Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370


of the


Representative of the 1st District of Albay

PLCPD Chairperson for the House of Representatives and

House Minority Leader

House of Representatives, December 6, 2010


            I am not going to give you any more data than what has already been presented by the United Nations Resident Coordinator herself. However, I would like to emphasize some aspects that astound me personally.

           The United Nations’ report last December 1 should be a veritable wellspring of hope. Globally, the new number of reported cases of HIV infections and deaths has dropped by nearly 20 percent.

           It is therefore both ironic and tragic that the Philippines’ trajectory is towards the other direction. Our country’s HIV/AIDS statistics have increased by 30 percent!

           In October this year, 104 new cases of HIV Ab sero-positive were added to the ever growing list, reaching the total of 1,035 from January to October alone. Of this, 15 were classified as AIDS.

           In 2000, there was an average of one new case every three days.  Last year, that figure went up to two new cases each day. This year, the cases have gone up to four every single day. These figures are saying something. One new case of HIV a day is worrisome enough. Four is definitely alarming. It is not a question of what we are doing to prevent the spread of the disease but what we are not doing to prevent its proliferation.

           When the first case of HIV in the Philippines was reported in January 1984 up to September of last year, the total number cases of HIV Ab sero-positive has reached 7,490. Of this, only 5,729 were reported to the HIV and AIDS Registry. Most of the victims are male and in the prime of their lives at 25-34 years, and forty six percent come from the National Capital Region. Three hundred and eighteen were reported to have already died of AIDS or its complications.

           Indeed, HIV and AIDS are components of reproductive health but they cannot be treated as secondary issues. As in all the other components of RH, this should be dealt with utmost attention and care, and with precise steps. Just like maternal and infant death and morbidity, the HIV/AIDS problem in the Philippines is a public health concern.

           In 1998, the Congress enacted RA 8504 or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act to respond to the spread of the disease in the country. Twelve years have passed and we are confronted with a bigger problem – our disturbing data on HIV/AIDS is clearly leaning towards a possible epidemic. With this development, we must realize the urgent need to review the effectiveness of this law and to reverse the growing number of infections in the country.

           The establishment of the Philippine National AIDS Council nearly two decades ago has clearly defined what actions to take and which agencies must take the lead in ensuring universal access of infected persons to basic health care services; promoting and protecting the fundamental human rights of HIV/AIDS patients; educating the public regarding this deadly disease; and preventing the multiplication of people living with HIV/AIDS.

           The creation of several mechanisms such as the establishment of the HIV Surveillance System, development of modules and protocols incorporated in the school and DFA curricula and capacitating health care providers now seem inadequate with the rate of increase in HIV/AIDS infection our country is experiencing.

           The current available date may be frightening but this does not have to mean that contracting the disease is inevitable. Relevant information, proper education and a necessary amount of discipline and discretion are the basic keys.

           Experience in other countries has proven that once the cases begin to rise to the level of epidemic proportions, it will be very hard to contain. Although recent figures may indicate a grim future for the Philippines, Filipinos have the enviable reputation of being both resilient and determined when we set our hearts and minds to accomplishing something. HIV/AIDS may be a deadly disease but it is not unconquerable.

           What we must constantly keep in mind is that although sufficient funding is indispensable for the success of our anti-HIV/AIDS program, the program itself must certainly be anchored on value-based techniques that will help curb this deadly disease by changing behavior.

            We cannot win the battle against HIV/AIDS if we fail to particularly address and ultimately alleviate the discrimination and stigma directed towards people living with the disease and vulnerable groups like sex workers and members of the gay community.

            It is precisely stigma and discrimination that generate fears and myths and misconceptions on HIV/AIDS and may eventually lead to misinformation and attitudes of denial. The shame felt and prejudice experienced by victims may also hinder their access to basic information and essential prevention and treatment services. Stigma and discrimination therefore may interrupt or even put out of joint fundamental principles in public health services, like early diagnosis and timely and appropriate remedies and treatment.

            Legislators and legislation are central players in the fight against the spread of the disease and in combating the stigma and discrimination that often go hand in hand with HIV/AIDS. We must all do our share in battling this fatal and debilitating illness through responsive and responsible public policies.

            Too much is at stake for us not to take concrete action to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, a disease that does not only end lives but strips many of its victims of their dignity and leaves in its wake much despair, disability and death.

