Recto urges PNOY to assess effects of typhoon Juan on 2011 budget

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 27, 2010-Sen. Ralph G. Recto, chair of the Senate ways and means committee, called on President Aquino's administration to assess the effects of the damage wrecked by typhoon Juan on the 2011 national budget and make the needed adjustments, if necessary.


He said that typhoon Juan has just planted itself to be one big macroeconomic assumption on the national budget next year. For sure, he said, the damage it has created will affect our spending and our sourcing of funds, adding that the real task is to determine how this will affect the budget for next year.


The recent typhoon had been pegged at over P7 billion, with damages to crops, including livestock, estimated at around P5 billion in Northern Luzon, particularly in the Cagayan Valley region, indicating the preliminary assessment resulting from the recent typhoon.


“The Cagayan Valley Region which was badly hit by the typhoon is the second largest producer of rice in the country. Does this mean we have to import rice next year?” Sen. Recto said, adding that we cannot ignore the impact of the losses we incurred because of the typhoon. It would also take funds to rehabilitate what was lost like roads, bridges and other public structures.


The damage that came from typhoon Juan also affected the growth targets set by the administration for this year and 2011.


He explained how these will affect the nation’s fourth quarter growth or its overall growth targets for next year. The administration may need to review its targets and take into consideration the recent onslaught of what is dubbed to be one of the strongest typhoons in recent memory, Recto added.


The government expects to grow the domestic economy in the range of 5 percent to 6 percent while slowing down to 4 percent in 2011. Multilateral lending agencies, however, project a more optimistic growth of 7 percent this year.


But Recto stressed that the economic cost of typhoon Juan would surely dent the government's growth numbers.


The senator earlier said that the government will have to dig deeper into its budgetary pockets to bankroll an immediate cash assistance plan to victims of typhoon Juan in affected provinces of Northern Luzon.


“The Aquino administration could draw emergency funding to extend financial assistance to typhoon victims from the following: tap remaining funds from this year’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program and use savings from interest debt payments,” he said. (Jason de Asis)


 Angara seeks revamp of RPs youth participation

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 27, 2010-Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that the  Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) has already served its purpose as an indicator of youth governance in the Philippines, but may have already outlived its usefulness.


The government in the 80’s gauged the participation of the youth in the governance of the country through the SK election as an experiment. After almost 30 years, the Senator believes that SK has already outlived its usefulness.


Sen. Angara expressed concern over using "youth" as an ambiguous term in itself, but in this case referring to young adults and teenagers as young as 15 years old in the middle of an admittedly dirty political arena.


“We have to consider the fact that we’re exposing the youth to politics, Philippine style, which we all know is a no-holds-barred avenue. I am concerned because we are accelerating the entrance of such malleable, impressionable minds into Philippine politics and all its less-than honorable practices,” he stressed.


According to Angara, several options are possible to continue the representation of the youth in the government without the negative by-products.


Instead of setting up an independent institution like SK. Elected positions can be created in the barangay, municipal or provincial governments.


“This will be more practical and economical, since there is no need to hold separate elections specifically for them, and because of the integration, these representatives will have better access to the resources for their projects,” he said. (Jason de Asis)


Escudero says impasse between the SC and  UP Law does not augur well for freedom of expression

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, October 27, 2010-Senator Chiz Escudero, chair of the Senate justice and human rights committe and a former member of the UP Law Faculty, said the impasse between the Supreme Court and the University of the Philippines Faculty of Law does not augur well for our freedom of expression.


“Any government official, including members of the judiciary, should not be sensitive about the dissenting public opinion which is permitted in a democratic country,” he said.


Supreme Court (SC) members, as all other government officials, are always under public visibility, thus criticisms such as that from the UP Law faculty should be taken constructively, especially given the fact that even our Supreme Court had the matter already investigated, he said.


The democratic system, freedom of expression is a normal process anyone is free to give his opinion and air his grievances and opinion in any issue which is true in the legal profession, where lawyers are advocates for or against a particular judicial controversy over which the SC has the final say.


The SC has the duty to resolve such controversies and even reverses itself at times in the light of significant developments. 


It could be remembered that the issue on the Supreme Court which has ordered 37 faculty members of the University of the Philippines' College of Law to explain why they should not be sanctioned for airing a statement against a magistrate embroiled in a plagiarism controversy.  (Jason de Asis)