We need your help for the Cheaper Medicines online petition

In behalf of Carlo Ople (the author of the online petition for cheaper medicines) and to all of our fellow citizens who acted on our call to sign the online petition for cheaper medicines in the Philippines, we thank you for joining the call in urging the Congress to immediately pass the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill principally authored by Senator Mar Roxas. As of 3:21 PM April 30, 2008, the online petition was already endorsed by 245 citizens wanting to see this bill enacted into law on or before Labor Day (Thursday, May 1, 2008).

The more people sign the petition, the more powerful our call will be -- please forward this link to friends if you haven't already:



It's time to make this one possible! We have been waiting for this moment and it's long ovedue. If the doomsayers would try to block this landmark measure just because it would damage their self-interests, millions of ailing Filipinos would continue to suffer from expensive medicines. As we say, "together, all things are possible."

It's time to realize that it's unacceptable for someone to die just because his/her family can't buy the required medications.

It's time to act! We need to echo our voices to the Congress not to derail the passage of this bill -- will you join us?



For those who already signed the online petition on cheaper medicines, please do tell me thru making a comment on this post. Thank you for everything you've done!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Solon warns public about alleged multi-million PR effort to discredit medicines law

Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya (1st District, Cavite) warned the public not to fall into the web of deceit and desperate hysterics being spun by doomsayers in Congress about the cheaper medicines bill.

"I have received reports that there is a multi-million PR slush fund to discredit the bill and its key authors," Abaya said, adding that this may also be tied to the 2010 elections. Sen. Mar Roxas, the principal author of the medicines bill, is considered among the frontrunners in the presidential race in 2010.
Abaya, one of the co-authors of the House bill, expressed his full support to the joint efforts of House trade and commerce chair Antonio Alvarez and his Senate counterpart, Senator Mar Roxas in consolidating both versions of the bill.

"Millions of ailing Filipinos have much to lose if this urgent health bill is delayed further or derailed permanently. In the 13th Congress, the House failed to pass this measure due to lack of quorum. Today, some legislators are out to discredit this measure and its proponents by saying that it is "watered-down". The truth is that people with vested interests are scared that the medicines law would actually work and thus lead to drastic cuts in the earnings of pharmaceutical companies," Abaya added.

"On the contrary, precisely because their recommendations were ignored, we now have a stronger, more cohesive bill," Abaya stressed.
The congressman from Cavite noted that the generics-only provision was dropped upon the request of the President with the Senate agreeing to consider this as part of a separate bill. The House provision creating a drug price regulatory board was replaced by a new provision that would grant price regulatory powers to the Secretary of Health who would in turn make his recommendation to the President.

"The Secretary of Health is in a better position to review drug prices compared to a board composed of political appointees without sufficient backgrounds about medicines and prices," Abaya added.
The LP stalwart pressed for the bill’s passage by May 1. "This is our collective gift to the people on Labor Day and we should not allow people with vested interests to succeed in blocking this bill."

Support the Cheaper Medicines Bill! Sign the Petition!

Show your support to Senator Mar Roxas' Quality Affordable Medicine Bill. We have been waiting for so long to have quality affordable medicine. The time is now! ORAS NA!

The bill has long been delayed in the halls of Congress. Now, the time has come to make this dream come true. After all, our hopes for cheaper medicines will now be realized. Let's thanks all the prime movers of the measure especially our beloved Senator Mar Roxas, the strongest contender for the 2010 Presidential elections.

Don't forget to tell your family, friends and relatives about the petition. Help us spread the word!

I would like to thank Carlo Ople for creating the online petition!

Sunday, April 27, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Self-sufficiency key to solving rice crisis

Senator Mar Roxas, who arrived in Lucena, Quezon this morning, said rice self-sufficiency was the key in dealing with the rice crisis that has hit the country and has brought up prices by as much as P8 in the past two months.
Kung dito pa lang sa atin, self-sufficient tayo sa ating pangangailangan ng bigas, hindi na tayo maaapektuhan sa kahit anong presyo o supply sa pandaigdigang merkado,” Roxas said.
Nasa irigasyon, nasa suporta sa magsasaka para makabili ng tamang fertilizer at pesticide ang solusyon, na sa ganoon ang pangkaraniwang ani ay maitaas natin, mula 2.5 na tonelada bawat hektarya sa ngayon, hanggang sa pinakamaganda talaga na anim na tonelada bawat hektarya,” he added.
The senator participated in a dialogue with marketgoers at the Lucena City Public Market in the morning, after which he attended a town hall meeting in the Provincial Capitol upon the invitation of Quezon Gov. Raffy Nantes. Also present were Quezon Vice-Governor Kelly Portes, Quezon 2nd Dist. Rep. Procy Alcala, as well as various mayors, vice-mayors, councilors and barangay captains, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) for the environment, social services, rural development, health, and women and children protection.

After the consultation, the local leaders led by Gov. Nantes, signed and presented provincial resolutions to the senator declaring their full support for his bills calling for the suspension of the value-added tax (VAT) on oil products and a tax exemption for minimum wagers, as well as the immediate passage of the proposed Quality Affordable Medicines Act.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, congratulated Gov. Nantes, a fellow Liberal, for his responsiveness in dealing with the situation. “Maganda talaga ang ekonomiya rito sa Quezon. May balanced spending, at focused spending – hindi patingi-tingi ang pagpondo sa mga importanteng programa at proyekto. Maraming pera sa bulsa ng mga mamamayan dahil sa masasaganang ani,” he said.

Roxas said the national government should follow Quezon’s example, for self-sufficiency and productivity to occur on a wider scale. “Una sa lahat, kailangang harapin ng gobyerno ang problema. Ano ba ang problema? Ang kakulangan ng supply ng bigas dito sa atin. Dapat nang kumilos at mag-focus ang paggastos para hindi na tayo aasa sa mga imported na bigas,” he said.

