Roxas to GMA: Truth or Consequence

Senator Mar Roxas warned President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that her government’s continued stonewalling of the truth and obstruction of justice will soon break the nation apart.

The Liberal Party President said the Chief Executive should view today’s Makati rally as a fair consequence of her administration’s failure to come clean on the ZTE-National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy.

Ang hamon ngayon, Ginang Pangulo: ‘truth or consequence.’ Huwag maging balakid sa katotohanan, kung hindi, patuloy na aapaw ang galit ng tao sa lansangan,” he said.

In case you haven’t noticed, Mrs. President, the people are angry. They are very, very angry. And if you continue to turn a blind eye to this and sing your chorus that everything’s above board, then your so-called ‘Strong Republic’ will just break apart into 86 million pieces,” he added.
The co-chairman of the Joint Senate Committees investigating the NBN deal said the President must act to “save the Republic” by facing the situation squarely and by taking concrete steps to reveal the truth. The first step is ordering her officials to appear before the Senate, to submit all documents in relation to the ZTE-NBN deal, to testify and reveal all that needs to be revealed.

Roxas warned the administration that by continuing to be detached from the pent-up feelings of the people, this detachment will return a hundredfold: A nation of people whose anger has transformed into apathy. “Our country is already broken. Ang tiwala ng ating mga kababayan sa pamahalaan, sa ating mga institusyon, sa ating mag opisyales, ay mababang-mababa na o kaya wala na talaga,” he said.

Ang rally ngayon ay patikim lang ng inis at galit ng taumbayan sa paggapos ng administrasyon sa katotohanan, sa asta nilang sila lamang ang may monopolyo sa bayan. The administration’s disastrous stance will lead the people to their wit’s end, to do what they can do to escape a country which they couldn’t call their own anymore,” he said.
He urged the administration to stop its defensive chorus and take the following steps to help put closure to the ZTE mess: Revoke Executive Order 464; order officials to attend the inquiries into the deal not only by the Senate, but also the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice; order them to submit to the Senate all documents of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) relative to the decision-making process on the NBN; and suspend those who do not follow.

Friday, February 29, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: "We deserve better than this"

Malolos, Bulacan – Senator Mar Roxas said the people deserve better than what the government is doing to address the current political crisis, which stemmed from anomalies involved with the government’s contract with ZTE Corp. of China for a National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

We are a great nation. We are a great people. We deserve better than this,” he said, speaking before an inter-city Rotary Club gathering here.

“Kung nakikita ko na ganito ang kalagayan natin at napakalungkot naman, at hindi lang ako nalulungkot, naiinis ako, dumating na ako sa nakakagalit na, at talaga namang imposible, parang ginagago na tayo,” he said.
The senator lamented that the country is being left behind in the global economy because the leadership is too involved in the struggle for political survival.
We are missing out on trade opportunities because the government has become too entangled in a web of corruption and deceit. The default for our youth is simply to go abroad,” he said.
Roxas called on the government to “save the Republic:” to respond with sincerity and earnestness to the people’s demand for the truth. He stressed that the people have the right to demand the truth from their leaders.

For one, he said the government should immediately lift Executive Order 464 and all other restraints on all officials invited by the Senate to testify on the ZTE-NBN contract. It should also grant the Senate full and untrammeled access to all pertinent documents in the files of the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Transportation and Communications on the deal.

He said the President should instruct all her cabinet officials and police officials to attend all investigations, not only the Senate’s but also the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman. Those who do not follow, he said, should be suspended.
Ang gusto ko ay magbago ang ating sitwasyon. Ang gusto ko ho ay maging proud tayo, na maipagmamalaki natin yung mga nangyayari sa ating bansa,” he said.

Ang gusto ko ay yung ating passport pag pumasok tayo sa ibang bansa, hinahangaan at hindi pinagtatawanan. Ang gusto ko ho ang ating mga kababayan, ang ating mga kabataan ay makakahanap ng kanilang trabaho dito sa ating bansa at hindi sa ibang bansa,” he stressed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas to PGMA: "Save the Republic"

Davao City – Senator Mar Roxas on Wednesday made a call to the President to “save the Republic,” in light of controversies arising from the anomalous government contract with ZTE Corp. for a National Broadband Network.

At the sidelines of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines’ Mindanao Island Cluster Congress, Roxas outlined to reporters his proposed steps that the President could take relative to controversies hounding her administration.
My recommendation to the President would be to save the Republic, to save the instutution of the Presidency, to save our country from Constitutional crisis, by doing the following:

First, to lift EO 464; Second, to instruct all her cabinet officials and police officials to attend all investigations not just the Senate’s but also the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman, so they can tell everybody kung ano talaga ang nangyari rito;

Third, to suspend such officials who do not follow this; Fourth, to instruct the National Economic and Development Authority to release to the Senate the all documents relative to the NEDA hearings on the ZTE contract.”
Asked by reporters to describe the country at present, Roxas, president of the Liberal Party, said it is “broken.” “Our country is broken. The institutions have low credibility. The executive itself has low respect from the people. And we need to fix this. Ang ating mga kababayan, yung tiwala nila sa ating pamahalaan, sa ating mag opisyales ay mababang-mababa na o kaya wala na,” he said.
Kaya magagamot lamang natin ito, aayos lamang ang ating bansa kung maibalik natin ang tiwala ng ating mga kababayan sa kanilang pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng tuwid at tapat na pang-gogobyerno,” he stressed.
Roxas, who is Co-Chairman of the Joint Senate Panel investigating the botched ZTE-NBN deal, said the Senate will continue on with its hearing in the interest of the truth, despite a chorus from the Palace calling for its abortion. He also said that former NEDA Director General Romulo Neri is key to this search for truth.
Neri is a very important important component in the story. Siya mismo ang nagsabi sa Pangulo na may bribe attempt sa kanya. At kung anuman ang sinagot sa kanya ng Pangulo ay siya rin ang makakapagsabi niyan,” he said.

What we want to know is first, what were the anomalies here, who perpetuated them and cases should be filed against them. Second, how can we amend our procurement laws para hindi na maulit itong gawain na ito,” he stressed.

Sen. Mar Roxas with CBCP

Senator Mar Roxas and several lawmakers (right photo) discuss the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) with members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP, left photo), in a meeting Thursday morning at the Pope Pius Catholic Center in Paco, Manila.

Roxas stressed that any extension of the CARP should not be “for the sake of extending it,” and that the law required changes to ensure that farmer-beneficiaries are given not just land but an assistance package that would include farm inputs and implements. With Roxas are Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel. Representatives of the CBCP included (left to right) Revs. Bernardo Cortez, Martin Jumoad and Jose Oliveros, former Commission on Elections Chairman Christian Monsod, Revs. Antonio Ledesma, Honesto Pacana, Edwin De La Peña and Buenaventura Famadico.

Roxas calls on AMLC to verify Madriaga testimony

Senator Mar Roxas said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) should verify alleged fund transfers in relation to the controversial ZTE-National Broadband Network (NBN) project, as per the testimony of Engr. Dante Madriaga, a self-claimed consultant to ZTE Corp.

On Tuesday, Roxas made a motion to the Senate Joint Committee investigating the anomalous NBN project to formally request the AMLC to verify the amounts supposedly moved offshore, the dates of the said transfers and the names involved, as discussed by Madriaga during the hearing.
Makikita natin kung mayroon ganyang halaga na pumasok dito sa pamamagitan ng AMLC. Proseso ito na itinalaga sa ating batas, para nga itong mga labas-pasok na pera na ito ay ma-monitor lalong-lalo na kung bunga ito ng mga iligal na gawain,” Roxas, co-chair of the Senate’s NBN hearings, said.

