Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez slams Atienza for questioning validity of RH law implementation

He said Rep. Atienza needs to move on.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking in a press conference a day before the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking in a press conference a day before the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez on Friday declared as “utterly baseless” the contentions of fellow solon, Rep. Lito Atienza, questioning the allegedly “illegal” implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law ostensibly without Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

During the budget debates last Wednesday, September 25, Rep. Atienza took the floor to chastise Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona for supposedly implementing the RH law even if the agency is yet to come up with an “updated” IRR to reflect the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on specific provisions of the law.

“Contrary to the opinion of Rep. Atienza, there is already a valid set of implementing rules for the RH law, and there is absolutely no legal obstacle to its full implementation,” Gutierrez said.

“The IRR, which was approved by a multistakeholder committee in March 2013, has a separability clause, which provides that any invalidation of some of its sections or clauses shall not affect the validity of the remainder. Thus the parts inconsistent with the SC decision will simply be deemed ineffective, while the rest will remain valid with full force and effect,” he explained.

The lawmaker said that the separability clause contained in Section 18.03, Chapter 6 of the RH Law IRR explicitly states that: “If any part of the provision of the Rules is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.”

“I realize that Rep. Atienza is not a lawyer, but understanding the implications of the separability provision does not require a law degree,” Gutierrez said.

“Even to an ordinary citizen, the interpretation of the provision is simple and clear as day–the rules are still effective, except those that were struck out by the court decision. Thus, there is certainly no need to craft another IRR,” he added.

Accept and move on

Gutierrez also criticized Atienza for raising a ‘non-issue’, saying this was a ploy to further delay the implementation of the law.

“The SC decision upholding the RH law and paving the way for its full implementation has already decided the matter with finality. It is obvious that Rep. Atienza is merely making a fuss over a non-issue in yet another attempt to delay its implementation. Congress has enacted the law, the Supreme Court has upheld its validity, and the Executive is all set to implement it, he should accept this and move on,” the lawmaker said.

“In our view, the implementation of the law is already long-overdue. To date, there are no longer any compelling arguments that would prevent the swift and implementation of the law,” Gutierrez concluded.###


Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez pushes for extension of deadline for filing of claims for Martial Law victims

Joint Resolution No. 16 filed by Akbayan Reps. Barry Gutierrez and Walden Bello extending the deadline of application for claims of human rights violations victims during Martial Law.

Joint Resolution No. 16 filed by Akbayan Reps. Barry Gutierrez and Walden Bello extending the deadline for application of claims for victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law.

“The lack of time should not pose as a hindrance to the recognition and reparation of the human rights victims for the sufferings and sacrifices they endured during Martial Law,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said.

His statement came Sunday on the 42nd year commemoration of the imposition of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, saying that “recognizing the struggles of the victims is important more than ever, as most survivors enter their final years.”

Gutierrez, with fellow Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, filed Joint House Resolution No. 16 extending the deadline for filing of claims for victims of human rights during the Marcos regime to cope with the large number of persons seeking for reparation and recognition under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

From November 10, 2014, the proposed measure seeks to move the deadline application to May 2015.

“The six-month extension was sought to allow the legitimate claimants, especially those living in far-flung areas of the country, full opportunity to file their claims with the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) and gain redress for injustices they suffered four decades ago,” Gutierrez said.

Emphasizing the urgency of the resolution, Gutierrez urged Congress for the immediate approval of the proposed measure, saying this is important in “making certain that the struggles of the people who have fought the Marcos dictatorship are given due recognition and the full opportunity to secure their rightful place in our history.”

“[And] we need to ensure that all those who suffered in the defense of freedom and democracy are rendered full justice,” he added.

“We urge both Houses of Congress to swiftly and immediately approve this measure that ensure the full realization of the goals and objectives of RA 10368 to recognize and provide reparation to the victims and their families who suffered deaths and unspeakable losses during one of the darkest periods in our history,” Gutierrez concluded.###

Rep. Gutierrez urges Congress for swift passage of alternative mining law

Rep. Barry Gutierrez flashing a poster urging for the passage of the AMMB, in support to the social media campaign launched by the SOS-Yaman Network for the bill.

Rep. Barry Gutierrez flashing a poster urging for the passage of the AMMB, in support to the social media campaign launched by the SOS-Yaman Network for the bill.

