoH) continue to monitor their state in the months following their inoculation. Also, this is to allay the fears of the public on the purported effects of Dengvaxia and to prevent further deaths and illnesses of those administered with the vaccine,” Nograles said.
“Regardless of the cause of these deaths and illnesses, it is incumbent upon the State to intervene by providing assistance to those who were administered with the vaccine. This is in line with the State’s policy of protecting and promoting the right to health of the people,” he added.
Dengvaxia, a relatively new drug manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, was used in a P3-billion mass anti-dengue immunization program during the tail end of the Aquino administration in April 2016. This made the Philippines the first country in the world to do so.
Then, in November 2017, the French pharmaceutical firm released results of its long-term follow-up study which showed that Dengvaxia gave an increased risk in those who are seronegative or not yet infected with dengue at the time of first vaccinate.
     830,000 given shots
At this point, over 830,000 Filipino school children have already been given Dengvaxia shots. From this figure, at least 39 kids have already died, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told a joint House panel last February 26.
Facing allegations of negligence and even corruption, the Department of Health suspended the administration of Dengvaxia and upon the demand of the government, Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of the Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, refunded the amount of around P 1.16 Billion covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.
In his bill, Nograles said the P1.16 billion fund would be appropriated to fund the assistance to the Dengvaxia vaccinees, which amount shall be used exclusively for the following activities and/or projects, namely: (a) Human Resource for Health (HRH) Deployment; (b) Public Health Management; and (c) Assistance to Indigent Patients either Confined or Out-Patient in Government Hospitals/ Specialty Hospitals / LGU Hospitals / Philippine General Hospital / West Visayas State University Hospital.
Nograles said it is incumbent upon the State to provide assistance to those who were administered Dengvaxia, which apparently took three dosages to complete. Duque said some of those who passed away had only one vaccination.
“The money is already there and all we have to do now is to put it to good use. Using Sanofi’s refund is the least we could do to try to correct a possible misstep with this particular mass vaccination program,” said Nograles.
The appropriations authorized in the proposed Act shall be available for release and obligation for the purposes specified from the date of effectivity up to December 31, 2018. Congress had earlier passed the P3.767-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018.
Certifications received by the Nograles camp showed that the P1.16-billion refund—which covered unused Dengvaxia vaccines—has already been transmitted to the National Treasury as of January 26, 2018.

Speaker Alvarez admits slip in PDP senatorial slate

Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

It takes guts to admit a mistake. And that was what Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez demonstrated yesterday when he humbly admitted he erred in the list of senatoriables comprising the dominant  Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino slate for 2019 he provided the media as he unintentionally omitted the names of party stalwart, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfred “Albee” Benitez and Malacañang Asst. Secretary Mocha Uson.
Alvarez said Benitez and Uson are entrenched in the list of prospective senatorial candidates of PDP, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last Tuesday, Alvarez spoke before 5,000 new party members in Caloocan City, urging them to support the party’s 2019 senatorial bets.  Inadvertently excluded in the announcement were the names of Benitez and Uson.
“I really forgot to mention Albee (Benitez), he is really included in the line-up,” said Alvarez.
In endorsing Benitez’s to the PDP slate, Alvarez stressed that the Negros Occidental solon is needed in the Senate to help guarantee legislative support for the Duterte government’s housing and urban development programs.
However, Benitez has yet to reveal his political intentions for 2019.
New in the list mentioned by Alvarez is Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice that recently voted to impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Among the names already included in the PDP list were those of Reps. Zajid Mangudadatu (Maguindanao); Geraldine Roman (Bataan) and Karlo Nograles (Davao City); presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Secretary Christopher Go, presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
“They have to manifest their intention (to run) and rate well in surveys,”.Alvarez said
“They have to support federalism because that is the advocacy of the party, as well as rank well in surveys.  If they do not rate well, then that (senate run) will be a political suicide,” said Alvarez.
“The performance in surveys is important because we want our candidates to win,” he added.            


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