We appreciate the testimony of Engr. Madriaga as to the amount of cash that changed hands as part of the NBN mess. But in order to build a stronger case, we need documentary evidence,” he added.
During the Tuesday hearing, Roxas deferred questioning Madriaga until his claims are placed in a sworn affidavit, with all details clearly threshed out.
I defer my questioning not because of doubts on Madriaga’s testimony, but because it would provide greater weight to his statements if we base our questions on a sworn affidavit. The more detail, the more we could see the veracity of his statements,” he said.
Madriaga, who said he was a consultant for NBN contractor ZTE from May 2006 to March 2007, had tagged the First Couple, along with businessmen Ruben Reyes and Leo San Miguel, retired policeman Quirino de la Torre and former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos, as major players in the anomalous broadband project.
Roxas said, “The intricacies of alleged corruption in this case–yung detalye nitong sinasabing “bukol”—ay unti-unti nang lumalabas. For the Senate to act appropriately on this case, we need the whole story, and we need the full cooperation of the government.”

Sen. Roxas to arrive at Davao City tomorrow

Senator Mar Roxas will be arriving at Davao City tomorrow Wednesday, to attend the 1st League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) Mindanao Island Cluster Congress.

He praised the LMP for its efforts in furthering unity and progress in Mindanao, noting how its programs reflected “Unity Amidst Diversity Towards Genuine Peace, Progress and Countryside Development,” which is the theme of the event to be held at the Grand Regal Hotel in Lanang, Davao City.
Roxas, keynote speaker for the event, said “It is about time that we change the perception that national development primarily presides in Manila. We have begun our efforts as early as 1991 with the Local Government Code, but our industries in the countryside remain hampered, due in part to the lack of sustainability of peace and order.”

I believe that our provinces have a lot to gain, and have a lot to contribute, as a result of a peaceful environment,” he added.
Ramon Abalos, mayor of Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat and President of the LMP, is organizing the event, to be attended by about 40 other municipal mayors of Mindanao. Also invited are President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Cabinet members.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, said the LMP would have a lot to gain as well from listening to what their constituents had to say.
It is important to get the pulse of the people, and learn from them what their needs are, and how local officials can help in this regard,” he said, noting that he has already held talks with some leaders on initiating a Visayas-Mindanao Development Agenda.

By holding consultations, we can find out what industries need the most attention, and devise a comprehensive plan that would make the most of what we have, and create new wealth and value for each constituency,” he said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Transcript of interview with Senator Mar Roxas on ABS-CBN's 'Umagang Kay Ganda'

On the President’s knowledge of the flaws in the NBN deal with ZTE:

Q: Sa hearing ng Senado ngayong araw na ito, kasama na ba sa agenda yung pag-amin ng Pangulo na alam niya may anomalya sa NBN project?

MAR: Siguradong kasama na iyan, at kung hindi naman ako, I’m sure the committee as a whole, hihilingin namin or isa-subpoena namin yung transcript ng kanyang interview. Ang mahalagang malaman dito, kase malaking development ito, ay kailan niya nalaman, at ano ang kanyang ginawa rito.

Q: Ang katwiran ng Presidente ay kahiyaan sa China kapag hindi itinuloy ang kontrata.

MAR: Mahalagang malaman kung ano ba talaga ang nalaman niya. Tsismis lang ba? Ito ba ang pag-report sa kanya ni Neri na “Ma’am, sinuhulan ako rito”? Ano ang kabuuan ng pagkaalam niya? At ano ang ginawa niya matapos n’on? Kase may dahilan naman e, sabihin na “Ang asawa ko, kaoopera lang, ‘di ako makapunta,” pangalawa, hindi naman ito government-to-government, private company ito e. Pangatlo, kaya may Secretary bilang alter-ego ng Pangulo, pwede naman na Secretary o kaya Vice-President ang pinadala roon. In fact, yung pumirma sa panig ng China, vice-president lang ng kumpanya, hindi naman opisyal ng Tsina o chairman ng kumpanya. So parang malabo nang kaunti na kahiyaan ito.

Q: Ano ang pananagutan ng Pangulong Arroyo?

MAR: Palagay ko yung pagiging witness, hindi naman masyado. Ang pananagutan dito kung may nalaman ang pangulo, o kahit sinong opisyal, ng anomalya o isang katiwalian, at wala silang ginawa tungkol dito. Nakita na halos five months na lumipas bago kinansela o sinuspend itong contract, at nangyari lamang iyan dahil sa pagkakaroon na ng mga whistleblowers, nagkaroon na ng mga testigo na may anomalya nga itong kontrata.

Q: So hindi kayo naniniwala na kinansela ito dahil sa mga anomalya?

MAR: Hinde, nakita naman natin na in fact every step of the way, halos ginawa ang lahat para hindi lumabas ang katotohanan. Yung EO 464 ininvoke, hindi sumipot ang mga opisyales, hanggang sa ngayon si Secretary Neri ini-invoke ang executive privilege. Para mapatunayan o maipakita talaga na interesado, seryoso ang Malacañang na malaman ang katotohanan, una, i-revoke ang EO 464; pangalawa, utusan ang mga Cabinet na may kinalaman dito na sumipot at magsabi ng katotohanan; pangatlo, ‘pag kinakailangan, isuspinde itong mga may kinalaman dito para hindi naman makulayan itong kontrata.

Q: E diba yung mga Cabinet officials, mula noong September, sinasabi na walang anomalya rito?

MAR: Iyon ang katuwa-tuwa, kase tumugtog na yung banda, kumakanta na sila ng koro, sabay yung lead singer, iba yung kinanta. Kaya ngayon, nasira na ang mga kinanta nila, kase iba na e, sabi ng lead singer na may alam siya na maanomalya ito, at iyon ang dahilan kaya kinansela ito. Samantala yung koro ng banda – “malinis ito, mabuti ito, mahusay ito.”

Q: Kaya mukhang nag-sinungaling ang lahat ng opisyal.

MAR: Kung opisyal ako, kailangan nang pag-isipan na mag-resign, o kaya magsabi na, “Hinde, ito yung bersiyon ko.” Kase sinabi na for five months, magmula noong nagsimula itong mga hearings, pilit nila sinasabi na mahusay ito, maganda ito, at walang anomalya ito.

Q: Ano sa tingin mo ang dahilan kaya inamin ito ng Presidente?

MAR: Hindi na talaga nating malalaman kung talagang kasama ito, may talking points ba siya diyan, kung may plano ito o nadulas lang. Ang punto dito ay magkaiba na ang istorya ng Pangulo doon sa mga opisyales niya, kaya kailangan malaman natin talaga kung ano ang nangyari. Magkaiba naman ang Pangulo, ang executive branch, sa Senado. Pwede naman na gumawa ng deposition. Wala naman kasing pangangailangan na pumunta pa siya sa Senado. Sabihin lang niya, “Ito yung nagsabi sa akin, ito yung sinabi sa akin, ito ang dahilan kaya tinuloy ko pa rin ang pag-witness ng pirmahan, at itong yung dahilan kaya for five months wala akong ginawa para itigil ang kontratang ito.”

Q: Maaari bang ipatawag ng Senado ang Pangulo?

MAR: Wala pa ‘atang precedent na ganoon, pero pagbigay respeto sa tanggapan ng opisina, sa institusyon ng pagkakapangulo, maaari na hindi naman pumunta sa Senado, pero under oath, pwede niyang sabihin sa abogado niya “Ito yung nalaman ko, ito yung nagsabi sa akin.” What did the President know, when did she know it, and what did she do about it? Iyon ang mga pinakamahalagang tanong dito.

