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The House Committee on Appropriations Rep. Karlo Nograles (1st District, Davao City) with Rep. Celso Lobregat as Vice has officially began its budget hearings on the 2019 proposed fiscal year national budget.

The budget is pegged at P3.757 trillion. It is the third expenditure plan of the Duterte administration, and is the first cash-based budget presented to the committee.

Lobregat said that it is through the budget that the government lays down the policies for growth and development.

Under the proposed, he said an allocation of P283.5 billion will go to select major social programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4 P’s), National Health Insurance Program, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, Free Irrigation for Farmers, Basic Educational Facilities Program, Rice Subsidy for Military and Uniformed Personnel, and Support for Sugarcane Producers/Farmers.

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The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) has bought a P14-M disaster tow truck to be used in times of calamities and emergencies.

XJJ Enterprises, the firm linked to the controversial P38-million Mobile Clinic and the P4.7-M garbage truck, supplied the tow truck.

Clint Senosa, CDRRMO Operations Officer, said that the new truck came from the United States and has a capacity of 12 tons.

He, however, stressed that this equipment cannot be used for traffic purposes or to remove vehicle obstructions from city streets.

Such folly of sort. Whereas calamities or disasters and the example of a truck that falls into a ravine, do not happen frequently; yet, the tow truck will stagnate and gather dust and rust while no facility is available to tow away illegally parked and/or stalled vehicles that abound in practically all nooks and crannies of the city streets.

An idiocy of genius, really.

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Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday reiterated his warning that the government’s planned joint exploration venture with China in the West Philippine Sea should “comply with the Constitution.”

He was referring to Article XII Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that marine resources within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) should be reserved for the exclusive use of Filipinos.

But Sen. Panfilo Lacson has a different mindset, and voiced an opinion.

Without violating the 1987 Constitution, he said, Pres. Duterte can enter into a joint exploration with China in the alleged oil-rich Spratly island chain in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), on a 0-40 sharing scheme.

But the Philippines, he stressed, has to hold the majority 60 percent share in a pooled capita with China holding the remaining 40 percent.

Studies show, Lacson pointed out that the contested WPS area holds some hundreds of billions of barrels in oil, and a trillion barrel of natural gas.

SS does agree with the Lacson's formula.

Firstly, we have to admit that the Philippines is cash-strapped. Secondly, we lack the technology. Going with it alone is almost impossible unless the government fills up its coffers with loans upon loans.

Let us be practical.

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President Duterte is still hopeful that the newly passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will serve its purpose in achieving the long-elusive peace in Mindanao.

Not at all order now, Mr. President. Clearly, the MILF is appeased.

It may then be a matter now of only soothing the sentiments of all rebel factions, notably the MNLF, who were apparently left out of the negotiations.

As in the words of Nung Ajihil, in his constant Facebook posts, all Muslim tribes must be made a part of the BARMM structure.

It should not be constricted to MILF members and supporters. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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