He noted that even though the government has spent billions annually on rice production, this has not been done in the most efficient manner. “Bagamat may badyet para sa National Irrigation Administration, National Food Authority, Department of Agriculture at iba pang ahensya, taon-taon ay nag-aangkat pa rin ng 2 milyon toneladang bigas, dahil kulang talaga ang produksyon dito,” he said.

Mas mabuti na ang ating mga magsasaka ang maikikinabang sa pagbili ng bigas, kaysa sa ibigay ang pera na ito sa mga magsasaka at exporter ng Thailand at Vietnam,” he added.

Roxas: Now the real work begins

Given the assured passage of the Quality Affordable Medicines Act on or before Labor Day, Senator Mar Roxas, principal sponsor and author of the bill, challenged the executive branch to come up with a concrete action plan for its effective implementation.

I thank House Speaker Prospero Nograles and the House panel headed by Palawan Rep. Tony Alvarez for agreeing to deal with the issue of ‘generics-only’ prescriptions in a separate bill. The Quality Affordable Medicines bill can now become a law, with no hurdles left to its passage,” said Roxas, co-chair of the bicameral panel for the bill.

With our decade-long struggle to turn this into law over, we can now focus our energies on a concrete national action plan to bring medicine prices down,” he added.

Roxas, during his time as Trade Secretary in 2000, was a main proponent for amendments to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which allowed for concessions to developing countries such as the easing of patent restrictions, a major aspect of the Quality Affordable Medicines bill. The measure had already been passed by the Senate in the 13th Congress, but a quorum problem in the House prevented its enactment then.

The senator proposed a P1-Billion Special Fund to purchase quality drugs from India as a way to jumpstart the implementation of the forthcoming landmark law. He cited the growing number of Filipinos suffering from hypertension and diabetes as examples of specific ailments that require expensive daily maintenance medicines.

Parallel importation of life-saving medicines would benefit millions of ailing Filipinos. This is one way of giving back to the people what the government collects by way of taxes,” he said.

Roxas pushed for amendments to the Intellectual Property Code which seek to allow the parallel importation of locally patented drugs and to allow generic manufacturers to test, register, produce patented drugs prior to patent expiry, among others.

With the present condition of high prices, poor families are forced to choose between medicines and food. We need to push for the effective implementation of this law to enable them to save money and maintain good health by bringing in more affordable medicines,” Roxas said.

The Liberal Party President urged the Department of Health to lay the groundwork for an Affordable Medicines Summit participated by local and national government officials, the business sector and other stakeholders.

It is our duty as lawmakers to oversee the executive’s actions, to ensure that our new law is taken full advantage of and that its noble intentions are actually felt by the public,” Roxas said.

The Quality Affordable Medicines Act will also strengthen the Bureau of Food and Drugs to serve as a counterfoil to attempts to bring in fake or substandard medicines by allowing BFAD to retain its operating income from fees and other charges so it could upgrade its facilities and beef up its human resources.

The measure also allows for the imposition of price regulation of medicines, as an option in case the free market by itself is unable to bring down prices. This would be implemented by the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health. An initial P25-million appropriation is also set for such implementation.

The trashVin takes a peek on the Mar Roxas 2010 Blog!

As I was surfing my Sitemeter Stats, I observed that this blog was linked to http://trashvin.blogspot.com by Marvin Trilles

I visited the site and saw his blog post entitled "Presidential Campaign for 2010 Invades the Web" and read it.

Here's an excerpt of his blog post:
Using the web as one of the primary channel for political campaigns is becoming a trend. Look at how the US presidential race has been gaining a lot of attention primarily because it is in the internet. Call it web-hype of some sort.

Just tonight, I stumbled upon a blogger site purposely created by a teen blogger to somewhat persuade Mar Roxas to run for presidency this 2010. Honestly, it is my first time to see a blog site with political campaign motive behind.

I find it entertaining at some point yet informative on the other. Entertaining in the sense that it contains all the political gimmicks that can be possible to implement in the "webosphere". Taking the Roxas site for example, it comes loaded with wittily created jingles that plays in the background. It also contains songs that can be related to the candidate. In Roxas' site, the song ranges from the famous Mr. Palengke song (a rip off of Parokya ni Edgars' Mr. Suave) to a more serious Umagang Kay Ganda.


Roxas to hold dialogues on rice situation in Quezon

Senator Mar Roxas will be at Lucena, Quezon on Thursday, April 24, to get updates and to determine the "best practices" in handling the rice situation, in order to ensure the continued availability of rice at affordable levels both in the province and nationwide.

"I want to discuss with local officials, including my fellow Liberal, Gov. Raffy Nantes, how they have managed to remain responsive to the rice situation even as the rest of the nation is struggling to do so. Quezon's best practices will help us national leaders provide for the needs of other local governments," Roxas, the Liberal Party President, said.

"Every province would have its own specific and unique concerns even on issues of a national scope, such as the impending food crisis. With the help of all, we will be able to ensure food security for the long-term. I also want to hear what their constituents' concerns are in terms of the production and distribution of rice and other commodities," he added.
Gov. Nantes invited Roxas as a special guest in a public consultation on Thursday morning with local leaders and stakeholders on national issues such as the continued rise in the prices of rice and oil to record levels. The forum will be held at the Bulwagang Kalilayan at the Provincial Capitol Compound in Lucena City.

Another issue to be dealt with is the Quality Affordable Medicines bill, which is nearing passage at Congress. The committee composed of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, are set to meet tomorrow to finalize the bill, which Roxas said is already "99% complete."

"Once this bill to lower the prices of medicines is passed, the real work begins. I urge the national government to coordinate closely with local governments to bring the benefits of the measure to all," he said, adding that he would initiate the holding of conferences across the nation on the merits of the proposed law and how to best implement its provisions.
Roxas will also attend the graduation ceremonies of Southern Luzon State University as guest of honor, on Thursday noon at the Quezon Convention Center, also in Lucena.

Roxas: Gov't stonewall on oil VAT suspension "unjust, oppressive"

With crude oil prices continuing to break records, Senator Mar Roxas renewed his call for the suspension of the value-added tax (VAT) on oil and petroleum products to curb domestic price shocks that have begun to hurt consumers.