Q: Ano ang nakikita niyong kinabukasan ng Office of the President gawa ng mga problemang ito?

MAR: Malubha ang ating sitwasyon ngayon. Nagmula ito sa mga suhulan. Ang kontrata, nagbunga na ito ng sa abduction. Ngayon ang Pangulo na mismo ang naka-target dito. Ang importante dito ay ibalik ng Pangulo yung kredibilidad doon sa tanggapan ng pagkapangulo. Iyon ang pinakamahalagang tanggapan doon sa pamahalaan natin, at palagay ko, kung gawin nga niya ito, i-suspend niya ang mga opisyales na may kinalaman dito, tanggalin niya yung EO 464, utusan niya ang lahat na pumunta sa Senado o kung saan man at magsabi ng katotohanan, doon, maibabalik niya ang kredibilidad ng kanyang tanggapan.

Statement of Sen. Mar Roxas on President Arroyo's admission of flawed NBN Deal

This is the President’s second public ‘mea culpa’ after a major scandal of public interest, which in this instance is the ZTE-NBN deal. In the first instance, the ‘Hello Garci’ wiretapping incident that points to alleged fraud in the 2004 presidential polls, she said, ‘I am sorry’.

But after saying so, she put out orders that limited freedom of expression and of the press, that compromised and denigrated the independence of Congress, and sent a chilling effect to all.

Bakit tayo ngayon maniniwala na pagkatapos ng pag-amin ng Pangulo ay magkakaroon ng hustisya? Na hindi na mauulit ang mga ganitong anomalya?

How can we believe in the sincerity of the President to set things right in the face of E.O. 464, the Lozada abduction and harassment clearly intended to impede truth and justice?

How can we believe in the sincerity and motives of the President if she is using our diplomatic relations with China as an excuse for not preventing a crime against the Filipino people?

If the President is indeed sincere in her latest admission of fault, then she should immediately lift E.O. 464; order the NEDA Director-General to submit to the Senate all NEDA-ICC documents in relation to the NBN; and other actions that respect the people’s right to free expression and to information.

Without these actions, the status quo remains, and the people’s crusade for truth will snowball.

Another blogger voter has decided to support Mar Roxas in 2010

As I was surfing the blogosphere, another blogger (Silver Lining Blog) voter has finally decided to support and vote Senator Mar Roxas if ever he runs for President in the upcoming 2010 Presidential elections. Here's the excerpt of the blog post entitled I’ve Found My President!:

It is final and executory. I am voting for Mar Roxas in the 2010 Presidential elections.

Prior to yesterday’s convocation, I have no plans of participating in the second presidential elections of my life, for two reasons: 1) the COMELEC would always find a way to cheat with the cheaters, and 2) the ever-cunning Arroyo camp would somehow find a way to hold on to its power.

I was, in the simplest sense, hopeless and apathetic. My plan was to join a volunteer camp in South Africa in 2010 and perhaps die of malaria in there, just as what had happened to my foster brother’s friend. I could not see a point in living for my dear old rotting country. My ever-idealistic friends have lost their idealism and even my father, the one who always taught me of being critical of the government in a positive way, has resigned to the fact that the current administration will do everything just to keep in power and has even told me to just do nothing because nothing will change anyway.


Saturday, February 23, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Sen. Roxas visits Dumaguete, Bacolod cities

Senator Mar Roxas visited Dumaguete City and Bacolod City prior to the weekend, holding talks with various sectors on issues that matter to the people and discussing with them his advocacies to put people first.

Arriving in Dumaguete City on Thursday morning, the senator, known as “Mr. Palengke,” went to the Dumaguete City Public Market, checking on prices of basic goods and ensuring that wet market facilities were up to standard.

In both cities, he held a dialogue with tricycle and pedicab drivers to discuss the effect of the high prices of fuel, medicines and their other needs, and on his proposals to address these by suspending the 12% value-added tax on oil and through the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill, among other advocacies.
Sa panahon ngayon na napakataas ng presyo ng petrolyo sa mundo, na talagang nakakaapekto sa presyo ng lahat ng bilihin, napapanahon nang tanggalin o i-suspinde ang VAT sa langis,” he said.

At dahil ang ating mga traysikel at pedicab drivers ay laging nasa kalsada, nabibilad sa araw o nababasa ng ulan, at lagi pang nakakalanghap ng usok, talagang nakabanta lagi sa kanila ang sakit. Para sa kapakanan nila at ng iba pang mga tao, nararapat nang ipasa ang Affordable Medicines Bill,” he added.
Meanwhile, also in Dumaguete City, the Liberal Party President went to Silliman University, one of the most renowned academic institutions in Asia, to speak before its students on law and development.
In our recent times, we see a disconnect in how, instead of being beneficiaries of the law, people feel victims of the law. Because in reality, those sworn to uphold the law are themselves breaking the law,” he said.

Take a look, for example, at what has happened in this ZTE-NBN scandal. The procurement laws that require bidding were bypassed, and so we have an overpriced contract for something we don’t really need. Then comes the abduction of Jun Lozada and the syncrhonized cover-up afterwards. What does it show us, but a government not upholding the law?” he said.

If we are to heal our country, we are in need of leaders who will not only safeguard the law, but make sure that these laws reflect values of an evolving society, not to stagnate it for vested interests,” he stressed.

Roxas to DFA: Act swiftly to seek justice on rape case in Japan

Senator Mar Roxas called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to “act swiftly” in ascertaining the facts behind a reported rape incident involving a United States Army serviceman and a Filipina victim.
Ensure protection of and assistance to the reported Filipina victim, and see that speedy justice is served,” he urged.
The Liberal Party President noted that not too long ago, in November 2005, the Philippine government encountered serious controversy over the custody of now convicted rapist US Marine Daniel Smith, to the dismay of the victim’s family and the public.
If legal difficulties arose in a rape committed in Philippine soil, we should learn our lesson and be better prepared in protecting our own national in a foreign country, in a foreign court, under foreign laws,” Roxas said.
It was reported that the latest rape incident was committed in Okinawa sometime in the middle of February, and that the city’s police were seeking an arrest warrant for the US soldier who allegedly committed the crime.

Roxas said the Philippine government should also double-check information on the incident provided by the US government, which may be over zealously shielding one of its soldiers from the reach of justice.
We have seen that happen here, and our DFA should be able to discern whether we’re being offered a sanitized version of events,” he said.

Roxas pushes ZERO VAT ON OIL to ease consumer price increases

After the price of crude oil closed above $100 a barrel for the first time on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Sen. Mar Roxas urged Congress to summon enough political will to suspend the value-added tax (VAT) on oil and petroleum products.

Roxas said the proposed suspension of the 12% VAT on oil, as proposed in Senate Bill No. 1962, would in a big way help ease inflation, which rose to a 15-month high of 4.9 percent in January, as consumer prices surged across all commodity groups.
Wala tayong pagdududa na itong pagtaas ng presyo ng krudo ay magdudulot ng pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin. Kaya dapat nang i-suspinde ang VAT sa langis para pigilan ang pag-akyat pa ng mga presyo ng bilihin,” Roxas said.

