MANILA – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sheriff Abas on Tuesday said the commission will remain strict in scrutinizing the new party-list applicants before they will be accredited for the upcoming 2022 national and local elections.

Mabusisi pagpili! Comelec scrutining party-list applicants for 2022 polls

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MANILA – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sheriff Abas on Tuesday said the commission will remain strict in scrutinizing the new party-list applicants before they will be accredited for the upcoming 2022 national and local elections.

“Doon naman sa kung hindi sila [party-list groups] marginalized, hinihimay po talaga ng Comelec iyan at hindi po basta-basta kaming nag-a-approve o nag-a-accredit ng mga party-list (On the issue if they are not marginalized, the Comelec really scrutinize them and we don’t just approve or accredit party list),” Abas said in the virtual Laging Handa forum.

Abas said the Comelec has actually approved only 20 percent of the party-list applicants in the last two elections in 2016 and 2019.

“As of last election, we have 160 party-list accredited and allowed to run and out of 160, 39 have been delisted recently, for two reasons: first, they did not win in the last two elections and second, they are inactive. So out of 160 minus 39 so we only have 121 accredited party-list,” he said.

He said the poll body is now accepting applications for accreditation in connection with the May 9, 2022 national and local elections.

“We are open to accepting new applications for accreditation or reaccreditation,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the Comelec is hoping to issue guidelines and protocols for the election campaign before the last quarter of the year.

“The process regarding the guidelines on the campaign is ongoing. We are studying it thoroughly, the protocols from canvassing, filing, counting among others. Maybe before the end or last quarter of this year,” he added.

He said reports that the Comelec is planning to ban face-to-face election campaign was “just opinion” of other officials.

“But as to the official policy of the Comelec, wala pa po tayong inilalabas (we have not yet released guidelines),” Abas said. (PNA)

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House leader assures swift passage of resolutions granting amnesty to rebels

By Billy Begas

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez has assured the swift adoption of four Concurrent Resolutions granting amnesty to members of four rebel groups in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace program.

House Concurrent Resolution Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 respectively support the grant of amnesty to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), and the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG).

Romualdez, Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco and House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod party-list authored the resolutions.

“We recognize this crucial need to accept the request of former combatants for amnesty so we could further stabilize our country and move towards healing, reconciliation, and reintegration,” said Romualdez.

The resolutions are an offshoot of Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093 issued by Duterte granting amnesty to the rebels who have committed crimes under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or special penal laws in pursuit of their political beliefs.

Section 19, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution allows the President to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.

Romualdez said that once both Houses of Congress concur with the Proclamations, an Amnesty Commission will be created to review the applications.

The grant of amnesty will extinguish any criminal liability for acts committed in pursuit of political beliefs, without prejudice to the grantee’s civil liability for injuries or damages caused to private persons whose right to be indemnified is fully recognized. It will also restore the grantee’s civil or political rights suspended or lost by virtue of criminal conviction.

The amnesty does not cover kidnap for ransom, massacre, rape, terrorism and other crimes committed against chastity, crimes committed for personal ends, in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, grave violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949, and those identified by the United Nations as crimes that can never be amnestied such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, enforced disappearances and other gross violations of human rights.

Hontiveros: Women empowerment key to Covid-19 recovery

For this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day, Senator Risa Hontiveros asserted that women and the Filipino spirit of bayanihan are key to the country’s Covid-19 recovery.

The chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality said women’s empowerment and support was particularly needed during a health crisis, because, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 70 percent of the health and social workforce is made up of women.

“Babae at bayanihan ang dapat maghari para tunay na makabangon ang pamilyang Pilipino. The pandemic only exacerbated the multiple burdens women already carry. If we want to wholly recover from this crisis, we need to band together to better support our women,” she said.

In a 2019 analysis, the WHO emphasized that investments in the health workforce could lead to women’s economic empowerment. For instance, while majority of healthcare workers are women, they earn, on average, 28 percent less than men.

“Karamihan ng ating health workers ay babae, hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong mundo. Kung mapalakas natin ang benepisyo at suporta sa bawat isa sa kanila, mas agarang makakabangon ang buong mundo mula sa pandemya,” Hontiveros said.

The senator, along with other women senators, is set to file a bill for gender-responsive and inclusive protocols to address the gender-differentiated needs of women during Covid-19, and other public health concerns, emergencies and disasters.

“Ang krisis pangkalusugan at ekonomiya ay mas masosolusyunan kung gawin nating prayoridad ang ating kababaihan,” she said.

“Patong patong na ang bigat na dala ng ating mga babae — mga nanay, nars, guro, domestic workers, at marami pang iba. Akayin natin kami. Maging bayani tayo para sa isa’t isa,” Hontiveros said.

Angara: Gov’t ‘not the best’ at running enterprises, must partner with private sector

In order to make government assets in the tourism sector more profitable, Senator Sonny Angara said collaborations with the private sector should be explored to develop their full potential.

Speaking at a recent forum on public-private collaboration organized by the Ateneo School of Government, the chair of the Senate finance panel said that tourism is one area where a possible partnership between the government and the private sector could be explored more extensively.

“Government owns a lot of assets. But let’s face it, the government is not the best at running these enterprises. You’re not maximizing earnings in these enterprises,” Angara said.

As examples, he cited the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel and some islands in the Visayas, which are owned and operated by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, which he said are prime tourist destinations that could use a little help from private enterprises with strong track records in developing such assets.

“If you could make them attractive, maybe the private sector could come in and do some variant of BOT (build-operate-transfer). They can make it profitable, they can make it nice and then turn these back over to the government at some point in the future,” Angara said.

He said that this is still a largely unexplored area of public-private collaboration that could provide a boost to the tourism industry, generate a lot of economic activity and provide employment for Filipinos.

The tourism sector was among the most badly affected sectors when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country as restrictions on travel were imposed.

While the tourism sector does not appear to be on the top of the priorities of the government at this time, Angara said that its revival will have to be addressed once there is more certainty regarding the health and safety of travelers, both domestic and foreign.

“Tourism contributes a great deal to the growth of our economy. It is lamentable that the pandemic struck at a time when the sector was already recording impressive growth,” he said.

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