"Oras na para i-suspinde ang VAT sa langis, para bigyan ng ginhawa ang mga mamimili sa panahong pataas nang pataas ang presyo ng bilihin (it's time to suspend the VAT on oil to give consumers relief at a time when prices of goods continue to increase)," he said.

"For the government to continue charging a 12% VAT on oil at this time is simply unjust. For the government to continue making the people shoulder what should otherwise be collected from big-time tax evaders and smugglers is simply oppressive," he stressed.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce said the world price of crude oil has already broken the $115-a-barrel mark due to increased demand from newly-industrialized countries and diminished production from oil exporters. Furthermore, local pump prices of diesel, gasoline and kerosene have increased seven times already since the start of the year.
"Still, the administration continues to stonewall on this issue, and other similar proposals to remove, suspend or lower VAT on other commodities. It would rather keep its revenues than ensure relief for consumers," he said.

"It only takes political will on the part of the administration to move its allies in the House to pass the proposed suspension of VAT on oil. After all, the people need their money in their pockets more today than the government needs its windfalls," he stressed.

"Any further delay or dilly-dallying from the administration to suspend the VAT on oil will be hard to justify," he stressed.
As per DOE data, the prevailing price of diesel is now at P40.44/L; gasoline at P47.46/L; kerosene at P43.02/L; and LPG at P566.14 per 11-kg tank. The temporary removal of the 12% VAT on oil would result in savings of P4.33 per liter of diesel, P5.09 per liter of gasoline, P4.61 per liter of kerosene and almost P61 per 11-kilogram tank of LPG.

Roxas filed Senate Bill 1962 seeking to suspend the VAT for a period of six months, and a similar bill was filed by Liberal Party stalwart Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya in the House. The Senate Ways and Means committee has already held hearings on the Roxas bill but could not undertake any further action because according to the Constitution, all tax measures must emanate from the House.

Roxas optimistic about medicines bicam meeting on Wednesday

Senator Mar Roxas foresees no major impediments to the approval of the affordable medicines law this week unless some congressmen maintain a hard-line stance for the inclusion of the generics-only provision.

Roxas, principal author of the proposed Quality Affordable Medicines Act in the Senate and co-chair of the bicameral conference committee on the bill, said both panels will meet on Wednesday to thresh out the final version of the much-awaited measure.

"I am optimistic that an agreement will be reached by Wednesday because we all share the view that this is an urgent, life-saving measure. Hopefully, the House contingent shall have decided to follow the President's advice for them to convert the generics-only provision into a separate bill," he added.

The President of the Liberal Party said both panels will study the recommendations of the technical working group that was formed to consolidate the Senate and House versions of the medicines bill.

Meanwhile, Senator Roxas urged the Department of Health to start working on an action plan to ensure the effective implementation of the Quality Affordable Medicines Act.

The bicameral committee had earlier agreed in the previous meeting that a price regulatory mechanism should be available to the government in case the free market itself is unable to bring down the prices of medicines. The price regulation would be implemented by the President upon recommendation of the Secretary of Health.

"Millions of Filipinos suffering from life-long ailments such as diabetes and hypertension can be the immediate beneficiaries of the Affordable Medicines Law," Roxas pointed out.

The senator noted that medicines for hypertension and diabetes sold locally are many times the cost of their counterparts in other countries such as India. "The same brand, same packaging, and the same formulation of drugs for diabetes and hypertension are sold for far less in other countries. Why should our people continue to suffer from high blood and high prices of medicines when we can stimulate competition by bringing in these cheaper, quality medicines from abroad?"

Roxas described the affordable medicines act as a "legal toolbox to prolong people's lives."

"All the tools to help the executive bring in quality affordable medicines and promote better competition in the pharmaceutical and retail industry are in this measure. This is why I am reiterating my call to our colleagues in the House of Representatives to heed the President's and our people's call for the immediate passage of this important bill," Roxas stressed.

Roxas to gov't: Intercept rice diversion at the large scale, not 'tingi' level

Senator Mar Roxas said the government must focus its efforts to curb diversion of imported rice at the scale of large shipments, not in the markets, to ensure that the staple actually reaches the poorest of the poor who need it the most.
"Ang mga malalaking diversion ay nangyayari hindi sa palengke, ngunit sa pagpasok ng mga barko, pagdala ng bigas sa mga warehouse. The real diversion happens by the shipload and truckload, not just by the sack," Roxas said.

"Kailangang makita natin ang dinadaanan ng bigas mula sa pagpasok pa lang sa bansa. Itong mga raid-raid na ito ay pakitang tao lamang, o isang patingi-tinging solusyon," the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce added.
Roxas said he had already written Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap last April 10, asking for the following information:

1. The total volume of rice importation for 2008 including the list of importers and originating countries of these imports;

2. The pricing or cost of these imports per volume, for each source;

3. The schedule of each shipment, the type of cargo or vessels for these and their maximum tonnage, and the actual volume to be imported per shipment;

4. Drop-off points or ports for these shipments; and

5. A copy of the latest Rice Importation Contract with Vietnam.
"We are still awaiting Secretary Yap's response, which would shed light on how rice intended for the poorest of the poor is instead used for commercial purposes. With this knowledge, our authorities can better track down unscrupulous elements taking advantage of the dire situation," Roxas said.
He stressed however that urgent action was also needed with regard to domestic production of rice, in order to reduce dependence on imported grains.

He proposed the following to ensure a bountiful harvest, which would prevent the problem from recurring next year:

1. Strict enforcement of a moratorium on conversions of irrigated land, and an investigation on how much the government has spent on irrigation for these converted lands;

2. Ensuring that all of the inputs necessary—seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, among others—are made available to farmers;

3. Developing "small water impounding" irrigation systems, which cost only about P30,000 per hectare, versus large-scale irrigation through dams which costs P100,000 per hectare.

4. Opening up the Agusan river basin areas for planting, as these are ideal for planting rice; and

5. Investing in eliminating wastage in the drying of rice, estimated at 30% of annual consumption, which is more than enough to cover the NFA's importation of 2 million MT of rice or 17% of annual consumption.