The suspension of the VAT on oil will definitely help restrain consumer price increases going forward, and extend direct and material relief to our people, particularly those getting fixed wages," said Roxas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade.
Roxas said that suspending the VAT now is the best safety net in these times of high prices of goods, coupled with escalating political tensions amid fresh accusations of massive corruption in the botched National Broadband Network project.
Let’s take advantage now of the ‘goodness of heart’ of some people in Malacañang. But instead of P500,000 per witness, why don’t they give a break to the people worth P4 per liter of diesel or P65 per 11-kilo tank of LPG?” he quipped.
Crude oil prices soared amid persistent concern as to whether production can keep up with rising global demand. The price closed at $100.01 on the Nymex on Tuesday – the first-ever close above the $100-a-barrel mark.

Earlier, the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that the country's inflation surged to 4.9 percent in January. This was more than two percentage points higher than the 2.8 percent average inflation in 2007. Furthermore, the prices of rice, corn, cereal, dairy products, eggs, fish and fruits all went up sharply in January.
Hindi lang transportasyon ang apektado dito. Ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda natin ay biktima rin ng abot-langit na presyo ng petrolyo, na ginagamit nila sa kanilang mga bangka at sa irigasyon,” Roxas said.

"Our proposal to temporarily lift the VAT on oil is a fair, sensible and practical way for us to provide direct relief to ordinary Filipinos. We will be helping not only small food producers, but also plain consumers," he said.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Breakthrough in Bicam of Affordable Medicines Bill: 90% done

Senator Mar Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, today announced the bicameral conference committee on the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill has had a breakthrough in discussions, resulting in roughly 90% of the bill already agreed on.

After the four-hour bicam committee meeting on Tuesday night, and after four “pre-bicam” meetings prior to this, representatives of both the House and Senate have also arrived at a consensus on drug price regulation.
Halos nobenta porsyento ay magkasundo o magkaparehas, o malapit na malapit nang magkasundo kaya ito’y isinantabi na at okey na, subject to style na lang,” he said, referring to provisions that seek to strengthen competition in the pharmaceutical industry, including amendments to the Intellectual Property Code to allow parallel importation, strengthening the Bureau of Food and Drug, amending the Pharmacy Law, among other provisions.

Doon naman sa drug price regulation, tinatanggap namin na dapat magkaroon ng regulasyon sa mga pagkakataon na ang market system ay hindi gumagana nang maayos,” he said, noting that the technical staff of the senators and congressmen are now drafting the wording of this provision.
On how the provisions on drug price regulation of the Senate and House versions were married, Roxas explained: “Ang kapangyarihan na napakaloob at nalista doon sa House version, ibibigay sa Secretary of Health, para nasa kanya na ang awtoridad na mag-regulate lalong-lalo na kapag malaki ang agwat sa presyo ng mga gamot dito sa atin kumpara doon sa ibang bansa.”

Roxas said the only remaining provision for the bicameral committee to thresh out was on amendments to the Generics Law that would only allow generic names of drugs—and not any brand name—to be written on the prescription.

He noted while the House members wanted a “generics-only” provision that would prohibit doctors from writing brand names in prescriptions, Senators fear this may merely shift the selection of brands from the doctor to the rugstore.
Naghahanap talaga kami ng mekanismo para maitulay ang dalawang posisyon. Ang pinakamahalaga rito ay magkakaroon ng malayang pagpili ng gamot ang mga pasyente,” Roxas said.

Transcript of press briefing with Senator Mar Roxas on quality affordable medicines

MAR: The bicam panel, now at 10 o’clock agreed to suspend for the evening and to resume again at a later time. Marami ang napag-usapan, we started at 6 o’clock. Over the last four hours, we tackled the various provisions of the two bills. As I said, halos nobenta porsyento ay magkasundo o magkaparehas, o malapit na malapit nang magkasundo kaya ito’y isinatabi na at okey na, subject to style na lang.

Doon naman sa regulation, mukhang nagkaroon ng mga paglapit ng mga posisyon. Tanggap naming lahat na kadalasan, yung market system ay hindi maayos ang pagtrabaho dito sa ating bansa, na nagkakaroon ng monopoly o oligopoly. Masyadong concentrated yung powers ng distribution o sa marketing. Kaya tinanggap na dapat magkaroon ng regulasyon sa mga pagkakataon that the market system is not working. This regulation will be a powerful regulation, at napakaloob ito sa Department of Health, sa Secretary of Health at sa Pangulo. Iyan ang proposal na sa kasalukuyan ay on the table.

Doon naman sa generics provision, malayo pa rin talaga ang mga posisyon, and there were some proposals and counterproposals that are on the table, at iyan ang pag-iisipan over the next several days.

Q: So what was resolved?

MAR: Doon sa regulation, malapit na malapit na, and we’re going to draft up the language now, at sa palagay ko, hindi na masyado magiging problema ang price regulation. I think one remaining aspect will be the generics only provision, iyon na lang talaga ang malayo pa ang mga posisyon.

Sa regulation, ang powers na napakaloob at nalista doon sa House version, ibibigay sa Secretary of Health at saka sa Department of Health para nasa kanila na ang kapangyarihan para mag-regulate lalong-lalo na ‘pag malaki ang agwat sa presyo ng mga gamot dito sa atin kung ikumpara doon sa ibang bansa.

Q: We were told that you proposed that for the generics provision, the doctor can provide five different brand names for the patient to choose from.

MAR: Isa iyan, naghahanap kami ng mechanisms para maitulay ang dalawang posisyon. Palagay ko ang pinakamahalaga rito ay magkaroon ng choice yung ating mga pasyente, yung ating mga mamimili, at isang pamamaraan dito ay ang generics only, at yung choice, napakaloob doon sa kanilang konsultasyon hindi sa kanilang doktor pero doon sa kanilang parmasyutika o kaya sa salesgirl.

Para sa Senado, baka mas maganda na yung choice ay napakaloob sa reseta mismo na ang doktor ay magsasabi na ‘ito yung limang gamot na maaaring okey sa iyo, at pagdala nito ng pasyente sa parmasyutika, malalaman niya ngayon yung presyo ng iba’t ibang mga gamot, mabibigyan siya ngayon ng choice kung ano yung price point kung saan siya komportable, na makakasiguro siya na ang lahat ng gamot na ito ay nagmula sa kanyang doktor at hindi doon sa salesgirl lamang. Hindi pa ito tanggap, ito ay isang proposal na inoffer ng Senate, hindi pa naman ito tinatanggap ng House. Nagpapakita ito na naghahanap talaga kami ng mekanismo para maitulay ang mga posisyon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Who do you think is the next president?

Here's a great answer that I found in the Filipino Opinion on Life and Living Blog which I think also deserves a great read (I made some edits on typographical errors):

Answer: I think Senator Mar Roxas would be the next president since he has been very good in his performance since then. He has been one of the best choices of the masses as what we call him, ("Mr. Palengke"). He is also doing his job in a way that he would be recognized by the people because of his excellency yet, he does not do it with a destructive effect and sound to the masses. He is silent yet has a big impact to the people especially the masses. He does not show any bias to those government officials who are now involve in trouble with the Philippine government. He is also able to balance his political and even the entertainment life. He does not use his position as a senator to involve those conflicts among government heads, rather he is making his own ways of pursuing his job and missions despite the troubles in the Philippines nowadays. In this way, he is already gaining more support from the people and also he is winning the sympathy and the attention of the people.
Click here to read more about the article.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Bottom-line of Lozada testimony is rotten procurement

Senator Mar Roxas said the testimony of Engr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada has shed more light into the botched deal of the government with ZTE Corp. of China for a National Broadband Network (NBN), and has stressed the need to reform the rotten procurement system of the government.

Lalong lumalalalim at lumalawak ang larawan na pinapakita ni Engr. Jun Lozada tungkol sa kabulukan sa sistema ng procurement ng ating pamahalaan,” he said.

