Sotto reassures: Charter change will not be priority in Senate

SENATE PRESIDENT Vicente C. Sotto III reiterated during Monday’s reopening of Congress that the Senate will not prioritize change in the Constitution. He cited in particular the charter change as recommended by some 1,500 town mayors to institutionalize a higher share  in national taxes for local governments, meant as additional fund source for the coronavirus response.  He said the proposed changes in the 1987 Constitution to strengthen local response to the coronavirus pandemic may be addressed through the Local Government Code. “Ano ba ang kulang sa (What is lacking in the) Local Government Code? Ang pagkukulang ba kailangan Constitution ang galawin (Will addressing the limitation require changing the Constitution),” he said at an online briefing after the session opened. Mr. Sotto said improvement of the digital landscape and distance learning system amid the coronavirus pandemic are among the main concerns that the Senate aims to tackle. The establishment of safe and efficient public transport system in the new normal will also be pushed in the chamber along with measures that will encourage entry of new businesses and support creatives. “There is no question that the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic will leave all of us changed. In this cusp of transformation, we are all challenged to take part in building a new world,” he said.

House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano, meanwhile, proposed to strengthen the agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing sectors through investment in infrastructure. He likewise pushed to support the creative industry as he committed to file a bill creating the Department of Arts and Culture. On top of this, Mr. Cayetano called on displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as well as urban planners, engineers, and architects to help in rebuilding the country and decongesting highly-urbanized areas. “Properly supported and given the right opportunities, these returning OFWs will form the first wave of our offensive in the countryside,” Mr. Cayetano said in his opening statement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Slow cash subsidy distribution due to low digital payment registration — DSWD


ONLY FIVE million out of the 17 million target beneficiaries of the government’s second round of cash subsidy program have so far received aid due to low registration in the digital payment platform set up for distribution, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). In a briefing on Monday, DSWD Undersecretary Rene Glen O. Paje said P32.05 billion has been distributed as of Sunday, including for those already registered under the government conditional cash transfer program known as 4Ps. He said only 4.3 million have registered on the electronic platform ReliefAgad, which the DSWD launched to make distribution faster and safer for both beneficiaries and government workers. Twelve million out of the 18 million beneficiaries under the first tranche are entitled to the second round, plus five million more who were previously waitlisted. — Gillian M. Cortez