Roxas also noted how the population increased by 16%, from 75.50 million in May 2000, to 88.57 million as of August 2007, and warned that the projected population by 2009 of 92.22 million would mean nearly 4 million more consumers in two years' time.
"Now that the government knows it has more mouths to feed, it must be more focused in ensuring food security by boosting domestic production. We can no longer rely on importing for rice, because excess supply from abroad is hard to come by, and at great cost," Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, said.

"We can’t say that our domestic production for rice has increased likewise. In fact, we are importing over 2 million metric tons this year, above the 1.2 million MT we had been importing in previous years," he added.

Saturday, April 19, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Sen. Mar Roxas' message for Dagupan City's Bangus Festival 2008

My warmest greetings to Dagupan City as you celebrate your 7th Annual Bangus Festival this April of 2008 with the theme, "One Voice, One Vision, United Action."

For seven years, you have gathered as a people, strengthening bonds and recollecting your experiences year round through this annual festival. Inevitably, you have faced challenges requiring you to summon energies needed in a modernized and competitive atmosphere.

It is high time for us to elevate our aspirations. We can do better in our tasks if we prioritize our education and applying what we learn in our chosen professions. Through an active and educated citizenry, a progressive future is possible.

Make this event an opportunity to deepen connections with each other, informing your local leaders of your needs, while maintaining intact relationships with your families.

I am positive that all your actions will contribute to our country's growth.

To the people of Dagupan, my congratulations and best wishes on your fiesta.

Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Hon. Mar Roxas

Thursday, April 17, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas: Focus on plentiful domestic harvest, not 'pakitang-tao'

Senator Mar Roxas called on the executive to provide clear solutions to address the insufficient domestic production of rice, rather than be focused merely on political considerations which do not provide any real help to the people.

"The government is on the wrong track in adopting the tingi approach to our rice problem. This is a production and supply problem, and so, we must address its root causes and not just the symptoms. Ang problema natin, kulang ang bigas, kaya dapat ang focus natin ay sa pag-siguro na na may sapat na ani," he said.

"The government's response is politically influenced. I see summits and lots of photo-ops, but I don't see substantive programs. It's unfortunate that the government activities are a-la-police—the NBI will raid, the military will distribute—but I have not seen much in how we can produce more rice," he added.

Roxas also warned the administration not to issue rice access cards unless there is a competent system in place and clear guidelines to be followed by local officials and the National Food Authority, to avoid confusion and politicizing the process.

"If we have a rice rationing system, politicians will now say 'yung mga kakampi ko, magkaka-bigas.' Whenever there is shortage or rationing, you now introduce the element of subjective choice, or who-gets-what. Mahirap iyan," he said, explaining that this could lead to more confusion and could trigger food riots and demonstrations.

"Instead, I recommend an expansion of the Food-for-Work program where poor families are harnessed to help in their communities, in exchange for a stable supply of food," the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade added.

The Liberal Party President said to ensure plentiful domestic harvest, he proposed:

  1. All conversions of irrigated land should be stopped, and investigate how much has the government spent on irrigation for these converted lands;
  2. Ensure that all of the inputs necessary—seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, among others—must be made available to farmers;
  3. Consider the development of 'small water impounding' irrigation systems, which costs only about P30,000 per hectare, versus large-scale irrigation through dams which costs P100,000 per hectare;
  4. Open up the Agusan and Lanao marsh areas for planting, as these are ideal for planting rice, similar to the Vietnamese river delta basin;
  5. Invest in eliminating wastage in the drying of rice, estimated at 30% of annual consumption, and more than enough to cover the NFA's importation of 2 million MT of rice or 17% of annual consumption.

He noted that aside from the planned issuance of rice vouchers, the administration had already floated a hodge-podge of stopgap solutions, including:

  1. Limiting how much NFA rice an individual may buy;
  2. Using of indelible ink to discourage returning buyers;
  3. Calling on consumers to eat brown rice;
  4. Calling on fast-food chains to offer half-cup rice;
  5. Linking up with Churches and LGUs, and even deputizing soldiers, to help in distributing cheaper varieties of NFA rice;
  6. Threats of raids on warehouses even if there are no clear guidelines yet.

He noted that the government has embarked or at least floated these solutions, even as it denies that a rice supply crisis does not exist.

"Kaya nga dapat magpakatotoo ang gobyerno at aminin ang problema sasambayanan para sama-sama tayong lahat sa paghanap ng pinakamagandang paraan at solusyon sa krisis na ito," he added.

The senator noted that rice-exporting countries have already announced its plans to curb medium-grade rice exports to protect their own respective domestic supplies.

"This makes our call for an emergency ASEAN Leaders' Summit on the rice crisis even more urgent. We can then appeal to our rice exporting neighbors to give priority to fellow ASEAN members in the allocation of exported rice," Roxas said.

"Now, the surplus is gone, the old standby—'never mind, we can always import'—is no longer available. This is not just a slogan of 'food security,' we must now produce our own rice," he said.

Roxas files Food Transparency Bill

Senator Mar Roxas today filed Senate Bill 2161 seeking transparency in all government transactions involving food and basic commodities, especially rice and corn.

He said part of the people’s basic right of access to adequate and affordable food is giving full access to information on the same, including supply, production and imports, prices, and other factors and risks.
It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that there is food for all. In relation to this, it must let the people know at all times about the state of food in the country,” the Chairman of the Senate Trade and Commerce Committee said.

The best deterrence to collusion, profiteering and other abuses by government or private persons is transparency,” he added.