Iyan naman ang dapat i-focus ng Senado, kung papaano natin aayusin ang procurement ng ating bansa, para ang pera natin ay hindi naman masayang. Inuutang natin ito, kinokolekta natin sa buwis ang pambayad nito, kaya dapat namang mapunta ito sa tama na mga proyekto na priority natin,” he stressed.

Roxas pointed out that after Lozada’s testimony, it is imperative now for the Senate to get the testimony of former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Romulo Nerito say exactly what he knows, in the interest of the truth and public interest.” Neri has since evaded the Senate probe by invoking executive privilege.
It’s now up to Sec. Neri to refute or deny these allegations. What’s important here is that Sec. Neri has sought refuge from the Courts, and this is why we in the Senate are very aggressively pursuing this case, for the Supreme order Sec. Neri to come here and to say exactly what he knows,” he said.

Romy, ikaw ang nakakaalam nito, you can set the nation free by telling us what you know about this. Come, and do your job here,” he added.
The Liberal Party President pointed out that the crux of the NBN controversy is how the government’s policy in pursuing the NBN project changed overnight—from doing it through a build-operate-transfer (BOT) arrangement with the private sector; to borrowing $330 million to finance it—and the crucial role that NEDA played in this case. Roxas and fellow Liberal Sen. Benigno Aquino III filed a case with the high court to reveal the NEDA-Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) documents on the NBN deal, which could shed light on this issue.

I’m more interested in finding out how did the NEDA-ICC, for example, change its stance? Originally, it was meant to have been ‘no loan, no government guarantee, private sector, and not government as principal customer.’ And out of the blue, overnight, naging ‘loan, government project, may government guarantee, and government would be the principal customer.’ Papaano nangyari iyan?” he said.

Roxas condemns "gestapo" tactics of threatening biz community

Senator Mar Roxas condemned the “Gestapo” tactics of the administration in threatening the business community and other professional circles that are vocal in their support of Senate witness Jun Lozada and the overall quest of the truth behind the ZTE-NBN mess.

Roxas issued the statement amid revelations of the Makati Business Club (MBC) that a Cabinet official threatened to unleash the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on anti-administration members.

The BIR was created to make sure that taxation becomes a tool for social and economic development, not as a Damocles’ Sword hovering over detractors of the administration,” he added.
The senator said he was outraged by the reported threat of the unnamed Cabinet official because it shows gross disrespect for the people's sacrifices in paying heavy taxes on goods and services such as the EVAT.

Para bang kung kakampi ka ng administrasyon, puwede kang hindi magbayad ng tax. Pero kung magsasalita ka laban sa administrasyon, humanda ka dahil pakakawalan namin ang BIR para habulin kayo. Ang net effect nito, ang laging naiipit sa ganito – ay ‘yung mga maliliit na manggagawa na walang kawala sa BIR dahil salary deduction ang kita nila buwan-buwan,” Roxas stressed. “The people are tired of all these Gestapo tactics: EO 464, CPR, the use of surveillance and threats, excessive shows of force, abductions and extra-judicial killings, and the continued abuse of government power for political gain or survival. Let the Constitution prevail,” Roxas said.
The LP president called on the people to be vigilant against further use of Gestapo tactics by the administration. “When our basic rights and freedom as a people are at stake, we must rise as one in fighting for these ideals,” Roxas said.

Friday, February 15, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas assails Neri invocation of executive privilege before SC

Senator Mar Roxas assailed former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri’s invocation of executive privilege before the Supreme Court relative to the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy, as he joined colleagues Alan Peter Cayetano and Rodolfo Biazon in asking the tribunal to lift the status quo order preventing the Senate from effecting an arrest order against Neri.

Senator Mar Roxas, co-chair of the Senate joint panel investigating the NBN project, said “Secretary Neri’s insistence on executive privilege stonewalls the people’s efforts to arrive at the truth.”

He noted that the issue of executive privilege had already been settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Executive Order 464, which was used by administration officials to try to avoid Senate probes two years ago.

We maintain that the conversations between the President and Secretary Neri on kickbacks from the NBN, which he had only partially revealed to the Senate, are not part of policymaking covered by executive privilege, as they involve criminal allegations. In addition, the executive can not claim any issue of national security or diplomatic relations, as the NBN is a public concern – all P15 billion in taxpayers’ money of it,” Roxas said.

Speaking through Senate Legal Counsel David Yap and counsels Pacifico Agabin, Jose Anselmo Cadiz and Carlos Medina, Jr., the Senators said that Neri’s erroneous invocation of executive privilege has prevented the joint committees from accessing information needed to comprehensively evaluate the NBN controversy and to craft the necessary remedial legislation to prevent similar anomalies from happening.

They added: “Petitioner has repeatedly and erroneously invoked the executive privilege and by doing so, has unduly and directly interfered with, and obstructed the valid exercise of the powers and functions of herein Respondents as Senators of the Republic. Respondents are therefore left with no other recourse than to exercise the power to cite Petitioner in contempt.”

Without the testimony of Petitioner, Respondent Committees are effectively denied of their right to access to any kinds of useful information and consequently, their right to intelligently craft and propose laws to remedy what is called ‘dysfunctional procurement system of the government’,” they stressed.

It is fervently hoped by Respondents that, in the end, this Honorable Court, in the exercise of its wisdom, will see through this blatant attempt on the part of the Chief Executive to brush aside the Constitutionally-mandated principles of public accountability and right to information,” they added.

The Liberal Party President, along with fellow LP stalwart Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, had filed a separate petition last October seeking clarification on executive privilege, after the NEDA’s refusal to provide minutes of a meeting on the NBN that would shed light on the terminated contract, which was changed from a build-operate-transfer (BOT) to a taxpayer-funded project in March 2007.

200 days and counting... Oras Na! Roxas Na!

Happy Valentines Day to all our readers and blog subscribers! Although I don't have a special someone to spend my Valentines, it's just OK!

Today is a great day not only for me but for all of us! It's the 200th Day Anniversary of the Mar Roxas for President in 2010 Blog! Once again, thanks a lot for bringing our blog into this point of success.

Speaking of success, I am very glad to tell all of you that our blog is now gaining momentum more than ever! Aside from having a lot of interested readers and visitors, we are now one of the TOP 200 150 Blogs of the Philippines based on Ratified.Org which uses Technorati, Feedburner and Google stats to measure the top 100 blogs of the Philippine blogosphere.

And perhaps another good news to coincide our celebration is the latest SWS Survey on who should succeed Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in 2010. Maybe others would say that he's just behind the survey topnotcher Vice President Noli De Castro and Senators Manny Villar and Loren Legarda in that survey and ask us why we should celebrate it. Well, Senator Mar Roxas, in that survey, registered the highest increase among potential presidential candidates from 9% in September 2007 to 20% in December 2007! Click the chart below to see the survey results:

YOU can make a difference!

We and our blog contributed to this success! By helping each other, through different media, we were able to spread the message from Friendster to Facebook to Yahoo Groups. All through this hard-fought campaign to urge Senator Roxas to run for President in 2010, YOU and I have met challenge after challenge head-on.

Every time they start to count us and Senator Roxas out, we prove them wrong. And we're going to keep proving them wrong as many times as we need to until we put Roxas in Malacañang by 2010.

YOU and I know that only the people, not the critics, get to decide whether Roxas should be the next President of the Philippines .

Let's show them what we're made of. Sign the online petition NOW!

As what our motto then says, "Together, all becomes possible!" and now, our new motto "Oras Na! Roxas Na!" Hoyhoyhoy! Hoyhoyhoy! Please tell us about your comments and suggestions on how we can improve more and serve you better.

