MANILA – The House of Representatives does not need the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte to resume discussions on Charter change (Cha-cha), Malacañang said Thursday.

Patay malisya: Palace distances Duterte from House’s Charter change move

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MANILA – The House of Representatives does not need the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte to resume discussions on Charter change (Cha-cha), Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace respects the decision of the lower chamber to restart public hearings on cha-cha.

“Hindi naman kinakailangang bigyan ng basbas ng Presidente iyan—iyan naman po’y katungkulan talaga ng Kongreso. Tanging Kongreso lang po ang pupuwedeng magsimula ng proseso para sa Charter change, hindi po ang Presidente (It is not necessary for them to have the President’s blessing— that is really the duty of Congress. Only Congress can begin the process for charter change, not the President),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

However, he also said Duterte and his administration will still prioritize efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country and implement its economic recovery plan.

“Nirirespeto po natin iyan at sa ngayon po ang number one priority natin ang Covid-19 lalung-lalo na ang usaping vaccine (We respect their decision, but for now our priority is Covid-19, especially talks about acquiring vaccines),” he added.

Roque also dismissed anew rumors that the House’s cha-cha is a move to extend the terms of officials including that of Duterte.

“Tsismis lang po iyan (Those are just rumors). The President has made it clear, wala po siyang kahit anong kagustuhan na manatili ng isang minuto man lang (he has no any desire to stay even one minute longer) beyond his term of office on June 30, 2022,” he said.

On Wednesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is targeting to secure at least 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the country in 2021.

However, he said the acquisition will still be dependent on the global supply since rich nations have already secured 80 percent of the vaccines worldwide

“Wala pong ibang top priority ang Pangulo kung hindi matapos po itong pandemyang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan (The President does not have any other priority except to end this pandemic by providing vaccines to our citizens),” Roque said.

The government is currently in “advanced stages of negotiations” with pharmaceutical companies Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac and Gamaleya.

Resumption of cha-cha talks developed after Speaker Lord Allan Velasco met with House leaders who previously chaired the constitutional amendments panel.

House committee on constitutional amendments chairperson Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the hearings will focus solely on economic provisions and not amendments on political provisions like term extension.

Garbin said his panel would resume deliberations on proposals to liberalize the Constitution’s economic provisions next Wednesday. via (PNA)

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Para ‘di mapagod sa pila: Precious Castelo bats for early voting for senior citizens, PWD

Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo has filed a measure to include senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to those who can cast their votes earlier than the scheduled day of election.

“It is safe to assume that the pandemic will still be here during the election period. Thus, it is important for Congress and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to take measures to help health authorities prevent the spread of COVID-19 among voters and the population in general,” said Castelo in House Bill 8756.

Castelo said senior citizens and PWDs, who are among the sectors most vulnerable to COVID-19 should be given the chance to cast their ballots without compromising their physical health and safety.

She called for expeditious action on her proposal, since the Comelec “is now in the thick of preparations for next year’s elections, which are just 14 months away, and the nation will soon be on election mode.”

Under the bill, the Comelec must schedule early voting for senior citizens and PWDs in pre-designated venues easily accessible to such voters within seven working days before the elections.

All senior citizens and PWDs who are registered voters shall qualify for early voting. However, the Comelec may undertake online pre-registration for the sole purpose of estimating the number of voters who want to avail themselves of advance voting.

Castelo said the Comelec can implement the same even to the succeeding elections.

Nasa batas ‘yan! Bernadette Herrera seeks probe on food delivery apps’ failure to give discount to senior citizens

By Billy Begas

Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera has filed House Resolution 1626 seeking congressional investigation into the failure of food delivery applications to honor the 20-percent discount granted by law to senior citizens.

Herrera pointed out that under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (Republic Act 9944) any resident citizen of the Philippines at least 60 years old is entitled to a 20-percent discount and is exempted from value-added tax on applicable goods and services for their exclusive use.

She said that Section 3(g) of RA 9944 specifically provides that “for delivery orders, the 20 percent discount shall likewise apply subject to certain conditions, i.e. senior citizen ID card number must be given while making the order over the telephone.”

“There is an increasing number of complaints from the senior citizens who could not avail of the discount mandated by law for food deliveries using applications like Food Panda and Grab, among others,” said Herrera.

Herrera urged food delivery service providers to incorporate the appropriate discounts into the account holder’s profile to allow senior citizens to avail of their discount.

“The money equivalent to the 20 percent discount of the senior citizens may be utilized for the medicine and other maintenance expenses as well as other necessities,” she added.

Trump to be allowed back on YouTube when ‘risk of violence’ falls

Former US president Donald Trump will be allowed back on YouTube but only when the threat of his inciting violence abates, the head of the popular online video sharing platform said Thursday.

YouTube in late January suspended Trump’s channel, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts following the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.

“We will lift the suspension of the Donald Trump channel when we determine that the risk of violence has decreased,” YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki said during a streamed Atlantic Council interview.

“Given just the warnings by the Capitol Police yesterday about a potential attack today, I think it is pretty clear that that elevated violence risk still remains.”

Wojcicki said that when the Trump channel is reinstated, it will remain subject to the same “three strike” system as everyone else at YouTube.

Uploading videos that break YouTube rules such as those against inciting violence or falsely attacking election integrity would earn the channel more strikes and suspensions.

Channels that get three strikes within a 90-day period are removed from YouTube, Wojcicki noted.

“This was the first strike,” she said of the Trump channel.

“We have applied strikes to over world leaders; (Jair) Bolsonaro in Brazil for Covid-19 misinformation, channels taken down now in Myanmar.”

Factors considered when assessing when it is safe to allow Trump back on YouTube will include online rhetoric along with concerns expressed by police departments and government agencies regarding risks of politically fueled violence, according to Wojcicki.

She felt it important to hold world leaders to the same standards as everyone else on YouTube, reasoning that it is “a very dangerous path to say some people have a free pass” when it comes to breaking content rules.

The Google-owned firm has faced criticism over its slow response following the violence in Washington, as well as the proliferation of conspiracy theories on the platform.

Trump has been banned from other online platforms including Twitter and Facebook. An independent board created by Facebook is reviewing the decision by the leading social network.

Agence France-Presse

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