Mahalaga ang impormasyong ito, dahil ito ang tutulong sa mga pamilya sa pagba-budget ng kanilang pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan, o tutulong sa gobyerno mismo para supilin ang mga pang-aabuso sa merkado (This information is important to help families in budgeting their daily needs, and to help the government against abuses in the market),” he stressed.
Roxas, Liberal Party President, said this bill will help institute good governance in all government actions and transactions in relation to food and basic commodities, and would also help the government in targeting food distribution and soliciting private sector help in improving food security.
Nasa interes ng bawat Pilipino ang pagkain, at hindi dapat nasasaklaw ng executive privilege ang impormasyon ukol dito. (Food is in the interest of every Filipino, and any information about it should not be subject to executive privilege,” he added.
Senate Bill No. 2161, the proposed “Affordable Food Transparency Act,” mandates the publication by DA of all rice, corn and sugar import permits, including: names and addresses of importers and suppliers; countries of origin; dates of contract and arrival of imports and other specifications; contract price and modes of purchase; among others.

It also requires the dissemination of any and all significant information that affect food supply and prices, through print and electronic publication. It also mandates the disclosure of any information about the existence of a factor or risk to food security.

It also requires pertinent government agencies, particularly the DA and DTI and their sub-units, to comply with written requests for any information, records or documents within two working days, under pain of penalty.

The bill also allows every denial of any request, in whole or in part, due to reasons of privacy, national security, diplomatic relations, trade secrets and others, to be appealed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Statement of Senator Mar Roxas on proposals for Emergency Powers

“At this point, such proposals of emergency powers for the President are premature and counter-productive, leading to more confusion and panic. What we need is a clear plan guided by cold facts and clear criteria. What is the real supply and demand situation at present? Does it call for emergency measures, or just more aggressive law enforcement, diplomacy, distribution targeting and logistical management.”

”What is our contingency status? Are we on condition yellow? Orange? Red? Ironically, the admin keeps stressing that there's no crisis while the queues get longer everyday. What we need now is for the government to tell the people the real score, and walk them through a credible plan to deal with an escalating crisis, stage by stage. Transparency, political will and a good plan will carry the day.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | posted in , , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill Primer is now up!

The Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill Primer is now up in the blog! The primer entitled "Abot-Kayang Gamot para sa mga Pilipino - Isang Primer sa Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill" (Affordable Medicines for the Filipino - A Primer of Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill) talks about the status quo of the medicine industry in the Philippines and why the medicines in the country are more expensive compared to the medicines in India. It also informs the reader about the solutions that the Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill will lay down as it would be enacted into law to bring down the cost of medicines here in the country.

Let's support Senator Mar Roxas in his crusade to make the medicines in the country affordable to the entire populace. Be sure to forward this Quality-Affordable Medicines Bill Primer to your family and friends!

This primer was brought to you by the Mar Roxas for President in 2010 Blog in cooperation with the Office of Senator Mar Roxas.

Monday, April 14, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

The "brave" Mr. Anonymous will report me and Sen. Mar Roxas to COMELEC

After I made a post entitled Brian Gorrell vs. DJ Montano blogging and Mar Roxas for President blogging, a "brave" person who is hiding in anonymity told me that I and Sen. Mar Roxas will be reported to the COMELEC this Monday. That's April 14, 2008.

Hmp! This is quite funny! Mr. Anonymous will go to COMELEC and sue us? Then, why should he/she hide his/her name? I am not related with Senator Mar Roxas in any way and I am not being paid to blog about him. I only do it myself and I'm telling that here, in this blog, over and over again.

I am not also exploiting the Brian Gorrell issue to promote my blog. I was only blogging about my own perspective on the blog usage of Mr. Gorrell to expose the alleged wrongdoings of DJ Montano on him and my blogging activity about Mar Roxas for President in 2010. Blogging nowadays has a big impact on the Philippine society since the Hello Garci controversy. After all, this is MY BLOG and not of Senator Mar Roxas nor anyone related to him! Not even his fellow Liberal Party colleagues.

About my English grammar, forgive me for disappointing you especially those who are really fluent English speakers. They may find that I have a "poor English grammar". I realize that they really have high expectations on the blogger because this is not an ordinary blog and the blogger should be very fluent on English. If Bisaya was the lingua franca, I think I would have been comfortable. But I'll do my best!

Not all anonymous people are rude. Thanks a lot to the anonymous person who informed me that when you use the word "discuss" don't use "about." I had already edited my post. This is just a proof that I blog on my own and no one tells me what to do, no one pays me big bucks, no one proofreads my post expect me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 2 comments [ More ]

Brian Gorrell vs. DJ Montano blogging and Mar Roxas for President blogging

Brian Gorrell just hit the spotlight when he exposed that DJ Montano allegedly swindeled him US$ 70,000! Until now, I can't still say if I would believe Brian or DJ even though I had already read Brian's blog and saw DJ's interview with Korina Sanchez in ANC's Korina Today.

Earlier, Ms. Sanchez discussed the dangers of blogging together with experts on different fields of law, blogging and etc. before DJ Montano's interview and I realized that on the other perspective, my blogging about Mar Roxas for President in 2010 might be a challenge for the Philippines' election laws as to Brian's blogging against DJ Montano a challenge to Philippines' and Australia's libel and information technology laws.

I once asked myself last year about the legality of what I am doing and if blogging about Mar Roxas for President in 2010 would turn out to be a future legal challenge on me. I am not a lawyer, but I had aspired to be one, and as I had reviewed the 2 Philippine election laws namely the Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 also known as the "Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines" and Republic Act No. 9006 also known as "The Fair Election Act", I'm safe!

In the "Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines", Article X, Sec. 79 (b) states that:

(b) The term "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" refers to an act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office which shall include:

(1) Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate;

(2) Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate;

(3) Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office;

(4) Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; or

(5) Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a candidate.

The foregoing enumerated acts if performed for the purpose of enhancing the chances of aspirants for nomination for candidacy to a public office by a political party, aggroupment, or coalition of parties shall not be considered as election campaign or partisan election activity.

Public expressions or opinions or discussions of probable issues in a forthcoming election or on attributes of or criticisms against probable candidates proposed to be nominated in a forthcoming political party convention shall not be construed as part of any election campaign or partisan political activity contemplated under this Article.
The "The Fair Election Act" didn't classified blogs nor websites to be as "any broadcast of election propaganda" on its parameters. As stated in Sec. 4.1, only "newspaper, newsletter, news weekly, gazette or magazine advertising, posters, pamphlets, comic books, circulars, handbills, bumper stickers, streamers, simple list of candidates or any published or printed political matter and any broadcast of election propaganda by television or radio for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office."