Environmental groups and advocates on Wednesday held a picket in front of the House Of Representatives (HoR) to urge Congress for the swift and immediate passage of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

According to Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, one of the champions and principal author of the proposed legislation, AMMB is the “best alternative” to the existing mining policy.

“What we need are long-term and efficient form of actions to effectively respond to the prevalent negative impacts and externalities spawned by the mining industry. No less than a radical shift in our minerals management law will do this,” Gutierrez said.

“It’s high time for Congress to pass an alternative minerals law that puts premium in the ecological value of our country’s mineral resources, and shift the land use priority towards environmental protection, food security and sustainable development,” the lawmaker added.

An estimated 200 environmental advocates joined the rally bearing posters urging the Congress to prioritize and enact the AMMB, instead of the economic charter change.

The activity was organized by Akbayan, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and partner environmental and human rights organizations and advocates.

When enacted House Bill 984, or the AMMB, will replace the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, to “regulate the rational exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources, and to ensure the equitable sharing of benefits for the state, indigenous peoples and local communities.”

“Through AMMB, we aim to ensure that the exploration, development and utilization of the mineral resources are truly responsive to the aspirations and welfare of our people now and in the future,” Gutierrez said.

The proposed legislation is currently under deliberation at the level of Technical Working Group (TWG) of the House Committee on Natural Resources.###

Akbayan lawmaker: House ready to work ‘overtime’ to ensure ‘inclusive peace’ a reality in the creation of Bangsamoro

A lawmaker on Monday expressed support to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying that the leaders and members of the House of Representatives are ready to work ‘overtime’ to ensure that “inclusive peace” will finally become a reality in the creation of the Bangsamoro.

“We are ready in Congress to provide the necessary legislative intervention that will give statutory “teeth” to the historic agreement aimed at building a just and enduring peace in Mindanao after decades of armed struggle,” Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said.

The statement was released after it was announced that the Ad Hoc Committee, created by the House of Representatives to tackle the 122-page draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), will convene on Tuesday morning for its first organizational meeting.

The meeting will discuss the ground rules and the schedule of hearings, including setting dates for consultations with stakeholders for the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

On Monday evening, the bill has been read on the floor and referred for deliberation to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The committee, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, will “review, evaluate and propose legislation relative to the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

“The House [of Representatives] is determined to enact this proposed law, which we believe would pave the way to a long-term stability, reconciliation and development in Mindanao,” Gutierrez said.

House Bill 4994, or the Bangsamoro Basic Law, provides the legal framework to the implementation of the peace accord signed in March between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

When enacted and publicly ratified, House Bill 4994, or the Bangsamoro Basic Law, will establish a new political entity, to be known as “Bangsamoro”, that will replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).”

Inclusive peace

Gutierrez also reiterated his call to Congress to ensure that the rights and welfare of the indigenous peoples (IPs) living within the bounds of the Bangsamoro are duly protected and promoted.

“There is a need to make certain that the rights and freedom of the other indigenous groups and individuals are respected and promoted, and assured of their equal opportunities in their conduct of life within the Bangsamoro,” the Gutierrez concluded.###

Akbayan on the ‘long-awaited’ approval of the consolidated version of the FOI bill


We celebrate the approval today of the consolidated version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill by the FOI Technical Working Group (TWG) of the House Committee on Public Information. This a positive and long-awaited step in citizen-led efforts toward the further institutionalization of transparency and accountability in government.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking during a House Committee hearing.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez speaking during a House Committee hearing.


That the authors of various versions of the FOI bill were able to come together in common consensus to support a single, unified consolidated bill is proof positive of the determination in the House to see the FOI enacted into law in the soonest possible time.
The long and exhaustive deliberative processes that the proposed legislation went through likewise reaffirms the strong commitment of House of Representatives in securing the passage of this very important bill that will protect and the advance the reforms this administration has initiated. The people’s access to pertinent information regarding government’s transactions will empower the citizenry towards meaningful participation within the political processes, thus, deepening and strengthening our democracy.
We also thank and congratulate the FOI advocates and other civil society allies for their unwavering support throughout this process. It is in large part due to their help that we are one step closer towards making this bill a reality.
As we celebrate the passage of this bill at the TWG level, however, we are also preparing for the next stages to secure and advance this hard-fought victory. We must ensure that it passes smoothly and expeditiously through the Committee-level, and eventually through the House plenary on Second and Third reading.
But for now, today’s small yet sweet triumph has given us renewed vigor and confidence to see this process through to a successful end — the enactment of the Freedom of Information Law.###