            Thank you very much and I hope that this activity will inspire us to strengthen our efforts in halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS in our country.

            Maraming salamat.





Minority Leader, House of Representatives


The Office of the President did not only propose the national budget through the National Expenditure Program (NEP). It also virtually appropriated the national budget through a rubberstamp majority in the Congress – both in this House and in the Senate.

           For the first time in Philippine legislative history after martial law, Malacañang has effectively transformed the Congress into a colossal subservient and faithful photocopying machine – reproducing the NEP in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) almost in the entirety of the President’s proposal with minimal realignments but an exact total of P1.645 trillion as a reflected in the President’s original submission.

           I am informed that there is a categorical and persistent instruction from Malacañang to have the NEP untouched and undiminished, effectively subverting the power of the Congress, particularly this House, over the public purse as enshrined and mandated by the Constitution.

           As a result of Malacañang’s undue and omnipresent interference in the budget process, not a single centavo was cut from the original proposal of P1.645 trillion as if the Office of the President drafted a magnum opus of a national budget highlighted by a P21 billion Conditional Cash Transfer program and a P15 billion Public-Private Partnership hazy outlay, among other huge lump sums.

          Compare this to previous years where the Congress reduced the President’s budget by P400 million in 2010; P300 million in 2009; P300 million in 2008; and P200 million in 2007. For 2011, to reiterate, not a single centavo was cut.

          For 2011, the Congress (the House and the Senate collectively), realigned only P2.306 billion which much less than one percent of the 1.645 trillion budget.

         Compare this with the previous years when Congress truly exercised its plenary power of appropriation with the following realignments: P67.1 billion in 2010; P56.5 billion in 2009; P38.5 billion in 2008; and P20.5 billion in 2007.

What is worse is that even the meager realignments in the 2011 national budget were obviously errant and unwarranted. Consider again the following:

1. P750 million was slashed from the school building program which is already inadequate to respond to the huge classroom backlog. This amount was realigned to 5,000 additional teacher positions which should have been funded from the CCT since education is an allied program.

2. P200 million was reduced from the already small appropriation of P931 million for “family health and family planning”, thereby reducing this allocation to P731 million. It should be underscored that the bulk of the original outlay was not for the purchase of contraceptives.

3. And what happened to all of the proposed individual amendments of Members of the House who were told to submit their proposals to the Committee on Appropriations? Not a single significant amendment found fruition in the GAA, except the proposal of the Minority for the creation of a Congressional Oversight Committee on the CCT and the realignment of 2011 savings from the CCT to the Department of Health and the Department of Education, which unfortunately and improvidently were both effectively scuttled by the Senate.

We might as well have a requiem for the demise of the congressional power to appropriate public funds.




By: Rep. Edcel C. Lagman


          The grants of amnesty and pardon are acts of magnanimity and grace of the State, which is the principal offended party in criminal cases like mutiny, rebellion and other high-profile offenses.         

           Since the State is the prime aggrieved party, criminal cases are aptly captioned “People of the Philippines” versus the accused.

           Under Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution, the power of the President to grant amnesty is unqualified as to beneficiaries and the nature of the covered offenses. The only condition is that it must have the “concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.”

           The beneficent objective of the grant of amnesty is the attainment of peace and reconciliation. It serves the national interest.

           However, in order not to embolden future adventurism in attempting to illegally seize political power under the pretense of addressing grievances against the government, affording amnesty must be sparing.

           It must be recalled that the last effective amnesty was proclaimed 10 years ago in 2000 with the House of Representatives and the Senate signifying their concurrence on 06 December 2000 and 07 February 2001, respectively, to Proclamation No. 390 which granted amnesty to members and supporters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

           The congressional concurrence to an amnesty proclamation must transcend partisan boundaries. It is for this reason that the House Minority has decided to allow its individual members to cast conscience votes.

           However, the Minority has agreed to make four major recommendations to the President with respect to the amnesty proclamation and/or its implementation:

           1. The effectivity of Proclamation No. 50 must be changed from “upon the signature of the President” to “upon concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.” This is to abide with the constitutional prescription on congressional concurrence and also for the President not to marginalize the Congress. This has been adopted with the issuance of Proclamation No. 75 which amended Proclamation No. 50.

           2. All parties to the amnesty application – the applicant, the oppositor, and any intervenor – must have the right to appeal to the Office of the President from the decision of the Secretary of National Defense. Proclamation No. 75 likewise complies with this suggestion.