Furthermore, the conditions enumerated to be part of "election campaign" or "partisan political activity" in the "Omnibus Election Code" is allowed if it is "performed for the purpose of enhancing the chances of aspirants for nomination for candidacy to a public office by a political party, aggroupment, or coalition of parties", it's not considered as an election campaign. It's urging, or in other words "drafting", a person to run for a public position and that's what my blog has been doing.

I didn't violated the 2 elections laws and I'm confident that if ever someone tries to challenge me on the court with regards to my blogging activity, I have a strong argument to defend my case.

But I still need a good advice from a lawyer (or lawyers) and I'm tagging those online lawyers to freely give me guidance and advice on what would be the limits on my blogging. Also, I hope to have their reactions if I had violated election laws with regards to blogging about Mar Roxas for President in 2010.

My parting words, on Brian Gorrell's blogging vs. DJ Montano, good luck and don't just keep posting your thoughts on your blog. I encourage Brian and DJ to lay down your respective arguments on the court. But, as what I had said, it's still a challenge on Philippine and Australian libel and information technology laws to set the parameters to resolve this case.

And once again, as for now, I'm safe! :)

Roxas calls for ASEAN Leaders’ Summit on food security

Senator Mar Roxas, chairman of the Senate trade and commerce committee, called on the Philippine government to take the lead in calling for an ASEAN Leaders’ Summit to address the rice crisis and ensure food security in the region.

In a press release, Roxas announced that he would file a resolution on Monday expressing the sense of the Senate that the Philippines should take the lead in calling for such a special Leaders’ Summit, to ensure food and rice security in the coming months.
ASEAN has in its membership the world’s two biggest rice exporters and the world’s biggest rice importer. The proposed ASEAN Leaders’ Summit has the opportunity to ease the fear and crisis that is gripping both the producing farmers and consumer families across ASEAN and the region. This kind of crisis is exactly why ASEAN exists. ASEAN must address and intervene in this crisis to prove to the world that it can take the lead in the political and economic integration of its member-nations” the former trade secretary said.
The Filipino leader said the proposed ASEAN leaders’ summit could even include non-ASEAN neighbors as such as Japan, South Korea and China for an ASEAN Plus Three Summit as well as multinational financial institutions, which have a critical interest on both the consumer and producer sides of the current crisis.
At the ASEAN Summit in Singapore last year, an ASEAN Charter was adopted. This document would be meaningless if the leaders of ASEAN cannot get together to ensure solidarity against hunger made worse by soaring rice and food prices,” the former trade and commerce secretary explained.
Roxas said the Philippines can invoke a provision in the ASEAN Charter on Summits that allows its leaders to hold a summit to “address emergency situations affecting ASEAN by taking appropriate actions.”

The president of the Liberal Party also quoted from the ASEAN Charter’s preamble that resolved “to ensure sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations and to place the well-being, livelihood and welfare of the peoples at the centre of the ASEAN community building process.”

Roxas: Gov't stoking public emotions by "knee-jerk" moves on rice crisis

Senator Mar Roxas criticized the government for its knee-jerk reactions to the rice crisis that have set off adverse effects on the rest of the food chain and that are stoking the emotions of the people.
It is clear that the government doesn’t know what it is doing. Until now, the administration has not acknowledged that we do have a rice crisis which affects Filipino families across the nation,” he said, adding that the prices of oil, rice and other food commodities are all inter-connected.
Philippine bakers have recently announced they will hike pan de sal prices by P0.50 centavos each. This, as the price of wheat—which is not being produced locally—has increased steeply in the world market.
Hindi lang presyo ng pandesal ang tataas kung hindi pati ang palaman sa pandesal dahil sa kabuuan, ang presyo ng pagkain at langis sa daigdigang merkado ay pataas din ng pataas,” Roxas explained.

In normal times, the workingman’s breakfast is a choice between pan de sal or a bowl of lugaw in a nearby market. But now he is caught in a rut, because both items have become more expensive,” he said.
Roxas added that prices of processed and canned meats would also go up due to several factors, such as tighter quantitative restrictions on imported meat, increasing prices of locally-produced meat and of tin cans as well as higher transport costs due to soaring oil prices. Prices of meat are also affected by the decreasing supply and increasing costs of feeds, such as wheat and corn.
At the same time, the government is inviting public indignation by randomly announcing raw ideas without prior consultations with the sectors who are concerned and affected,” he said.

President Arroyo has to take charge, be open to the people and gather the whole national team together to bear upon this multi-faced challenge,” he said.
The senator lamented the administration’s preoccupation with deceptive visuals – only a few lining up for cheap rice, stacks of rice in NFA warehouses, repacking of rice into smaller bags, the use of indelible ink, and soldiers as distributors of rice stocks—that only aggravate public anxieties instead of allaying them.
Magpakatotoo tayo. Due to the high commercial prices of rice, the NFA’s limited supply of cheaper varieties of rice will never be enough to feed our hungry population,” Roxas said.
The president of the Liberal Party said the government can heed the people’s call for immediate relief by suspending the 12% VAT on oil and petroleum products.

Statement of Senator Mar Roxas on Senate's motion for reconsideration re: Neri Case

“I support the Senate’s move to file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court. It is the best means to clarify the true intent of the high tribunal in ruling in favor of the President in the Neri case.

“However, I stand by my view that the Senate should have considered the earlier compromise proposal of Chief Justice Puno. It was a missed opportunity to ask Secretary Neri more questions other than the first three that were already deemed sub judice.

“The effect of this ruling will undoubtedly reveal itself as the Senate initiates hearings on other alleged anomalies such as the so-called ‘swine scam’ and South Rail project.”