Don't forget also to subscribe to our posts through e-mail and sign the Mar Roxas for President in 2010 Online Petition!

Bicam on Affordable Medicines to push through next week

Senators and House members of the bicameral conference committee on the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill will proceed as scheduled to deliberate on the measure, this coming Tuesday, February 19.
We’re focused more than ever to get the bill passed for people to reap its benefits soonest,” Roxas, sponsor of the bill at the Senate, said.
Senator Mar Roxas and Senate health committee chair Pia Cayetano met last Wednesday with their counterparts at the House, to discuss how to best promote the local generics industry and boost the availability of more affordable drugs. Among the invited resource persons were former Health secretary Alberto Romualdez and UP College of Medicine faculty Dr. Abundio Balgos and Dr. Suzette Lazo representing the academe, Bureau of Food and Drugs Director Leticia Gutierrez and the Philippine Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (PCPI).

Roxas noted that the senators and congressmen have recognized that the BFAD should be given discretion, subject to certain guidelines, on the manner of testing of various types of drugs.
The sense of the bicam committee is that while we give flexibility to the BFAD, each medicine must undergo thorough inspection in order for the public to be certain of the efficacy and safety of both branded and generic drugs,” Roxas said.
The panel had earlier agreed on the Senate provision to allow the BFAD to retain its earnings for it to better regulate and monitor both local and imported drugs in the market.

Roxas' MSME Bill approved by the Bicameral Conference Committee

Senator Mar Roxas announced that a bicameral conference committee has approved on Tuesday amendments to the Magna Carta for Small Enterprises that will provide greater financial backing for Filipino entrepreneurs.

After considerable deliberation, we have come up with the most effective measure augmenting the finances of our micro, small and medium enterprises [MSMEs], who are really the backbone of our economy,” Roxas, a main proponent of the bill, said.

The continuing concern of our MSMEs is coming up with the finances to make investments. Banks are more inclined to lend to the larger firms with longer credit history, which leaves MSMEs at a disadvantage. Amendments to the present Magna Carta for Small Enterprises will provide MSMEs with increased credit facilities,” he added.
The bill as approved by the bicameral committee will require lending institutions to allocate at least 8% of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses. At present, the law requires only a 6% minimum allocation for these, and a minimum 2% allocation for medium enterprises.

The category of micro, small and medium businesses is also adjusted. Firms will now be considered as micro enterprises when they have total assets worth not more than P3 million, from the previous threshold amount of P1.5 million. Small enterprises will be those with total assets worth P3 million to not more than P15 million, and medium enterprises are those with total assets worth P15 million to not more than P100 million, from the previous threshold amount of P60 million. The amendments are in keeping with Republic Act No. 9178 otherwise known as the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Law.

The Small Business Guarantee & Finance Corp. will be renamed as the Small Business (SB) Corp., and will have an authorized capital stock of P10 billion for the implementation of its policies and programs assisting MSMEs.

MSMEs comprise over 99% of local businesses, and employ 70% of our total work force. Yet they only contribute 30% to our country’s total productivity. This measure is based on the belief that our MSMEs deserve all the help we can give them,” Roxas said.
The bill will have to be ratified by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before being transmitted to the President for enactment.

The President has endorsed the bill already during our last LEDAC meeting in December, and I am confident this will be a law very soon,” he said.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Near-balanced budget allows for oil VAT suspension

Senator Mar Roxas said the near-balanced budget for the entire 2007 as announced by the Finance department would prudently allow for a temporary suspension of the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products, to ease the plight of ordinary Filipinos while ensuring sustained fiscal stability.
Our 2007 deficit is only at P9.4 billion, roughly seven times smaller than the deficit target of P63 billion at the start of last year. If we suspend the VAT on oil products for six months – which the government has admitted would have a relatively small impact of P15 billion – we will still be on track for a balanced budget,” said Roxas, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce.

“Suspending the VAT on petroleum goods is an appropriate response to our improved fiscal standing, especially with the reduced spending that our people face due to record-high prices of oil,” he added.
The Liberal Party President noted that even with a suspended VAT on oil products, the government’s deficit would reach only around P25 billion, still less than 0.3% of the P6.65-trillion GDP for 2007. Prior to this, the government had targeted for the deficit to be 0.9% of GDP.
Our fiscal rating has been recently upgraded by Moody’s, and the government is very capable of providing this much-needed relief for our people. Clearly, we can maintain both the trust of our people and that of international credit rating agencies,” he said.

Our people do not accept that our policymakers are helpless in this issue; they can very well spur consumer spending and the economy as a whole by not collecting the VAT on petroleum products,” he added.
Roxas has filed Senate Bill No. 1962 for the suspension of VAT on oil products for six months, which is now being heard by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. A counterpart bill has been filed in the House by fellow LP stalwart Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya. The Constitution requires a tax measure to be passed in the House before being discussed in the Senate plenary.
I believe my colleagues in the House recognize the urgency of this measure, and will roll it out at the soonest possible time,” Roxas said.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , , | 2 comments [ More ]

Apostol apologizes while Miriam admits something!

After such pressure from Senator Mar Roxas and the Filipino-Chinese community, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol has finally apologized for the racial slur he made against ZTE whistleblower Rodolfo Lozada.

It's a good news, but here comes another one which I bet is very intriguing (but not surprising). Just yesterday, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was accused by Senator Roxas for being fed by Malacañang to destroy the credibility of Mr. Lozada, finally admitted that indeed it was TRUE. But, Malacañang denies it!

Oh c'mon! They would do everything just to save Mrs. Arroyo from these scandals even if it means LYING!

My message to Mr. Apostol, "stick to the issue." To Miriam, "go, go, go!"

Sen. Roxas' statement on Apostol's remarks vs. ZTE whistleblower Lozada

"Chief Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol must apologize to the entire Filipino public especially to the Filipino-Chinese community that has been shamed by his remarks, and to the Chinese people who have suffered an insult despite their deep friendship with the Philippines.

"It is ironic that the President's lawyer has made a racist slur against the very nation from whom this government has sought to borrow millions of dollars that have been purloined by graft.

"His comment was uncalled for and showed great disrespect for Filipinos with Chinese blood which includes our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

"Resorting to insults will not make (Rodolfo) Lozada's testimony less credible.

"Habang ginigiba nila ang pagkatao ni Lozada, lalo silang nagmumukhang desperado. Let's stick to the light, as the nuns said, by being straightforward and honest before the people."
For my part, being an offspring of Chinese and Filipino descent parents (the father of my father was Chinese while his mother was a Filipina), the remarks of Apostol has made me outraged. Why does he keep on turning the other way around? The real issue here is the ZTE fiasco and not the Chinese ancestry of Mr. Lozada.

To the Filipino-Chinese community, let's demand an apology to Mr. Apostol just like what we successfully did with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. This should not happen again, and if it does, we should not remain silent about this racial slur.

Sunday, February 10, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

My interview with Ma'am Janette Toral

17-year old Kevin Ray Chua, known for campaigning for Mar Roxas candidacy in 2010 (, shared his insight on political and election blogging, its advantages, and challenges.

Thanks a lot Ma'am Janette for the video and the interview!