           3. No applicant must be granted amnesty without his admitting his guilt or criminal culpability in writing as expressed in his application. This is now incorporated in House Concurrent Resolution No. 08.

           4. Pending appeal by the proper party to the Office of the President from the decision of the Secretary of National Defense in the application for amnesty, such decision should not be executory in order not to render naught the right to appeal. Again, this is included in House Concurrent Resolution No. 08 as a recommendation to the President.

            Accordingly, I vote in favor of House Concurrent Resolution No. 08, as amended.

           A final word: while a daring act or rebellious spirit merits compassion, there must be no pardon or amnesty for incompetence and ineptitude.


(Delivered by REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, Principal Author of House Bill No. 96, at the public hearing on the RH bills by the Committee on Population and Family Relations on 24 November 2010)


If the oppositors to the RH bills can be true and candid to the public and to themselves, they would admit that they are objecting not because the bills are health measures but because the bills are basically family planning and population measures.

 Verily, the referral of the bills to the Committee on Population and Family Relations is correct and consistent with the jurisdiction of the committee on “all matters directly and principally relating to population growth and family planning” as provided by Section 27 (mm) of the Rules of the House.

 Family planning and population and development are interlinked with reproductive health.

 The RH bills aim to ensure an enabling environment for people to choose freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and the method of family planning best suited to their needs and personal convictions – which are basic human rights. They seek to help women and couples meet their fertility goals and guarantee the reproductive health of all Filipinos.

 Neither the Church nor the State has the right to dictate on the faithful or citizens which form of family planning they should use. That choice primarily and ultimately belongs to the couple, but most especially to women who bear the brunt of pregnancy, childbirth and childcare.

 The central concept of the RH bills is freedom of informed choice. There is neither compulsion or reprisals for non-acceptors nor rewards or incentives for acceptors.

A comprehensive, rights-based, health-oriented and development-driven law on reproductive health and population development will also:

 1.  Improve maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, and reduce maternal, infant and child mortality, consistent with the Millennium Development Goals whose common denominator is reproductive health and family planning;

2.  Effectuate the people’s right to sustainable human development;

3.  Help lower the incidence of abortion by preventing unplanned, mistimed and unwanted pregnancies – the very pregnancies which are terminated through abortion;

4.  Enhance the success  of the country’s poverty alleviation agenda; and

5.  Enable government to confront the challenges of climate change and environmental despoliation. I am positive that the enactment of a national statute that upholds the right of every woman to safe motherhood; the right of every Filipino to reproductive self-determination; and the right of every child to be born wanted, is nearing its ultimate realization.

 The people have spoken in favor of the RH bills in numerous surveys with consistent results; the leadership of the House is committed to prioritize consideration of the bills and put to a vote a consolidated version; the President is steadfast for responsible parenthood and voluntary contraceptive use; and the Holy Father has moderated the Church’s prior total ban on the use of condoms in favor of their use for health reasons.

I earnestly urge the approval of House Bill 96 together with the five allied bills.


(Speech delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on 01 September 2010)



            The rite of human sacrifice as a ritual for atonement is ingrained in the cultures of antiquity, including that of the Hebrew civilization.


          The sacrificial death of Christ to atone for the sins of the world and to save mankind could be part of this tradition as interpreted by ecclesiastical scholars.


          Human sacrifice in the ancient western tradition was death in the hands of a high priest or civilian authority.


          However, in feudal Japan (1192-1868) the sacrifice was self- inflicted as ritual suicide and formally known as seppuku or hara-kiri in common parlance, which was practiced by the Samurai (military nobility) and Daimyo (feudal lord) who was next only to the Shogun.



          To the Samurai, seppuku – whether ordered as a judicial punishment or chosen as a form of personal redemption or atonement – was a veritable “demonstration of their honor, courage, loyalty, and moral character”. Death is considered better than dishonor.


From human sacrifice and hara-kiri, a new concept of vicarious accountability or responsibility has evolved in what is known as “command responsibility”, also referred to as the “Yamashita standard” or the “Medina standard”. Command responsibility is the doctrine of hierarchical responsibility in cases of war crimes.


The doctrine of “command responsibility” was first established by the Hague Conventions and initially applied by the German Supreme Court in Leipzig after World War I in the 1921 trial of Emil Muller.


