Butch Fernandez

2663 posts
Butch Fernandez is BusinessMirror’s senior political reporter based at the Senate. He has covered Malacanang (3 presidencies), the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, local governments and defense since 1984.
Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

Senate President Zubiri moves to ratify ILO treaty

SENATE President Juan Miguel Zubiri, clearing the way for its early ratification, pledged his vote for concurrence to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No.190, the first international treaty to recognize the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, “if and when it is transmitted to the Senate.”

Senate focuses on gross gaming revenue gaps at POGO hearing

THE head of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, at Monday’s hearing on the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), vowed to dig deeper into the implementation of Philippine laws, including taxes collected from POGOs and the legal and regulatory compliance by the third-party auditor consortium tapped to determine the proper Gross Gaming Revenues of licensed POGOs.

Blue Ribbon wants PS-DBM, DepEd officials charged over laptop deal

THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) has recommended the filing of graft and corruption charges against the controversial former chief of the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) Christopher Lloyd Lao, along with several former and current Department of Education officials, over the procurement of what state auditors called “overpriced” laptops bought in 2021.

Senate grills CAAP on lapse, ₧1B owed to JV tech provider

THE uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has not been examined the past three years by a third-party provider, an exercise that might have helped raise red flags in the CAAP’s system and averted the New Year’s Day fiasco that transformed Philippine air space into a no-fly zone, disrupting nearly 300 flights, stranding 65,000 people, and costing airlines and passengers billions.

Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

Senate sets CAAP fiasco hearing; Zubiri sees serious security risks

SENATE President Miguel Zubiri signaled readiness to actively participate in the Senate Public Services Committee inquiry on Thursday into the New Year’s aviation fiasco involving the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), that paralyzed air traffic control and navigation systems, disrupting nearly 300 flights and stranding 65,000 passengers.

Check ‘diversion’ of aviation gear fund–Ping

TRANSPORTATION officials in the Duterte administration may have failed—deliberately or not to spend P13 billion appropriated by Congress in 2018 for a vital backup in the air traffic control (ATC) system, then declared this as savings and realigned it for what are billed as “cosmetic” civil works in the airport.

Senators slam Naia flight service failure, warn incident may impact PHL tourism 

SENATORS on Monday bewailed the recent air traffic system glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) terminals that crippled international and domestic flight operations on Sunday, warning it impacts tourism efforts and serves as wake-up call for the real risk to the aviation infrastructure system of possible cyber attacks.

Bill prescribes basic education for future cybersecurity experts

SEN. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, aiming to ensure future cybersecurity experts start from basic education, prodded the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to open short-course training programs for cybersecurity experts and software engineers to further “develop talent for cybersecurity” starting from basic education.

Make SIM listing easy, safe–Poe

THE head of the Senate public services committee urged the government and telecommunications companies to ensure that the mandatory registration of the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) will be a convenient, secure and easy experience for mobile phone owners. This, amid warnings by privacy regulators that scammers—the main target of the SIM card law—were duping people into clicking bogus links to registration portals in order to hack their devices.

Solgen to join DOH in future
vaccine procurement nego

The Office of the Solicitor General is expected to join the Department of Health  (DOH) in negotiations for another bulk purchase of vaccine supply against the deadly Covid-19 virus, according to Senator Francis Tolentino, chairman of the investigating Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Public Accountability.

Longer low-tariff regime for food imports backed, but…

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) backed the extension of lower tariff duties on certain imported commodities to ensure steady food supply and ease inflation, but acknowledged—as pointed out by a lawmaker and farm groups—that the lower tariffs thus far have worked only marginally in bringing down local prices. The DA also sees the need for a periodic review of the tariff order in order to strike the right balance between helping consumers and protecting local producers.

Senate, House ratify bicam’s version of ₧5.268-T budget

THE Senate ratified on Monday the P5.268-trillion general appropriations bill for 2023 as approved by a bicameral conference commitee, amid concern raised by Minority Leader Senator Koko Pimentel that this is “actually the country’s first P6-trillion budget” because of the huge (P219 billion) increase in unprogrammed appropriations, and what he called “big swings” or changes made by the bicameral panel version on certain items.

Senate grills DENR on Masungi Georeserve

AFTER prolonged deliberations over the agency’s handling of the growing controversy—and potential violence —in the land claims in the world-acclaimed Masungi protected area in Rizal province, the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was approved by the Senate.

Scrutinize commission scheme of Grab—Poe

Senator Grace Poe, presiding chair of the franchise-endorsing Senate Committee on Public Services, prodded concerned authorities to step in and look into the plan to impose a 2-percent increase in the commission rate of ride-hailing firm Grab.

Senate opens 2023 budget drive

SEN. Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Finance panel, on Tuesday sponsored in plenary the P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, which he said had considered the usual budget priorities plus new risks from global and local headwinds despite the huge fiscal challenge.