Celso updates current Congress initiatives Print
Sunday, 03 September 2017 14:26

Congressman Celso L. Lobregat gave updates on three important issues being handled by their respective committees, specifically: the conclusion of the inquiry on the P6.4 billion shabu smuggled from China which passed through the Bureau of Customs Express Lane; the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to next year; and the committee-level approval of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

In an interview with RMN Zamboanga, Lobregat said the committee report on the smuggling of P6.4 billion shabu is already being routed for signing by lawmakers. Among the committee’s recommendations is the filing of criminal and administrative cases to all institutions that are involved based on the testimonies and documents obtained during the conduct of the hearings.

Lobregat said there was also the violation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the BOC and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) with respect to the conduct of the raid at the warehouse in Valenzuela City for the seizure of the smuggled shabu.

The solon said the BOC operatives did not secure a search warrant in going to the warehouse and opening the crates containing the shabu. What they used as a basis for their opening of the crates was an LOA or letter of authority, which does not expunge the power of the search warrant.

The committee also came up with a recommendation on the cases of giving and acceptance of “tara.” These violate RA 3019 on direct bribery and corruption of public officials.

Meanwhile, on proposals to postpone the Oct. 23, 2017 barangay and SK elections, Lobregat said leaders of the House and Senate would likely meet and arrive at a common proposal. He said the House version seeks to reset the elections to the second Monday of May 2018 while the Senate bill wants the polls moved to October 2018.

“Based on procedure, I understand that has to be threshed out by means of meeting again by the leaders of both the House and the Senate. There is no issue between the two houses whether to postpone or to proceed (with the elections). The only issue is what date will the elections be ”said Lobregat.

Lobregat further said it is his understanding that the Commission on Elections has already slowed down on its preparations to the point of almost stopping the printing of ballots for the elections this year.

As to the FOI bill, Lobregat said the measure will institutionalize the executive order on the FOI. The Zamboanga solon said an executive order can easily be replaced every time there is a new President and that it only covers offices of the executive department.

The FOI bill is now with the committee on appropriations which will act on the funding requirements for the FOI implementation by the different government offices, he said.

Lobregat said that hopefully after the House transmits the 2018 national budget to the Senate by Sept. 21, the appropriations committee can already act on the measure. – (Dexter Yap/PR)