No LRT, MRT operations from April 17 to 20

The two government-operated train systems, Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT), will not be in operation from April 17 until April 20. The announcement was made through their respective Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As The Filipino Scribe had reported previously, April 17 and 18 (Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively) are regular holidays while April 19 is a special non-working holiday. April 20 is Easter Sunday. Both train systems will resume normal operations by April 21.


LRT schedule holy week 2014

LRT schedule for the coming Holy Week (Credits: Facebook page of LRT Administration)

As indicated in the table above, LRT will be observing shortened operating hours for April 16, Holy Wednesday:

Line 1: Baclaran / Roosevelt (8:00 PM)

Line 2: Santolan (8:00 PM), Recto (8:30 PM)

In a separate Twitter post, the MRT administration said that the last train from its North Avenue station will depart by 10:00 PM.

Meanwhile, all government-recognized military veterans as well as their travel companions are still entitled to a free MRT and/or LRT ride until April 11. April 5 to 11 is War Veterans Week.

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Kris Aquino admits dating Herbert Bautista – TOP TEN CELEBRITY REACTIONS!

Ending weeks of speculation, television host and actress Kris Aquino finally admitted that she and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista are dating.

“We are a work in progress, and it is a joint project that both of us are happily undertaking with maturity, respect and commitment,” Aquino said in a prepared statement read during her show Aquino and Abunda Tonight.

Aquino had been hinting at a special relationship with the actor-politician through her Instagram posts in recent days. Here are the top ten reactions to the high-profile blossoming romance!

10. President Noy – “Kris, buti ka pa may love life. Ako dati meron, regular. Kaso naging light tapos ngayon, zero.”

9. Aquino sisters – Kris, as long as you don’t drag us in another controversy, keri na yan!”

8. Joy Belmonte – “Well Herbert, daddy and I are looking forward to 2016!” #AlamNa #LastTermMoNaYan

7. Quezon City students – “Walang pasok! Walang pasok! Ay summer nga pala. Sorry, mayor!”

herbert bautista class suspension

(Credits: Rowena Enorme via Facebook)

6. Agham Road residents – “P*%#@*& ka, Bistek! Yung mga bahay namiiinnn!”

agham road demolition

Demolition in Agham Road, Quezon City (Credits: Manila Times)

5. Joey Marquez –Three letters: S-T-D.”

4. Joshua and Bimby – “Another brotha from another fatha?!?”

3. Ai Ai – “Friendship! Good luck sa love life mo! Wag ka sana matulad sa akin! Ahahahaha!”

2. Hope Centeno – “Hi Kris. Remember me?!?” 

hope centeno james yap


1. James Yap: “How do I unlove you?” #JK

With the help of séance, martyred Senator Ninoy Aquino also reacted to his daughter’s new love! #Speechless

ninoy aquino meme

Si Bistek? Seriously?!?

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April 19 2014 Black Saturday Philippine holiday

Thanks to President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 655, Black Saturday, which this year falls on April 19, has been declared a special non-working holiday. This holiday therefore creates a four-day weekend (April 17 to 20) as the nation marks the culmination of the Lenten season.

As mentioned in another blog post, there is a different set of pay rules for special holidays like Black Saturday. The information below is based on the guidelines set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE):

For April 19 (Black Saturday)

• If the employee did not work, the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment on a special day.

• If the employee worked, he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her daily rate on the first eight hours of work.

Sample computation: (Daily rate x 130%) + COLA).

• If the employee worked in excess of eight hours (overtime work), he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on said day.

Sample computation: Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 130% x 130% x number of hours worked.

• If the employee worked during a special day that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional fifty percent of his/her daily rate on the first eight hours of work.

Sample computation: (Daily rate x 150%) + COLA.

• If the employee worked in excess of eight hours (overtime work) during a special day that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on said day.

Sample computation: Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 150% x 130%
x number of hours worked.

REMINDER: DOLE’s Statutory Handbook on Workers’ Statutory Benefits (2012 edition) stipulates that workers will only be entitled to a holiday premium if they are present or is on leave of absence with pay on the work day that immediately comes before the holiday.

In other words, if you want to not report for work from April 14 to 16, then you should file a leave now. Or else, your employer will have the right not to give you a holiday premium. Download the said DOLE handbook on this link.

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DOLE pay rules – April 17 and 18 holiday

Filipinos anywhere in the Philippines will be enjoy a rare four-day weekend next week as the nation marks the culmination of the annual Lenten Season. These holidays are listed in Proclamation 655, which President Benigno Aquino signed last September 2013. They are as follows:

April 17, 2014 – Maundy Thursday

April 18, 2014 – Good Friday

April 19, 2014 – Black Saturday

It must be noted that while  Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are regular holidays, Black Saturday is just a special non-working holiday. In other words, they are governed by different pay rules as stipulated by the Department of Labor and Employment.  Click here to read DOLE’s Handbook on Worker’s Statutory Monetary Benefits (2010 edition).

