House announcements

  Bam calls for probe on secret jail cell, urges PNP to clean up ranks             

(Senate) Sen. Bam Aquino has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the operation of a secret jail cell discovered in a police station in Manila as he called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to clean up its ranks to bring legitimacy to the drug war.

“As the government’s enforcement arm in its war against illegal drugs, the PNP should safeguard the public’s trust by ensuring that abusive policemen are investigated and punished accordingly,” Sen. Bam said in Senate Resolution No. 348.

Sen. Bam stressed an upstanding police force must go hand-in-hand with the administration’s war against drugs to earn public trust.

“Kailangan pangalagaan ng kapulisan ang tiwala ng publiko, lalo na dahil prayoridad and giyera kontra ilegal na droga. Hindi katanggap tanggap ang kahit anong pang-aabuso, gaya ng tagong selda na nadiskubre sa loob mismo ng istasyon ng pulis,” said Sen. Bam.

The secret jail cell was discovered by a team from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) inside the Raxabago Police Station in Tondo, Manila. The CHR found 12 persons inside the jail cell where they were detained for at least 10 days even without the filing of proper charges.

The CHR also discovered that the arrests of the 12 detainees were not recorded. Also, families of the detainees claimed that elements of the Drug Enforcement Unit were asking for money, ranging from P40,000 to P100,000, in exchange for their release.

Sen. Bam said the probe is aimed at ensuring that the rights of those under custodial investigation or detention by the Philippine National Police (PNP) are protected.

Earlier, Sen. Bam called on the government not to treat with kid gloves erring policemen who were behind the secret jail cell, insisting that they should be held accountable for their actions.

“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang ganitong pagmamalabis. Kailangan itong maimbestigahan at matigil,” said Sen. Bam.

If the PNP will not make the necessary steps to hold erring policemen accountable for their illegal acts, Sen. Bam said abuses such as the secret jail cell will continue and even flourish.


Senate OKs bill updating penalties under old Revised Penal Code

(Senate) The Senate passed  on third and final reading a bill which seeks to update the amounts prescribed under the 87-year old Revised Penal Code, to prevent the imposition of cruel and excessive punishment.Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, sponsor and author of Senate Bill No. 14, said the bill sought to address the “outdated” penalties for certain crimes, which were based on the economic standards since the Revised Penal Code first took effect in 1930.The bill, co-authored by Senator Leila de Lima and co-sponsored by Senator Richard Gordon, was approved with 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.

Drilon noted that in 2014, the Supreme Court, in the case of Lito Corpuz v. People of the Philippines (G. R.No. 180016, 29 April 2014) had asked Congress to amend the Revised Penal Code and “take into consideration the changed conditions since the law’s enactment.”

“The only remedy is to call for the much- needed overhaul of an archaic law that was promulgated decades ago when the political, socio-economic, and cultural settings were very much different from today’s conditions,” Drilon said.

He said the bill essentially sought to “update the value of the damages used in determining the extent of liability and imprisonment; and adjust the amount of fines,” using a formula adopted from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“The application of the DOJ formula yields adjusted rates that are more appropriate for the objectives of the law – one, to avoid the imposition of cruel and excessive punishment, and two, to make imposable fines an effective deterrent to crimes,” Drilon said.

For instance, Drilon said, a person found guilty of estafa today involving an amount of P250 would suffer a jail term or would be imprisoned for up to two years and four months. Under the proposed measure, the imposable penalty for such an offense involving the same amount “would be reduced to four months of imprisonment.”

In contrast, Drilon said a P5 fine imposed under the present Revised Penal Code “would be increased to P1,000.”According to the bill, imposed fines on high crimes such as treason and rebellion will increase from ₱20,000 and ₱8,000 to a maximum of ₱4 million and ₱1.6 million respectively.The bill also seeks to update penalties for maltreatment of prisoners, unlawful arrest and indirect assault from ₱500 to ₱100,000 while penalties for falsification of documents will be increased from ₱5,000 to ₱1 million.

Drilon said the proposed measure would have a retroactive effect, and was expected to benefit about 54,189 mostly poor inmates.

“Not that they will be immediately released, but their sentences will be equitably reduced, corresponding to today’s value of the property stolen, not the values set in 1930,” he stressed. “We truly believe that the threat of injustice created by an outdated instrument of justice is real, and thus requires immediate legislative action.” (Olive Caunan)


Think of public interest in approving projects: Alvarez to DOTr 

House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez has called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to fast-track the building of the Light Railway Transit (LRT) – Metro Railway Transit (MRT) common station and to consider public welfare as its priority for the project. 
The Speaker issued the call during the resumption of the hearing by the committee on transportation chaired by Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes) on the common station project that will link LRT 1, MRT 3 and the forthcoming MRT 7.
 “Masyado nang mahaba ang panahon na ginugol natin dito. Marami nang pagdinig na ginawa, even during the 14thCongress at na-establish na rin kung saan dapat yung common station, in the interest of the public,” Alvarez said. 
Alvarez said it was high time for the government to identify where the common station should be since funding for the project will come from the government, using the budget allocated by Congress. 
“Let those who want to question the government to do it in the proper venue,” said the Speaker. 
“I’m sure bawal mag-TRO sa government projects. Ngayon, kung may mag-file ng contempt, eh di i-contempt nila yung gobyerno. Pero hindi dapat naaantala ang proyekto ng gobyerno dahil lang meron tayong ibang interes na sine-serve. Dapat isasaalang-alang natin yung interes ng riding public na gumagamit ng pasilidad,” Alvarez said.
The Speaker asked DOTr officials “to start building, with or without a TRO, the common station that is in the interest of the riding public.”

 “Nagkaroon na ditto ng pandinig yung House of Representatives at na-identify na kung saan yung common station. Yun ang gusto naming makita na gawin ng gobyerno dahil nag-allocate na tayo ng budget para diyan. Hindi yung kung saang station yan,” Alvarez stressed.

the noblest motive is the greatest good for the greatest number