Transcript of interview with Senator Mar Roxas on DZMM’s ‘Dos por dos’

On the possibility of a Supreme Court reversal in the Neri case:

MAR: Palagay ko mahirap nang palitan pa nila yung kanilang desisyon. Ibig sabihin na dalawa o tatlo ang magbabago ng isip. Iyon ang dahilan kung bakit noong simula pa ay talagang masugid nating minungkahi na yung maganda sana ay yung ‘compromise’ na kung saan inutusan ng Korte Suprema si Neri na humarap doon sa Senado at matatanong namin siya ng isanlibo o dalawanlibong katanungan bukod lamang doon sa tatlong subjudice. Ang sabi ng Korte Suprema noon na itong tatlong katanungang ito ay subjudice na, ‘nandito na sa amin so bigyan niyo kami ng respeto na madedisisyunan namin ito. Samantala, kung may gusto pa kayong tanungin sa kanya e tanungin niyo na siya at ng sa ganoon mahuhusgahan namin yung konsepto ng executive privilege hindi lamang batay dito sa limitadong tatlong katanungan pero kasama na lahat pa ng iba pang sasabihin ni Sec. Neri executive privilege.

Q: Saka ang tingin po ng iba diyan eh parang binigyan na kayo ng tip o cue ni Chief Justice Puno na ganito ang magiging desisyon nito.

MAR: In fact, kung titingnan nyo ngayon yung desisyon na inilabas ng Korte Suprema, yung dalawa o tatlo doon sa dissenting opinion, doon sa minority sa Korte Suprema, sila yung mga tumulak nitong compromise na ito. Siguro basa na nila yung botohan sa loob kaya sinabi nila para mabigyan ng pagkakataon na matanong si Neri, ‘tanggapin niyo na ito.’

Q: So, ibig nyong sabihin Senator Mar, nagkamali o nagkulang ang Senado doon sa pagharap sa problema?

MAR: Well, mahirap na mag finger pointing, pero ang alam ko lang yung posisyon ko noon ay tanggapin natin ito. Siguro ang bawat isa naman ay maaaring magpaliwanag sa kanilang desisyon.

Q: Yung compromise na inaalok ni Chief Justice Puno ay mukhang higit na masasapol doon ay ang Malacañang.

MAR: Actually, yung nasapol ang paghahanap natin sa katotohanan. Iyon ang parang one step back, three steps forward. Biro mo si Neri mauutusan na humarap doon at sumagot sa kahit ano pang itatanong namin. Sa ngayon, hindi na haharap si Neri at parang nawalan pa kami ng kapangyarihan na ipaaresto siya. Parang toothless na yung pag-iimbita dito sa mga guest natin.

Q: Sinasabi ninyo na parang malabo, mahihirapan ang motion for reconsideration. Ano ho ang pinakamagandang gawin ngayon?

MAR: Una, yung mga bahagi ng hearing na mukhang malinaw na ang larawan katulad doon sa abduction ni Jun Lozada, ay maaari nang tapusin at isulat na ung bahagi na iyon. Dito naman sa ZTE proper, yung kontrata mismo, palagay ko masasabi na rin natin na talagang bumaligtad ang NEDA magmula noong Oktubre 2006, na sabi nila dapat hindi gov’t guarantee, dapat hindi utang, dapat BOT, dapat private sector. Sa loob ng tatlo o apat na buwan ay nabaligtad lahat ito. Iyon ay malinaw na malinaw din. Yung pagka-overprice nito, yung testimonya nung tatlo o apat na mga witness ay nasa record na rin lang at masasabi natin na mula sa private sector ay makakakuha pa tayo ng iba pang mga valuation na magpapatunay na talagang sobrang mahal ito.

On the food crisis:

MAR: Dito sa larangan ng pagkain matagal na nating sinasabi na may problema tayo ang problema dito sa atin ay imbes na hinarap ng ehekutibo, imbes na hinarap ng Malacañang na talaga namang may problema tayo either sa supply o kaya sa pagtaas ng presyo, ano sinagot nila? Nag-grand standing lang yang mga iyan. ‘Wala talaga tayong problema pero tataas ang presyo.’ E kaya hindi maintindihan ni Juan dela Cruz yung kalagayan natin ngayon kasi hindi tayo nagpapakatotoo. Ano ba talaga? Noong tayo ay DTI [Secretary] ang bigas ay nasa 20 hanggang 22 pesos lang eh ngayon ay pumapatak na 28 hanggang 30 pesos. Bakit, kung wala namang shortage, bakit tumataas iyon? Inaamin ba ng ehekutibo may price manipulation? Inaamin ba nila na wala silang magawa sa hoarding? Inaamin ba nila na policy talaga nila na pamahalin ang presyo ng bigas? Kung wala tayong shortage, hahayaang tumaas ang presyo, dapat may dahilan yan. At ano ang sinasabi nila? Wala naman e. So, dapat magpakatotoo tayo. Ok lang sabihin na may problema tayo nang sa ganoon makapagsama-sama, tulung-tulong, maghanap ng lutas dito sa problema.

Q: Makapagsasagawa pa ba ng imbestigasyon ang Senado sa mga binanggit ninyo?

MAR: Maari naman siguro magpaimbestiga pero titingnan natin ngayon kung dadalo o anong datos ang dadalhin. Palagay ko makikita natin ngayon yung sinseridad ng ehekutibo para malutas itong mga problema na ito. Yung sa ZTE, o sige isantabi natin yan. O dito na lang sa bigas, palagay ko lahat naman ng ating mga kababayan naghihikahos doon sa sobrang pagmahal ng bigas. Dito sa mga farm inputs, pinag-aaralan natin ngayon iyan, lalong-lalo na yung seeds. sobrang mahal ngayon ng mais, sobrang mahal ngayon ng kopra at oil na ginagamit na substitute sa feeds ng mga hayop. Eh lahat yan sooner or later sa manok at baboy mag-rereflect na rin iyan. Pero ang importante dito ngayon ay huwag lang tayong tapon ng tapon ng pera.