Saturday, February 9, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas calls for inquiry into Southrail Project

Senator Mar Roxas said he will file a resolution on Monday calling for an inquiry into the Southrail project, as part of the Senate’s bid to review the government’s procurement system.
We must put a stop to what NBN witness Jun Lozada has aptly described as the government’s ‘dysfunctional procurement process’,” Roxas, co-chair of the Senate joint committee probing the National Broadband Network project, said.
The senator said he was outraged that multimillion-peso commissions are being discussed in the inner corridors of power while the people’s clamor to suspend the expanded value-added tax (EVAT) on oil fell on deaf ears.
Kung dito lang napupunta ang pinagpawisan ng taumbayan, kawawa naman ang mahihirap na dapat sana’y natutulungan ng pamahalaan,” the Liberal Party President said.
Roxas said he will confer with his colleagues on the timing of the inquiry, since the hearings on the NBN project have yet to be concluded.

He stressed that this new inquiry is not “in aid of grandstanding” as alleged by the Palace.
We have to be vigilant and zealous when it comes to protecting our people’s money because obviously the looting of our Treasury has been going on for some time,” he explained.
The $932-million Southrail project, which is meant to rehabilitate the railway from Manila to Bicol, is to be implemented in two phases. Phase 1, for the rehabilitation of the 423-kilometer stretch from Calamba, Laguna to Legazpi City, has a project cost of $627.8 million. Phase 2 on the other hand creates a new 135-km railway line from Albay to Sorsogon, costing $304.2 million.

Like the $329-million NBN Project, the Southrail was funded by loans from the Export-Import Bank of China.

The senator noted he has already filed a bill on additional safeguards versus corruption in the government procurement process. He stressed the need to look into transparency mechanisms for foreign-funded projects.

LP voted against JDV, what's the problem?

Before I start my discussion on this matter, may I congratulate Ma'am Janette Toral and Max Limpag for the successful Cebu Bloggers Meet-Up yesterday that was held at I-Browse Café. It really gave me an insight on how to improve this blog and make it more equipped for the upcoming 2010 elections.

Anyways, back to our topic. Should there be a fuss if the Liberal Party (LP) of Senator Mar Roxas voted against the former House Speaker Jose de Venecia? I think it's just an over reaction. After all, the LP was deprived from having a representative in the Commission on Appointments, House committee chairmanships and its priority bills were not given a chance thus further isolating the party.

It doesn't mean that because the LP voted to remove de Venecia from the Speakership, it would automatically equal to LP's alignment to Gloria Arroyo's forces. Here's the formula: LP vote vs. JDV != PGMA

Let's give Speaker Prospero Nograles a chance, and I know that he will be careful on what he does. He would really feel bad if accusations like "he was anointed by Gloria Arroyo to be puppy in the House" would turn out to be true.

Friday, February 8, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 1 comments [ More ]

Sen. Roxas' opening statement during the NBN Project Joint Committee Hearing

First of all, to Mr. Lozada: Welcome, we are all glad that you are safe. For many hours, so many across the nation were worried about your well-being, and we’re glad that you’re here before us.

This is not going to be an inquisition. I see nervousness in your face. Just relax. Like everyone else, we just want to know the truth. We sympathize with you, with the predicament that you’re in. It was a very difficult last several days, weeks or months for you, and perhaps today, which is Constitution Day by the way, today, the truth will set you free.

It is so hard to do the right thing in our country today. And so I congratulate you for trying to do the right thing. I assure you that we here in the Senate will help you do the right thing, whatever that right thing is, and whatever that will mean. So we congratulate you, we applaud you, and we support your efforts to do the right thing.

What has happened to you shows that this broadband deal is not about modernizing the Philippines. It is about lining the pockets of those in power. It is not about serving the Republic, it is about syndicated looting of our Treasury.

How high does this conspiracy go, to silence you?

I agree with former Senator Salonga that the controversy arising from the NBN deal is a quarrel among thieves, and I am not taking any sides in this issue except for the people’s side.

I hate it when functionaries in Malacañang call you a liar, and call senators grandstanders, when Cabinet members themselves are invoking executive privilege to escape the scrutiny of people.

And so I make this appeal to you: Even as we understand your predicament, be certain, be assured, that all we want is the truth. God bless you in today’s hearings.

Roxas demands copy of purported Lozada request for PNP security

Senator Mar Roxas today called on Philippine National Police Director-General Avelino Razon to furnish the Senate with a copy of the purported letter of Rodolfo Lozada, potential witness for the National Broadband Network probe in the Senate, requesting for security upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday.
There is clear conflict between what Lozada’s family is saying and the claims of the PNP,” Roxas, co-chair of the NBN hearings, said.

The only way to clear the air is for the PNP chief to produce the purported letter of Lozada and thereby show that all the actions of his subordinates were and continue to be above board,” he added.
The Liberal Party President also scored NAIA security authorities, headed by retired general Angel Atutubo, for negligence of the highest order in allowing a PNP impostor to enter the airport premises and take custody of Lozada.
PNP Chief Razon has stated to the media that the policeman identified as SPO4 Roger Valeroso, who allegedly took Lozada, is not in the official rolls. Why was he given access to the most sensitive tarmac area without a thorough identity check?” Roxas asked.
He lamented, “This is an absurd situation, considering that the airport is a high security zone where people are subject to identity and baggage checks of the most stringent kind.”

Sen. Roxas' statement on SC Order regarding Neri's arrest

"We will wait for the Supreme Court’s official order that allowed Secretary Romulo Neri his freedom for the meantime. As co-chairman of the joint committee hearing the NBN investigation, I will discuss with my fellow senators on our next step.

"It will be recalled that I, along with Senator Noynoy Aquino, filed with the Supreme Court a separate case to clarify the bounds of executive privilege, which Neri has been hiding under. It is my hope that the tribunal settles this issue at the soonest possible time, so that we can proceed in our investigation.

"However the Supreme Court decides in the end, we still hope for Neri’s voluntary cooperation, for the sake of transparency."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas vows to push for immediate relief thru oil VAT suspension

Senator Mar Roxas vowed to continue the fight for the suspension of the 12% value-added tax (VAT) on petroleum products, even if the administration has repeatedly rejected the said measure, which seeks to bring immediate relief to commuters and consumers.

Ilang beses nang ni-reject at tinanggihan ng gobyerno ang ating simple ngunit kongkretong panukala para tanggalin ang VAT sa langis. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nito na titigil tayo sa pagpupursigi na maipasa ito bilang batas at mabigyan ng agad na ginhawa ang ating mga konsyumer,” he said.

Our simple yet concrete proposal will bring immediate relief worth P4 per liter of diesel and P65 per 11-kilo tank of LPG. If the government does not want to listen to the people’s plight, then we will. We’ll work to pass this as law, and the government will have to follow,” he added.

While recognizing that many of the proposals that resulted from the Energy Summit are good, especially for the long-term, Roxas warned the government against giving any illusion that these would result in immediate relief for the people from all-time high world oil prices.

For instance, he said the counter-proposal of the government to provide a VAT refund to consumers through a “coupon system” might be too complex and thus unresponsive to Juan de la Cruz’ urgent needs.

Do not dangle expectations of immediate relief from these convoluted and untested proposals like this proposed coupon refund system. What the people need are direct and immediate relief, not these tedious measures that may not even achieve intended results,” he told the administration.

The proposals during the Energy Summit are good for the long term, and I would even support some of these, like the Renewable Energy bill, which I’ve long supported. But at the same time, our people need measures for immediate relief, which we seek through the suspension of the VAT on oil,” he added.

The proposal for VAT refund through a “coupon system” was floated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her speech during the concluding rites of the Energy Summit. Said coupon system would be funded by excess revenues from the sale of Transmission Corp. and the National Power Corp., and proceeds from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project.

