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Senate gave CHR P693.5-M for proposed 2018 budget

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The Senate proposed a higher 2018 budget for the Commission on Human Rights, P156.4 million more than the budget allocated for the agency by the House of Representatives.

The Senate submitted a CHR budget for 2018 amounting to P693.5 million, which is higher than the House’s proposal of P537.7 million. The CHR submitted a proposal amounting to P651.9 million.

During the deliberations in the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson defended the proposed budget as its sponsor. He was interpellated by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III as he questioned what the CHR did for the victims of the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

“Based on the 2016 budget of the CHR, and based on COA’s recommendation, CHR Regional Office IX in Zamboanga failed to pay on time the financial and community assistance to the victims of human rights violations. This is in contrast to the CHR mandate. May we know the reason for the delay?” Sotto asked.

Lacson said that CHR has already released P5.38 million, as of June 30, 2017, benefiting 1,729 victims.

“So can we safely say that this has not happened in the rest of the country?” Sotto asked again.

Senator Lacson said CHR has pushed for expediting the release of the assistance in Zamboanga and the rest of the country, with the goal of zero backlog in mind by the end of 2017.

Asked about the agency’s 328 vacant positions, Lacson said that the CHR is still hiring personnel to fill 200 items.

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As for the unspent P21 million, Lacson said that during the 2017 deliberations for the budget for CHR, he moved to add P100 to the agency’s budget for a CHR building, which could be the reason for the unobligated allotment.

Sotto said that while he still has questions over the figures involving the killings in the country, he would ask them in other Senate hearings. He then moved to have the CHR budget be subject for plenary approval.

“In deference to the chair, the chair and I have something in common, and to the sister of the presiding officer, I terminate my interpellation of the budget of the Commission on Human Rights. I move to submit,” Sotto said.

He was referring to CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, sister of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

No objection was heard from other Senators.

A bicameral committee would be up next in the deliberation for the 2018 budget after the Senate approves of its own version.

In September, the House even voted for a P1,000 budget for CHR in September, with 119 lawmakers voting for it, while 32 others were against it.

P1,000 budget issues

Among the reactions that went viral during the P1,000 CHR budget issue was that of comedienne Beverly Salviejo, who called the CHR biased and silent during the killings of the farmers protesting in Mendiola during the Cory Aquino administration, the killings of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita, the violent dispersal of the protesting farmers in Kidapawan during Noynoy Aquino’s administration, in contrast to how much they are protesting now over the killings of “criminals” under the Duterte administration.

To this, a GMA News and Public Affairs writer and supervising producer posted a fact-check of all of Salviejo’s criticisms of the CHR.

Jayson Bernard Santos’ fact-checking also went viral with almost 3,500 in shares.

There were also issues surrounding the way the lawmakers voted for or against the P1,000 budget for CHR.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said he was “disappointed” for not being around to vote against the budget slash and apologized to the Filipinos.

Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, through her son Luis Manzano’s Twitter page, said that she was against the budget cut because there is “so much crime/EJK.” However, she was absent during the debates because she was sick.

Iloilo 1st District Rep. Richard Garin said he voted yes due to his dissatisfaction with CHR Chairman Chito Gascon’s performance, although he believed the budget would be “reconsidered and restored” for the salaries of the agency’s employees.

BUHAY Rep. Lito Atienza said that the country’s problem right now include human rights violations, so the CHR deserves more than P600 million, citing P2 billion as a proper budget for the agency to function.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said he was not around during the plenary debates, but was then confident the budget would be restored, calling the CHR one of the “vital institutions.”

Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin said he also skipped the deliberation, but said that he recognized the CHR’s constitutional mandate in protecting human rights.

Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman clarified the issue after speculations as to how she voted on the CHR budget cut, saying that she was absent during the deliberations, but had she been present, she would have “upheld the importance of such a crucial government agency like the CHR.”

Other lawmakers also explained their side on the voting.

After voting for a P1,000 budget for CHR on September 12, the House panel restored the agency’s and that of the Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Commission on Indigenous People on September 20.

Sources: ( rappler.com , cnnphilippines.com , philstar.com )

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’

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President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks

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His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( rappler.comphilstar.com )

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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show

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Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.

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Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

Sources: ( tnt.abante.com.phphilstar.comrappler.com )

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal

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Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.

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In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

Sources: ( inquirer.netnews.abs-cbn.com , nnphilippines.com )

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