For Maundy Thursday (April 17) and Good Friday (April 18)

• If the employee did not work, he/she shall be paid 100 percent of his/her salary for that day. Sample computation: Daily rate + Cost of Living Allowance x 100%. The COLA is included in the computation of holiday pay.

• If the employee worked, he/she shall be paid 200 percent of his/her regular salary for that day for the first eight hours. Sample computation: Daily rate + COLA x 200%. The COLA is also included in computation of holiday pay.

• If the employee worked in excess of eight hours (overtime work), he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on said day.

Sample computation: Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200% x 130% x number of hours worked.

• If the employee worked during a regular holiday that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her daily rate of 200 percent.

Sample computation: [(Daily rate + COLA) x 200%] + 30% Daily rate x 200%).

• If the employee worked in excess of eight hours (overtime work) during a regular holiday that also falls on his/her rest day, he/she shall be paid an additional 30 percent of his/her hourly rate on said day.

Sample computation: Hourly rate of the basic daily wage x 200% x 130% x 130% x number of hours worked.

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Will Justice Presbitero Velasco be the swing vote against the RH law?

Pro-life Philippines president Eric Manalang recently predicted in a news conference that the Supreme Court will strike down the reproductive health (RH) law through a close vote. According to him, the outcome of the ruling will likely hinge on two swing justices whom he did not name during the event.

Writing for online media outlet Rappler last July, veteran journalist Maritess Vitug identified Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr. and Diosdado Peralta as potential swing justices. According to her, Velasco is looking for a middle ground wherein the SC “will declare only parts of, not the entire law, unconstitutional.”

Both Velasco and Peralta are appointees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, herself an opponent of the RH bill. Vitug speculated that Peralta may be inclined to vote against the RH law because he is a former law student at the University of Santo Tomas, a Catholic education institution.

There are clues on how Velasco may vote on the case at bar. Vitug noted after the fifth and final oral argument that Velasco repeatedly questioned the need to have a RH law. He stressed for one that the Department of Health already has a policy on contraceptives even without the RH law.

Presbitero Velasco

Presbitero Velasco, Supreme Court Associate Justice, is touted as a swing vote in the RH law case

His son, former Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, voted against the RH bill during the second reading at the House of Representatives. On that crucial round of voting, the pro-RH camp won by only nine votes, 113 to 104.

Several months before the actual vote, the younger Velasco joined the so-called 9YL, a group of nine first-term House solons opposed to the said measure. The group include actress and Ormoc City Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez as well as Cebu Rep. Rachel del Mar.

The justice’s son bid for a second term as Marinduque congressman failed when he lost last May 2013 to challenger Regina Ongsiako Reyes. Reyes ran under the ruling Liberal Party while the younger Velasco allied himself with the opposition National Unity Party.

Despite winning by 4000 votes, Reyes was disqualified by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with finality for being an American citizen just three days after Election Day. Last December, the Supreme Court affirmed COMELEC’s decision (Justice Velasco understandable did not take part in the case).

Despite the rulings made by COMELEC and the SC, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. insisted that Reyes remains the lone representative of Marinduque. He said that Reyes cannot be unseated yet since her case is still pending before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

Of course, Justice Velasco can ultimately view the RH law differently compared to his son. And who knows, he might be swayed by the plea of Belmonte that ruling the RH law as unconstitutional is like “vetoing” the will of the people. Will Velasco listen to the man who’s stopping his son from reassuming his House seat?

Needless to say, RH advocates may be better off putting their money on Peralta than on Velasco. For all intents and purposes, Velasco can be listed as a “no” vote.

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How will the Supreme Court rule on the RH law?

If published reports are to be believed, the 15 magistrates of the Supreme Court (SC) is set to announce its ruling on the long-stalled Reproductive Health (RH) law next week, perhaps as early as April 8.

The RH law, otherwise known as the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act or Republic Act (RA) 10354, was signed by President Aquino last December 2012, capping off years of intense debates and legislative maneuverings.

However, opponents of the law immediately headed to the High Court to challenge its constitutionality. By March 2013, the SC issued, through a 10-5 vote, issued a 120-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the RH law.

Four months later, voting 8-7, the SC decided to extend the said TRO indefinitely. The way justices voted on the TRO extension is an excellent indicator of how they will eventually vote as regards RA 10354’s constitutionality.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Marvic Leonen voted against the issuance of a TRO twice. Justices Martin Villarama and Bienvenido Reyes later joined them.

By being against the TRO, these seven justices essentially gave a green light vis-à-vis the law’s implementation. Why will you pave the way for the implementation of a disputed law if you think it is unconstitutional to begin with?


Supporters of the RH law launched the #Yes2RH campaign via social media

Now, let’s turn our attention to the justices who voted in favor of the TRO. It can be said that they are not necessarily against the RH law (except to the five justices who’ve been vocal against it during the oral arguments). Courts here and overseas regularly issue TROs and injunctions if the seeking party can show that it “will suffer immediate irreparable harm unless the order is issued.” In other words, suspending the implementation of the RH law may have been done out of prudence.