Roxas urges new Speaker: Heal the House

Senator Mar Roxas urged newly-installed House Speaker Prospero Nograles to seize the moment and shake off embittered partisanship to consolidate the House not behind any interest or faction, but behind the people and their urgent needs. “Let us now stop the conflict of factions and families and get straight to the business of the people without any more bickering,” he said.

I call on the new House Speaker to start healing the wounds of the House so Congress could now speed up on the people’s legislation,” he said.

He cited the Quality Affordable Medicines bill, which has already been approved by the Senate and House, and set for discussions next week by the Bicameral Conference Committee. Roxas earlier said that 80%-90% of the provisions of the Senate and House versions could easily be reconciled.

Roxas, Liberal Party President, stressed that politicians are in power not for their sake but because the people put them there to look after the people’s interests.
Itong kontes na ito, sa pagitan lamang ito ng mga pulitiko, at hindi naman talaga kasali si Juan dela Cruz dito. Tulad ng mga miting-miting na naganap bago itong paghalal ng bagong Speaker—mga golf sessions man o ‘gulp sessions,’—hindi naman kasali si Juan dela Cruz,” he said.

At the end of the day, regardless of who bangs the gavel in Batasan, the people want to see a Congress that is working for their interests and not the interests of a few,” he stressed.

Roxas: We are ready to pass medicines bill

Senator Mar Roxas affirmed that the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill convening this Wednesday are "ready and willing" to pass the bill soonest, as he allayed fears that the House Speakership row will impede speedy action by the legislature on the urgent health measure.

Roxas also brushed off concerns that contentious provisions in the Senate and House versions would set back the bill's timetable, emphasizing that "80% to 90%" of standing provisions are "easily reconcilable" if all sides set their sights on the common target of public interest.

"The need of Filipinos for quality and affordable medicines is much more urgent than any of our disagreements,” he said.

Roxas lauded the members of the House panel and the proponents of the bill in the lower chamber for working with the Senate in the spirit of common interest as he shot down speculations that the current leadership row in the House will set back the bill's timetable.

We are glad that our counterparts in the House—led by Rep. Antonio Alvarez (House Committee on Trade chairman)—are as gung-ho as we are in having this bill passed. We are not going to be hampered by politics,” he said.

Hindi tungkol sa pulitika ang panukalang batas na ito kundi sa malubhang pangangailangan ni Juan dela Cruz para sa de-kaledad at abot-kayang gamot. Huwag sanang makasagabal ang anumang kaguluhan ngayon sa Kamara sa ating layunging maipasa kaagad ang Affordable Medicines Bill,” he said.

Senate Bill No. 1658 proposes amendments to the Intellectual Property Code to allow parallel importation of affordable medicines from other countries, and to help generics firms to develop quality and affordable generic medicines.

The bill also contains provisions allowing the President to impose drug price ceilings in times of calamity, public health emergencies, events that cause artificial and unreasonable price hikes, the prevalence of illegal price manipulation and whenever prices have risen to unreasonable levels.

The bill also recommends allowing the Bureau of Food and Drugs to retain its operating income to upgrade its facilities and human resources.

The Bicameral Conference Committee will formally meet on Wednesday starting 9:00 a.m. at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City; following a pre-bicam meeting of the Senate and House panels to clean up and focus the agenda.

Sunday, February 3, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: No need for econ stimulus plan, just suspend VAT on oil

Senator Mar Roxas today said there is no compelling need for Congress to consider any economic stimulus plan, as the proposed six-month suspension of the value-added tax (VAT) on oil would be enough to enliven consumer spending and invigorate the economy.

"This is the fair and compassionate approach: for Congress to temporarily lift the VAT on oil in view of abnormally high oil prices that have caused economic difficulties to ordinary Filipinos," Roxas said.

"People are reeling from unusually high fuel prices—from the small fisherman who needs gas for his motorized boat, to the farmer who needs fuel to run the pumps irrigating his farm, to the average household that is now paying three times for a tank of LPG," Roxas lamented.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the suspension of the VAT on oil, as proposed by Roxas, would effectively reduce pump prices by about P4 to P5 per liter, and in the case of LPG, by about P65 per tank.

A number of advisers to Malacañang have proposed an economic stimulus plan that would cost the government an extra P75 billion, to be contained in a supplemental budget, supposedly to cushion the economy from the potential unfavorable impact of an economic downturn in the United States, the Philippines' largest export market and biggest source of foreign direct investments.

Roxas, chairman of the Senate committee on trade and commerce, said his proposal to suspend the VAT on oil, as put forth in Senate Bill 1962, would cost the government only P30 billion in a year, or P15 billion for six months. This is according to the testimony of the Department of Finance in a recent committee hearing on the said bill.

"Our proposal simply means allowing the people to keep an extra P15 billion in their pockets over the next six months: money that otherwise would have gone to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Or worse, to leakages and corruption,” he said.

The people can then spend the P15 billion to cover other forms of personal consumption. And this will have the effect of stimulating the economy, " Roxas concluded.

Someone who cares for the people in need

Senator Mar Roxas, in a visit to the Commonwealth Market, talks to Jaymar, a polio victim, who sought the Senator’s assistance to buy a wheelchair, during the Liberal Party's 62nd Anniversary Celebration held in Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City. The LP opted to celebrate its anniversary with the people, offering them medical and dental services, livelihood training and a jobs fair, and held a town hall meeting to hear the community’s concerns.

Sen. Roxas' statement on the dispersal of students during the Education Summit

“I’m disturbed and aghast by the reportedly violent dispersal of students and teachers who staged a rally at the Education Summit, where some were caught or injured in the process.

Isang kabalintunaan ang pangyayaring ito: ang mga mismong estudyante at guro na mga pangunahing stakeholder ng education system ay sila pang itinaboy at hindi inilahok.

“The summit was held to hear all voices on the education issue, not to stifle them.

Ayaw ba ng pamahalaan na makinig sa mga estudyante at guro mismo ukol sa mga problema ng edukasyon sa ating bansa? May kinatatakutan ba silang malaman mula sa kanila?

“The organizers of the Summit and the police must explain why this happened, and why these students and teachers were, as they were complaining, not included in the Summit.”

Saturday, February 2, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: $500M RP bond offer aggravates OFW plight

Senator Mar Roxas today cautioned government fiscal managers regarding the recent floatation of $500 million in sovereign bonds, saying this aggravates the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers and exporters in light of the strengthening peso versus the dollar.

He called on the government to exercise greater prudence in foreign borrowings and to look more carefully into the effect of such moves on the peso-dollar exchange rate, and consequently, on OFWs, exporters, business process outsourcing and the tourism industry.

We are shooting ourselves on the foot by bringing in more dollars into the system, which is already flooded by dollars,” he said.

We are no longer in ‘fiscal crisis’ mode and local interest rates are at an all time low; why do we still have to borrow in dollars?” he asked.

Roxas earlier proposed that in order to help OFWs and other dollar-earners—who are now earning 20% less in pesos compared to the previous year—the government should instead borrow in pesos than in dollars to roll-over or amortize its existing debt.

The Finance department responded by announcing that it would increase peso borrowings by P20 billion and decrease foreign borrowings by the same amount, which Roxas described as “not enough.”

Kung ang remittances ng ating 8 bilyong OFW kada taon ay $12 bilyon, $1,500 ang tinatanggap ng bawat OFW. Kung noong nakaraang taon ay P76,500 ang tinatanggap at ginagastos ng mga pamilyang may OFW, ngayon ay P61,500 na lang ito, bawas ng P15,000 na maaaring ipambayad sa matrikula ng isang anak o ng kuryente sa isang buong taon,” he stressed.

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