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Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
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Abolition of the Death Penalty is a Progressive and Humane Legislation

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (LAKAS-KAMPI CMD, Albay), principal author of R.A. No. 9346 which abolished the death penalty on 24 January 2006, rejected calls for the re-imposition of the capital punishment.

“Knee-jerk reactions to the commission of a sensational crime do not justify the reversal of a progressive and humane legislation,” Lagman emphasized.

Lagman added that “it took the Philippines almost two decades, six Congresses and four Presidents to finally purge our penal statutes of the death penalty consistent with its abolition by the 1987 Constitution.”

Lamentably, there are again proponents for its re-imposition after three years and a half only.

Lagman also said that “the long crusade which was waged and anchored on empirical data, overriding reasons and worldwide advocacy should not be put to naught by misplaced calls for retribution and deterrence.”

It was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s full support for the passage of the abolition measure that accelerated and assured the repeal of the death penalty.

In opposing the re-imposition of the supreme penalty, Lagman underscored the following:

1.    Modern and progressive penology is oriented toward rehabilitation and restorative justice, not punitive execution.

2.    Empirical studies, both local and international, have debunked the theory that the severity of the penalty deters the commission of heinous crimes.

3.    What forecloses the commission of a crime is the realization by the prospective offender of the swiftness of apprehension, speediness of prosecution and the certainty of conviction once warranted.

4.    The efficacious antidote to criminality is not the penalty but an efficient and honest police, prosecutorial and judicial system.
REALITIES  SUPPORT  PASSAGE
OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL

The celebration of World Population Day brings to mind a great Filipino who was among the first to champion family planning and pioneer the inclusion of family planning as an indispensable component of the agenda on sustainable human development.

This Filipino was Rafael Salas who served for eighteen years as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, then known as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

For his efforts in promoting worldwide family planning and reproductive health as universal human rights and underscoring the inevitable linkage between population and development, he earned internationally the title of “Mr. Population”.

It is unfortunate that his own Philippines lags behind in the implementation of his world-acclaimed agenda on population as it relates to human development, and our country has yet to enact a nationwide and comprehensive statute or law on family planning, reproductive health and population development which is genuinely health and rights-based and adequately funded.

But all is not lost. We are still optimistic that the Third Session of the Fourteenth Congress will finally witness the passage of the reproductive health bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This optimism is based on the following realities:

1.    130 Members of the House of Representatives have co-authored the RH Bill and they have remained steadfast in their advocacy.

2.    This number at any given time constitutes a majority of the quorum of the House of Representatives wherein only a simple majority of the quorum is needed to approve the measure.

3.    The co-authors are augmented by about two dozens Congresspersons who have pledged to vote for the RH bill despite their being not overt signatories.

4.    The overwhelming public support for the bill has been consistent for almost two decades as documented by surveys after surveys both nationwide and local.

5.    Multi-sectoral endorsement is mounting from the vast NGO community, academe, labor, business, professionals, youth and inter-faith partnership of Christian churches and Muslim communities.

6.    There is bicameral favorable action in the Senate.

7.    The MDGs will be more attainable, particularly the improvement of maternal health, reduction of infant mortality, universal primary education and eradication of poverty and hunger, once the RH bill becomes a law since family planning: (a) reduces the incidence of risky and unwanted pregnancies which result to maternal and infant deaths as well as abortions; (b) promotes birth spacing; and (c) allows women and couples to plan the number of their children whom they could afford to educate, medicate and truly love and care for.

8.    The country’s coping with the global economic meltdown can be made easier with the passage of the RH bill because the lesser the size of the population, the greater would be the efficacy of the government’s response to the crisis.

9.    The mitigation of the population growth rate (PGR) will generate savings which will enable the country to invest more on education, health, food security, employment, mass housing and the environment.

10.    With the definitive political will of Congress, the growing support of the Filipino people and the realization and understanding of the nexus between population and development, it would be unwise for the Executive to reject the RH bill.
REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN
NW 411, House of Representatives
11 June 2009

 

Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, principal author and sponsor of House Bill No. 4077 or the CARP Extension with Reforms bill, underscored that “the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of CARP, with compulsory acquisition as the dominant mode, is extended for five (5) years retroactive to 01 July 2009 up to 30 June 2014.”

He also stressed that funding support for CARP during the extended period is at least P150-B.

The Bicol solon explained that as part of the major reforms incorporated in the bill, support services have been increased from 25% to 40% of all appropriations for CARP broken down as follows:

(a) 30% of the 40% is allocated to liberalized and socialized rural credit facilities;
(b) 15% to farm inputs as requested by agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs);
(c) 5% to training and seminars of ARBs to enhance their efficiency, productivity and empowerment; and
(d) The balance of 50% goes to traditional support services like farm-to-market roads, production and post-harvest facilities and sourcing for markets for ARBs’ products.

“Conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands is also prohibited in order to enhance food supply and security,” Lagman added.

Another significant reform is the scrapping of the voluntary land transfer (VLT) mode after 30 June 2009. The VLT, Lagman says, is “documented to have been used for simulated and flawed ‘coverage’ and must be abandoned.”

Effective 01 July 2009 the only modes of acquisition of the remaining private agricultural lands are (1) compulsory acquisition (CA) and (2) Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS).

Lagman also added that two additional factors in the valuation of the covered landholdings have been included: (1) value of the standing crops at the time of coverage; and (2) 70% of the zonal valuation fixed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

OFFICE OF REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN
NW-411, House of Representatives
10 June 2009

 

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, principal author and sponsor of House Bill No. 4077 extending for five years the land acquisition and distribution (LAD) component of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), assures agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) that no “killer amendments” have crept into the extended program.

“From the start of the legislative process, we have rejected “killer amendments” and the Bicameral Conference Committee has purged the reconciled bill of any proposal tending to dilute the CARP,” Lagman underscored.

Lagman also said that “reports claiming that the Bicameral Conference has accepted and approved “killer amendments” are completely baseless and smack of inflammatory propaganda.”

The Bicol solon clarified that the amendment proposed by Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia that farmers and tenants actually tilling the land should be the beneficiaries of the landholding which is the subject of coverage is a sound and reasonable proposal based on the constitutional mandate of the “land to the landless tiller.”

“It also obviates the sporadic practice of unqualified outsiders being anointed as beneficiaries,” Lagman added.

Lagman stated that the approved amendment to Section 22 of the original law (R.A. No. 6657) sufficiently qualifies and delimits the Garcia amendment because it makes explicit that seasonal workers and other farm workers can be qualified as beneficiaries after the actual tillers have been accommodated and there is still an excess area for further distribution.

Section 22 of R.A. No. 6657, as amended, reads:

“Sec. 22-A. – A LANDHOLDING OF A LANDOWNER SHALL BE DISTRIBUTED FIRST TO QUALIFIED BENEFICIARIES UNDER SECTION 22, SUBPARAGRAPHS (A) AND (B) OF THAT SAME LANDHOLDING UP TO A MAXIMUM OF THREE (3) HECTARES EACH. ONLY WHEN THESE BENEFICIARIES HAVE ALL RECEIVED THREE (3) HECTARES EACH, SHALL THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE LANDHOLDING, IF ANY, BE DISTRIBUTED TO OTHER BENEFICIARIES UNDER SECTION 22, SUBPARAGRAPHS (C), (D), (E), (F) AND (G).”

The requirement that the landowner should attest to the certification by the Barangay Agrarian Reform Council (BARC) listing the legitimate tillers cannot be used by the landowner to derail land acquisition and distribution because there is a penal sanction for any undue delay in making the attestation.

Section 73 of R.A. No. 6657, as amended in the reconciled bill, includes among the prohibited acts “any undue delay in the compliance of an obligation” under the CARP law.

PRESS STATEMENT
18 March 2009

The so-called “affidavit of recantation” of Suzette S. Nicolas, formerly known as Nicole, and her departure for the United States “for good”, leave more questions than answers.

However, the legal situation remains that the rape case against Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, which is a public crime, can prosper not withstanding the belated “affidavit of recantation” from the victim.

Nicole’s affidavit manifest facts consistent with her being raped by Smith, like the following:

1.     She was admittedly virtually unconscious when Smith had sex with her;
2.     She was too intoxicated to defend herself from Smith’s advances; and
3.     She is in doubt as to what transpired, but the physical evidence presented in court showed that Smith consummated sex with her and that her panties and the condom used in the intercourse had the “seminal stains of Smith” and that the DNA found on those stains “matched’ those from Smith’s blood.

The answers to the following questions can unravel a conspiracy to mock and derail the Philippine justice system, secure freedom for an American felon and preserve an improvident Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which perpetuates American intervention in the Philippines :

1.     When did Nicole apply for an American visa?
2.     When was she granted a visa by the US Consular Service in the American Embassy in the Philippines ?
3.     Did this happen during the pendency of Smith’s appeal with the Court of Appeals?
4.     What kind of visa was issued to Nicole?
5.     If she was issued an immigrant’s visa so that she can stay in the United States for good, what entitles her to an immigrant’s visa?
6.     Did Nicole only receive P100,000.00 which is the equivalent of US $2,000.00? How can she stay in the United States for good with US $2,000.00?
7.     Who bought her ticket and from what airlines?
8.     Who was her traveling companion?

Moreover, the payment of damages by Smith to Nicole is a badge of guilt. Why should an accused appealing his conviction pay damages if he is not liable for the crime he has been convicted for?