The “Yamashita standard” was set by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita who was prosecuted in 1945 for atrocities committed by troops under his command in the Philippines. Yamashita was charged with “unlawfully disregarding and failing to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command by permitting them to commit war crimes.”


The “Medina standard” originated in the 1971 prosecution of US Army Captain Ernest Medina in connection with the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. It holds that “a commanding officer, being aware of a human rights violation or a war crime, will be held criminally liable when he does not take action”.


It is said that “command responsibility is an omission mode of individual criminal liability: the superior is responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates and for failing to prevent or punish (such crimes)”.


A superior is culpable for “personal dereliction” or “where his failure to properly supervise his subordinates constitutes criminal negligence on his part.”


Guenael Mettraux in his The Law of Command Responsibility wrote that command responsibility “is a sui generis form of liability for culpable omission. The core of the commander’s culpa, and the basis of his liability, stands not in the contribution that he has made to the crime of the subordinate but in a culpable dereliction of duty.”


The doctrine of “command responsibility” has been applied in the corporate world, as well as in civilian establishment of government.


Adopting the “constructive knowledge” theory in command responsibility, Executive Order. No. 226, entitled “Institutionalization of the Doctrine of ‘Command Responsibility’ in All Government Offices Particularly at All Levels of Command in the Philippine National Police and Other Law Enforcement Agencies” and dated 17 February 1995, provides:


“Sec. 1. Neglect of Duty Under the Doctrine of ‘Command Responsibility’. - Any government official or supervisor, or officer of the Philippine National Police or that of any other law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for ‘Neglect of Duty’ under the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ if he has knowledge that a crime or offense shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his subordinates, or by others within his area of
responsibility and, despite such knowledge, he did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission.” (Emphasis supplied).


Moreover, Section 2 of the same EO specifies presumption of knowledge:


“Section 2. Presumption of Knowledge. – A government official or supervisor, or PNP commander, is presumed to have knowledge of the commission of irregularities or criminal offenses in any of the following circumstances:


a.    When the irregularities or illegal acts are widespread within his area of jurisdiction;

b.    When the irregularities or illegal acts have been repeatedly or regularly committed within his area of responsibility; or

c.    When members of his immediate staff or office personnel are involved.” (Emphasis supplied).


The rationale for the issuance of EO 226 is found in its “whereas” clauses which read:


“WHEREAS, strict and effective management and control of an organization by the supervisor is critical in ensuring responsive delivery of services by the government, especially in police matters;

“WHEREAS, a supervisor/commander is duty-bound and, as such, is expected to closely monitor, supervise, direct, coordinate, and control the overall activities of his subordinates within his area of jurisdiction, and can be held administratively accountable for neglect of duty in taking appropriate action to discipline his men.”


The doctrine of command responsibility underlies the determination of criminal liability in Section 13 (3) of Republic Act 9745, the “Anti-Torture Act of 2009” which provides that:


“The immediate commanding officer of the unit concerned of the AFP or the immediate senior public official of the PNP and other law enforcement agencies shall be held liable as a principal to the crime of torture or other cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment for any act or omission, or negligence committed by him/her that shall have led, assisted, abetted or allowed, whether directly or indirectly, the commission thereof by his/her subordinates. If he/she has knowledge of or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment shall be committed, is being committed, or has been committed by his/her subordinates or by others within his/her area of responsibility and, despite such knowledge, did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during or immediately after its commission, when he/she has the authority to prevent or investigate allegations of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment but failed to prevent or investigate allegations of such act, whether deliberately or due to negligence shall also be liable as principals.”


The relatively recent doctrine of “command responsibility” traces its ancestry to the common law principle of respondeat superior which was established in 17th century England to impute legal liability on an employer, master or superior for the tortuous actions of an

employee, servant or subordinate who is performing functions within the scope of his employment or agency.


The doctrine of respondent superior implies the responsibility of superiors on the actions of their subordinates in the discharge of the latter’s assigned duties.


This doctrine has been adopted by the Philippine Civil Code on damages arising from tort or quasi-delict with respect to the father or mother for damages caused by minor children; guardians in relation to delinquent acts of their wards; employers in relation to their employees; teachers in relation to their pupils; and the State in relation to damaging acts of special agents.


