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  • House panel to hold hearings in Mindanao this week   Congressional hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro basic law are set in Mindanao this week. Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, House of Representatives special committee on the Bangsamoro basic law  chairman, said that Muslims, Christians, indigenous people, local officials, businessmen, and other stakeholders would be consulted as “they have a stake in the proposed law, in the envisioned Bangsamoro region and in peace in Mindanao.” This week’s hearings will be held in Cotabato City, other towns of Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos City. Though Cotabato City is not part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), it is the seat of the regional government. A new Bangsamoro entity would replace ARMM if the people ratify the proposed law in a plebiscite. The draft law covers Cotabato City and other areas, including Isabela City in Basilan, which had voted against inclusion in the ARMM.
  • Changes to broadband speed rules eyed                   The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will amend its memorandum on the minimum speed of broadband connections after concerned parties on a Senate inquiry on Sept. 16 sought for some changes in the terms. NTC Director Edgardo Cabarios said that a public consultation and hearing was sought after some telecommunication providers during a Senate hearing proposed “ways to measure speed connections and methods of measurement.” The Senate inquiry last month, which was called by Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, was centered on whether consumers are getting their money’s worth from their Internet and telecommunications service providers. NTC said during the hearing that it will issue a memorandum circular prescribing minimum standards for telecommunication companies and Internet service providers on broadband connectivity. In a notice of public consultation and hearing published yesterday, the NTC invited all affected and interested parties to a meeting on Nov. 7 about their proposals to amend Memorandum Order No.07-07-2011 on the minimum speed of broadband connections.
  • Congress, DOE set talks on emergency powers     The Department of Energy (DOE) and Congress are set to discuss President Aquino’s request for emergency powers to deal with a projected electricity shortage in Luzon in the summer of 2015. Sen. Sergio Osmeña, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, has asked for a special meeting with Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. to thresh out details on the grant of special powers. Congressmen, meanwhile, want more details about Pres. Aquino’s proposed special powers. Other lawmakers, however, urged Malacañang and DOE to submit the details of Pres. Aquino’s request for emergency powers to deal with the projected electricity shortage. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said no details have been submitted yet 9 days after Malacañang sent Pres. Aquino’s request to the House of Representatives and the Senate on Sept. 12.
  • PH open to more bilateral agreements                      Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said the Philippines is willing to look into having bilateral trade agreements with other countries to promote greater trade. He said: “We have to manage our resources well. But we are not closing that door. Of course we are interested. We are interested in exploring more bilateral FTAs (free trade agreements)…We just have to undergo usual consultations, impact studies.” He added that the government is aiming to start FTA negotiations with the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which groups Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland next year. To start FTA negotiations in 2015, the government wants to conclude scoping exercises for both the EU and EFTA agreements within the year. Aside from starting negotiations for new FTAs, the country is also involved in ongoing talks for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – Hong Kong trade agreement.

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