Sa nakaraang food summit, more or less 50 billion pesos ang naka-earmark sa pagharap nito. Unang-una, bagong pera ba iyan? Dagdag ba iyan o yung dating pera na ng agri na ni-repackage lang para sa photo-op? Ano ba itong pera na ito? Saan nanggaling ito? Saan ilalagay ito? Eh kailangan magkaroon muna tayo ng masusing analysis kung ano talagang problema ng sa ganun yung pera natin na limitado ay malagay natin doon sa tamang lugar, hindi lang tapon tayo ng tapon ng pera na sa katapusan wala rin tayong nagamot.

Roxas calls for 10-year food security plan

“The Food Summit should have been convened long before the DA’s admonition for the people to start eating brown rice or half-a-cup of rice. The government was obviously caught flat-footed by the shooting up of rice prices in the world market and we now see an adrenaline rush among executives to come up with abrupt measures.

“We must now convert the current crisis into a genuine opportunity for agricultural reforms. What we need is a ten-year food security plan done quietly but competently in consultation with experts and stakeholders, attuned with global trends and realities but with very clear domestic targets and a realistic to-do list. Otherwise, we will continue to muddle our way through a global regime of soaring food prices. The well-meaning recommendations of different groups during the one-day Summit can be integrated into this ten-year plan.

“A ten-year food security plan must be done soup-to-nuts style, meaning from seed distribution to market access and with social programs to help farmers in between cycles. It must identify the number of driers that the DA will purchase for our farmers per municipality to prevent spoilage and wastage. It also must include a nationwide irrigation plan and funds for R&D attuned to specific rice productivity targets for the next ten years. It should include a detailed plan for other non-agricultural food sectors as well.

“We must also consider the fiscal sustainability factor as we are confronted with a humongous rice import bill for the coming months alone. I reiterate my call on the President to convene the LEDAC so we can reach a consensus on interim and long-term solutions to the current food crisis and its impact on our country’s fiscal and economic situation.

“As to public accountability, let’s start with the government’s rice importation program. How much in totality are our rice imports? When were they negotiated, for how much per metric ton, and when will these rice imports actually arrive in Manila? The release of such information is the best assurance to our people that there will indeed be adequate supply of rice in the country for the coming months. I ask the DA and DBM to present this bill of particulars to the people as a sign of their commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of agriculture funds.”

Sunday, April 6, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments [ More ]

Roxas pushes for immediate passage of minimum wage tax break

Senator Mar Roxas said he will push for the immediate passage of his bill to exempt minimum wage earners from paying income taxes when Congress resumes session in April, saying that workers need relief in the face of socioeconomic pressures.

He said he supports the call of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urging Congress to pass the bill as part of the upcoming Labor Day celebration on May 1. The Liberal Party President, however, added that it also takes political will on the part of the administration to have this bill passed.

Paparating na naman ang Labor Day, pero itong isang pangako ng administrasyon sa ating mga manggagawa ay hindi pa rin napatutupad. Patuloy pa rin ba silang aasa sa wala, sa gitna ng kagipitan?” he said.

Giving a tax break to minimum wage earners is imperative in light of the increasing prices of fuel and of food. It will only take a determined push from the President to get the ball rolling in the administration-dominated House,” he said, noting that all tax measures should emanate from the House of Representatives, as required by the Constitution.

Roxas earlier filed Senate Bill No. 103 seeking to exempt from income tax all minimum wage earners and all government employees from Salary Grades 1 to 3. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means has tackled the bill, but is awaiting House action before it could transmit its report to plenary.

As the TUCP noted, the bill would exempt about half a million workers from paying income taxes. Although the Finance department has estimated a revenue impact of P951 million, Roxas said this would be outweighed by the increased spending and savings among minimum wage earners.

Sa panahon ngayon na pataas nang pataas ang presyo ng bigas, langis at iba pang mga mahahalagang produkto, ito ay isang kongkretong solusyon na magbibigay kaginhawaan sa ating mga manggagawa,” he said.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | posted in , , , , , , | 1 comments [ More ]

Roxas warns gov't against excessive secrecy

Senator Mar Roxas warned the Government against excessive secrecy in the treatment of routine information with no bearing upon national or diplomatic security, saying that placing capricious limits to the people’s access to public information violates the Constitution and weakens the principle of democratic checks and balances.
It is unfortunate that our government habitually withholds routine information from the public just as the executive continues to use and abuse the claim of ‘executive privilege’ to further clamp down on information vital to the fight against corruption and general public discourse needed for democratic governance,” he said.
Kung wala namang itinatago, walang dapat katakutan. Pero mukha yatang ang policy ngayon ng administrasyon ay ‘minimum disclosure,’ ” he added, citing a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on recent moves of the government to restrict public information.
Roxas said the executive could show its sincerity in addressing corruption by supporting his Senate Bill No. 109, the proposed Free Information Act.
Oras na para pagtibayin ang karapatan ng mga mamamayan sa malayang impormasyon. Ang impormasyong ito ukol sa kung paano pinapatakbo ang gobyerno at paano ginagasta ang perang pinaghirapan nila ang siyang magbibigay ng ‘empowerment’ sa ating mga mamamayan laban sa mga pang-aabuso,” he said.
We need laws such as the Free Information Act to promote transparency and accountability and empower Filipinos. Once enacted, the law will sharpen the checks and balances needed for democracy to be stable and strong,” Roxas said.
The bill requires all government agencies to respond to all requests for information within two days. Only requests for information pertaining to national security, diplomatic relations and similar matters can be refused.

Roxas has also filed other bills in the interest of transparency: amendments to the Government Procurement Reform Act to clarify that even executive agreements are subject to public bidding; and to the Overseas Development Assistance Law to require all foreign assistance-funded projects to be ratified by the Senate.

Roxas noted the continued refusal of the Government to present to the Senate the NEDA-ICC documents pertaining to the controversial NBN project, claiming “executive privilege.”
These documents of the NEDA have always been open to the public, and for good reason: these NEDA-approved projects use public money. Paano na natin malalaman kung paano ginagamit ang pera natin?” Roxas said.
The Liberal Party President and Senator Noynoy Aquino, a fellow LP stalwart, have filed a petition with the Supreme Court for the executive to produce the NEDA-ICC documents.

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