I have belabored the foregoing traditions and doctrines on vicarious responsibility or substituted accountability to further underscore the relevance and urgency of our call for the resignation or ouster of Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Secretaries Ricky Carandang and Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Group in the wake of the hostage-taking fiasco which claimed the lives of eight tourists from Hong Kong and that of the hostage-taker.


This shameful and horrifying 11-hour ordeal which was witnessed virtually by the entire country and the whole world speaks for itself, consistent with the Latin maxim res ipsa loquitor.


The resignation or ouster of the three Cabinet members concerned is not premature nor should it wait for the results of the ongoing investigations because their patent incompetence, culpable indifference and unmistakable failure of leadership cannot be erased or mitigated by any postmortem investigation.


Their censurable omissions and admitted absence during the crisis speak for themselves. No inculpatory evidence needs to be adduced to establish their respective liability or accountability. Neither is exculpatory proof acceptable to mitigate their responsibility.


In the case of Secretary Robredo, as the topmost official of the DILG in charge of the Philippine National Police, he is responsible for the errant negotiations and rescue operations bungled by his men. Worse, he is even guilty of contributory negligence for failing to take full control of the crisis situation.


It is a lame excuse that it is Undersecretary Rico Puno who has been designated “in charge of police affairs” according to President Benigno Aquino III. But Puno is only an underling. He is still accountable and under Secretary Robredo who, as alter-ego of the President, is the over-all in charge of the PNP.


Moreover, concerned police officials, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Secretary Robredo and President Aquino themselves, admitted the gross mishandling of the crisis which led to the fatal fiasco.


Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. The entire negotiation and rescue operations abysmally fell apart under Secretary Robredo’s watch.


Ironically, instead of voluntarily resigning or being forcibly fired, Secretary Robredo was named Vice Chair of the inter-agency task force which would, among others, determine his culpability.


In the case of Secretaries Carandang and Coloma, they are equally accountable for failing to enforce well-established international protocol for media covering hostage-taking incidents which are designed to secure the safety of hostages and prevent the leak of sensitive police rescue operations.


On hindsight, broadcast networks have conceded that they would have followed orders for a news blackout had they been instructed to do so. Both Carandang and Coloma were culpably unmindful of the adverse consequences of the fatal fiasco which was aggravated by the improvident blow-by-blow coverage by media which the two miserably failed to prevent.


The alibi of Malacañang that the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) elements lack training and equipment because no funds were allocated for police modernization in the past is belied by adequate appropriations provided for in prior years.


In 2008 the then administration allocated P10-Billion for police modernization to be spread over five years at P2-Billion per year starting 2008.


In fact, immediately after the hostage-taking fiasco, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa requested for the realignment of P230-Million from the PNP Modernization Program of P2.0-Billion for 2010 of which P50-Million will be used for the training of the PNP SWAT Teams and P150-Million for the procurement of ISO/Anti-Terrorism equipment. This request was endorsed by Secretary Robredo to DBM Secretary Florencio Abad in a letter antedated 25 August 2010. This only shows that requisite amounts have been appropriated and available, otherwise there would be nothing to realign.


The automatic and standard answer of Malacañang that the minority is “expected” to criticize the administration and its officials is evasive, trivial and unresponsive. The very serious indictments of “palpable incompetence”, “culpable indifference” and “unmistakable lack of leadership” are serious accusations based on facts and admissions which should not be dismissed as mere ranting or politicking of the minority bloc. The resignation call represents the overwhelming sentiments of an outraged people.


Even if I were allied with the present administration I would just the same spearhead the resignation call because this is the right action to pursue.


I do not ask Secretaries Robredo, Carandang and Coloma to offer themselves as human sacrifice in the tradition of antiquity as a ritual of atonement for others.


I do not ask Secretaries Robredo, Carandang and Coloma to commit sepukku or hara-kiri in the tradition of the Samurai to demonstrate moral character, honor and courage.


I do not yet trace command responsibility all the way to the Presidency even if it has effective responsibility and control over the Presidential Communications Group  and the DILG.


I demand that Secretaries Robredo, Carandang and Coloma resign or be ousted from the Cabinet, not as a penalty consequent to an investigation but in compliance with the doctrine of “command responsibility” and the tenet of respondeat superior.


This would be an appropriate sacrifice before the venerable altar of official competence and the temple of patriotism.


Thank you Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues.


Noynoy: Heads will roll over hostage rescue lapses
By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated September 01, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (373)


Senators press Aquino: Heads must roll

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:58:00 09/06/2010