Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370
Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
03 August 2010
0918-9120137 / 0196-6406737

                                                  CENTENARIANS HONORED
                                                   IN LAGMAN’S PROPOSAL

“While we laud the youth as the hope of the future, let us commend centenarians as the fulfillment of the present.”

This was underscored by Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman, a staunch advocate of human development, after filing House Bill No. 834 which seeks to honor and grant additional benefits and privileges to Filipino centenarians and declares the 25th of September as National Respect for Centenarians Day.

“A major indicator of the level of a nation’s human development is life expectancy at birth,” Lagman said.

“We all aspire to live healthy, and consequently, long and productive lives. In a country where the average life expectancy is 71.6 years, living to be a centenarian, or three decades more than the average, is certainly a distinction worthy of emulation and public recognition,” Lagman emphasized.

The salient provisions of the proposed “Centenarians Act of 2010” are:

1)    On his or her 100th birthday, every Filipino residing in the Philippines or abroad shall be honored with a) a letter of felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity, and b) a centenarian’s gift in the amount of PhP100,000.000 chargeable against the contingent fund.

2)    As part of the annual Family Week celebration from September 19 – 28, the 25th of September is declared as National Respect for Centenarians Day during which all Filipinos who have turned 100 years old in the current fiscal year shall be awarded a plaque of recognition and a cash incentive by their respective city or municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies in addition to the Presidential recognition and the cash gift of PhP100,000.00.

3)   All living centenarians who reached their 100th birthday prior to the effectivity of the Act shall be honored on the celebration of the First National Respect for Centenarians Day or 120 days after the effectivity of the Act, whichever comes earlier, in appropriate ceremonies which shall be observed as a national event. They shall each be awarded a plaque of recognition and the PhP100,000.00 centenarian’s gift. In the same event posthumous plaques of recognition in honor of the deceased centenarians shall be presented to the nearest surviving relative of each centenarian or his/her representative.

4)    All centenarians shall be entitled to the grant of 50% senior citizen discount and exemption from the Value Added Tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the goods and services from all establishments.
Office of Minority Leader Edcel C. Lagman
31 July 2010
0918-9120137 / 0916-6406737

The Minority in the House of Representatives is seriously considering challenging before the judicial forum the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 of President Benigno Aquino III creating the Truth Commission of 2010.

Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman stressed that “the projected court action is not to shield officials of the previous administration who can be indicted and tried before existing prosecutorial and judicial bodies.”

He explained that “the sole purpose of the judicial recourse is to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution on separation of powers and maintain the rule of law.”

Lagman added that the establishment of the Truth Commission may be constitutionally infirm for the following reasons:

1.    The creation and funding of offices and commissions is a legislative power of Congress and consequently, the Truth Commission cannot be constituted by mere executive fiat;

2.    The equal protection clause of the Constitution may be violated by targeting a specific group of officials for investigation; and

3.    The Truth Commission duplicates the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman as well as the statutory jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, the Sandiganbayan and the regular courts.

He also underscored that all previous commissions of consequence like the Agrava Board or Commission under the late President Ferdinand Marcos as well as the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Committee (Commission) on Human Rights under the late President Corazon Aquino were created by legislative authorization.

“It will be recalled that both former Presidents exercised legislative power under martial law and the revolutionary government, respectively, while President Aquino III exercises only executive powers,” Lagman said.

He clarified that because the President does not have the funding authority which is reserved to the Congress, the appropriation language of Section 11 of EO No. 1 lacks particularity and transparency because no specific amount is appropriated, except by a nebulous statement that the “Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission” without identifying a definitive funding source.

Lagman observed that while the presidency has repeatedly announced that it wants speedy “closure” on the misdeeds of the previous administration, it authorized the Truth Commission to consume virtually 29 months from its creation or up to 31 December 2012 to “accomplish its mission.”

“This inordinately long duration granted to the Commission to terminate its investigation gives rise to apprehensions that the Truth Commission will be used as a launching pad for trial and conviction by publicity of expected respondents,” he added.
0918-912-0137, 415-5455
13 July 2010

There is delay in the issuance of the executive fiat creating the projected “Truth Commission” because there is need to ascertain to what extent can the President create a public office like a commission and the parameters of his authority to fund its operation.

Ordinarily, a public office is created and funded by the Congress, although the President’s control of the Executive Department can be used as basis for establishing “commissions” for a limited period.

Moreover, it is crucial to resolve the issue on duplication of functions between a “Truth Commission” and existing offices like the Department of Justice and judicial or quasi-judicial bodies like the constitutionally-mandated Office of the Ombudsman.

These existing agencies are not bound by the findings and recommendations of a “Truth Commission” because these regular bodies determine the filing of cases as well as assess the admissibility and competence of evidence based on their own independent judgment.

There is also the problem that the proceedings in the “Truth Commission” will be used wittingly for conviction by publicity of possible respondents.

Some quarters have also questioned the choice of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide to head the “Truth Commission”.

0918-912-0137, 415-5455
13 July 2010

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has nothing to prove or disprove as long as she disposes of cases with judiciousness and impartiality as the regularity of her actions is presumed under pertinent laws and jurisprudence.

It there are valid causes of action against the Ombudsman, the concerned persons must file the necessary impeachment complaints or court pleadings.

Conviction by publicity should be avoided.

It should be recalled that the impeachment complaint filed against the Ombudsman last year was dismissed by the House Committee on Justice and the dismissal was upheld by the Plenary.

There is a possibility that virtually the same “causes of action” will be re-filed.

The Ombudsman is a judicial officer who is entitled to sufficient discretion in the adjudication of cases.

She may commit errors of judgment like a judge or justice but is not punishable for honest mistakes.

In the same token, legislators are not accountable for the enactment of a statute subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
0918-912-0137, 415-5455
13 July 2010

Political killings and other human rights violations do not choose a regime as no administration is sacrosanct to criminals.

Consequently, the administration of the day should not be solely faulted for such criminal acts but must be bold enough to immediately create an environment of security to protect possible victims and develop a defensive strategy to discourage and expose would be perpetrators.

The basic problem is that all administrations inherit an existing military-police establishment which has developed a culture of violence and impunity in perpetrating human rights violations and other abuses.

Proof of this is the almost equal record of the Cory Aquino administration and the Marcos regime in the number of involuntary disappearances which, on a time frame basis, the Cory government had relatively more cases because she served for six years while Marcos ruled for 21 years.

It should be recalled that the martial law military bureaucracy survived the People Power revolution.