News website first broke the news last February that the RH law may be headed for defeat at the high court. The online news outlet mentioned justices Jose Perez, Teresita De Castro, Jose Mendoza (said to be the assigned writer of the ruling), and Roberto Abad as “inclined” to vote against the law. Incidentally, all four of them voted twice to stop RH law from being implemented.

The news reports prompted the opposing sides on the issue to make last ditch-efforts to sway the justices. Pro-Life Philippines president Eric Manalang called on their adherents to hold prayer vigils. He nonetheless expressed confidence that their side will have a close win depending on how two swing justices vote.

For his part, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that the SC will effectively “veto the people’s will” if it rules the RH law as unconstitutional. He noted that the law was passed by legislators in both the House and Senate, in their capacity as duly-elected representatives of their respective constituencies.

Some pro-RH groups like the Likhaan Center for Women’s health used the social media to show that the law enjoys popular support. Using the hashtag #Yes2RH, the group urged adherents of the bill to take pictures of themselves while holding hand-written signs expressing support for the law.

no to RH bill

A “No to RH BIll” tarpaulin outside Our Lady of Loreto Church in Sampaloc, Manila

Will the RH Law have the same fate as the Anti-Cybercrime Law?

The RH law and Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act share a lot of parallelisms although they deal with totally unrelated subjects. First, the two laws were signed by President Benigno Aquino III just three months apart.

Both laws earned fierce opposition even before they got implemented. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that criticisms against RA 10175 only gained traction AFTER it became law. In contrast, staunch opposition to the RH law had been there since a version of the legislation was introduced in the late 1990s.

Critics of RA 10175 and 10354 went to the SC to challenge the constitutionality of the aforementioned laws. And on both instances, the High Court suspended the implementation of these laws. Just like RA 10175, the RH law has a “separability clause.”

It states that “if any part or provision of the law is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.” Read the full text of 10354 here.

This is crucial in analyzing how the SC will ultimately deal with the constitutional challenge to the RH law. The SC ruling on the case involving RA 10175 shows that the High Court is unwilling to declare an entire law unconstitutional.

On that issue, the SC declared Internet libel constitutional even as it voided several of the law’s provisions. One plausible scenario therefore is for the SC to let the RH law stand as is while gutting some of its contested portions.

(UP NEXT:Will Justice Presbitero Velasco be the swing vote against the RH law?)

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Vice Ganda and the dilemma of Filipino same-sex couples

Vice Ganda in recent years has undoubtedly become the most high profile gay personality in the Philippines. The other person that fits the description would be talk show host Boy Abunda. As early as 2010, some had described him as a “gay icon.”

The comedian, Jose Marie Viceral in real life, was interviewed in Buzz ng Bayan last March 30. There, he talked about his relationship with his boyfriend, whose real identity remains the subject of speculations to this day.

According to him, he wants his boyfriend to eventually marry a woman. He said: “Gusto ko mag-asawa siya kasi, ewan ko, feeling ko magiging masaya rin naman siya doon.” (“I want him to get married because I think he will be happy with it.”)

The “Gandang Gabi Vice” host added that he would set his partner free if and when he decides to settle down. “Kapag nag-asawa na siya, sila na. Hindi na ako hahati.” Vice Ganda may be only speaking for himself, but he must have touched a raw nerve within the Filipino LGBT community, whether they are in a relationship or not.

People in their late 20s or 30s, regardless of relationship status, are frequently asked about their marriage plans. That’s logical because we regard marriage as the final stage or the culmination of a successful relationship (as we say in Filipino, “sa hinaba-haba ng prusisyon, sa simbahan rin ang tuloy”).

However, that’s only good for heterosexual or opposite-sex couples. If you are a same-sex couple here in the Philippines, you can’t possible aspire for marriage even if you and your partner had been in a committed relationship for decades.

jessica soho vice ganda

Vice Ganda, Arnold Clavio, and Jessica Soho (Credits:

Imagine this: You have a partner of 15 years then suddenly, he gets gravely ill. The problem is compounded by the fact that you can’t list him as your qualified dependent in any government entitlement program like SSS, PhilHealth, or PAGIBIG.

Obviously, Philippine law doesn’t offer any legal recognition to same sex couples. In contrast, the Family Code actually offers some benefits for live-in partners, as journalist Raissa Robles pointed out back in 2011.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court was right on the mark when she said last year that the need for same-sex marriages to be legally recognized “touch every aspect of life.”

These marriages are now recognized by their government, thanks to a historic US high court ruling last June which declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.

The 1996 law denied to same sex couples a wide array of federal government benefits, including the right to file joint tax returns and get social security privileges. And just today, it was also announced that gay couples can already apply for Medicare benefits.

Same-sex marriage is not likely to be legalized in the Philippines within this generation. Therefore, Filipino LGBTs in a long-term committed relationship will not be able to enjoy the legal protections of being in a duly-recognized marriage even if they are ready for it.

So if you cannot settle down legally with the man or woman you really love, what future lies ahead for the two of you? Ano ba ang patutunguhan ninyo? That puts Vice Ganda’s stand on marriage sad and disappointing but understandable nevertheless.


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