Andanar on Maguindanao massacre case: Hoping for decision by November

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 6, 2019   •   570

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar hopes that there will be a decision on the Maguindanao massacre case by November.

“The court has already deemed the case as submitted for decision, and barring unforeseen circumstances, we are hoping for a decision by the 3rd week of November,” Andanar said in a statement.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a letter to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) on Tuesday (Sept 3) stating that the case has already been submitted for decision.

Andanar said the Duterte administration expects that justice will prevail for the victims of the massacre as well as their families.

“This is another addition to President Duterte’s legacy, that one of the most despicable acts against journalists in the history of the world will finally come to a close during his term,” he added.

READ: DOJ: Maguindanao massacre verdict out by November

Meanwhile, the PTFOMS said they will remain vigilant to ensure that there will be no more delays regarding the case.

“We will exhaust all means to help guard the sanctity of the judicial process in these crucial times, so that justice may finally be served in these cases,” according to PTFOMs executive director Presidential Communications Usec. Joel Egco.

This year will be the 10th anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre that happened on November 23, 2009.

Fifty people were killed during the incident which includes 32 journalists.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Andanar cries ‘unfair’ over int’l media reports linking Duterte to ABS-CBN closure

Marje Pelayo   •   May 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar on Thursday (May 7) decried claims that President Rodrigo Duterte had a hand in the decision of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a cease and desist order (CDO) against media network ABS-CBN.

The PCOO Chief said the NTC’s decision to stop ABS-CBN’s radio and television broadcast was ‘independent and impartial.’

“We decry any claims and assertions associating President Duterte with the National Telecommunications Commission’s independent and impartial decision to impose a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Corporation,” he said in a statement.

Andanar said such action of the NTC is not an issue of press freedom. He emphasized that freedom of speech under the Duterte administration remains protected.

“This is not an issue of press freedom but an issue regarding legislative franchise. Democracy, and the free press and free speech that come with it, is very much alive in the country and effectively protected,” he said.

He stressed that tagging Duterte as the person behind the shutdown is “bereft of truth and just a rehash of an old malicious imputation to bedevil the President and his administration.”

“One should understand, first and foremost, the Philippines’ legislative processes and rule of law before connecting any precedents as being orchestrated by the President,” he said.

Andanar said the assertion that NTC’s decision was driven by Duterte’s previous rant against ABS-CBN is a “false narrative” and “remarkably erroneous, lacks objectivity and scant on factual basis.”

“It is, therefore, totally unfair and objectionable for some parties and some international media to insist that what happened to the network is due to ‘having incurred the ire’ of the President,” he explained.

Similar to the statement of Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Andanar reiterated that the President has already accepted ABS-CBN’s apology through the network’s CEO and President Carlo Katigbak in February and that the President holds no grudge against the network.

He noted that the NTC is just bound by law to decide and execute what the Constitution dictates and that the CDO is part of the NTC’s “independent, regulatory, and quasi-judicial undertaking.”

Duterte’s intervention to it, Andanar said, “would be in violation of the law or a Constitutional infringement.”

Andanar emphasized: “No one is above the law,” even ABS-CBN.

“ABS-CBN’s shutdown was brought about by the expiration of its 25-year legislative franchise last 4 May 2020,” he said. 

“It is within the purview of the Constitution that NTC, as a regulatory body, disallows the continued operation of any broadcast network with an expired franchise,” he added. 

READ: ABS-CBN may ask SC for TRO against shutdown order — NTC

The PCOO chief emphasized that at this point, the fate of ABS-CBN’s franchise is “within the purview and wisdom of Congress.” 

“The mandate of a broadcast franchise issuance and renewal is within the authority of the Congress, and not solely of the President, who only signs the law to be executory,” Secretary Andanar concluded. 

Malacañang asks public to remain calm as PH confirms first nCoV case

Robie de Guzman   •   January 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In light of the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country, a Malacañang official on Thursday urged the public not to panic and to keep calm as necessary precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the disease from spreading.

“We as the public not to panic and to remain calm as the government, especially the Department of Health (DOH), is on top of the situation,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

“We would like to assure them that the relevant health, research, and law enforcement agencies are working together to prevent the disease from spreading,” he added.

Andanar also assured that the DOH is in constant coordination and collaboration with health and research authorities in Australia, Japan, and China on implementing necessary undertakings on the matter.

“In fact, with the help of our counterparts in Japan, we are now capable of detecting and diagnosing 2019-nCoV-infected patients on our own,” he said.

He also said that government agencies have intensified their containment measures and that necessary precautionary measures are in place to address this health concern. 

“With the continuous inflow of travelers coming from affected areas in China, we will continue to conduct necessary stringent customs, immigration, and quarantine measures to prevent the disease from spreading within the country,” he said.

Andanar also assured that authorities will continue to coordinate with Chinese officials for the repatriation efforts for Filipinos in China.

A coronavirus hotline will also be created to assist the Filipinos there.

He also called on the public to observe all health and preventive advisories issued by the DO, as well as practice proper hygiene and cleanliness in order to prevent the likelihood of contracting the virus.

“Please remain vigilant and coordinate with your local barangay health centers should you observe symptoms associated with the 2019-nCoV,” he said.

The DOH earlier confirmed that a 38-year old Chinese woman is the country’s first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV.

She arrived in the Philippines from China on January 21, and sought treatment for her mild cough on January 25.

Ampatuans convicted in massacre case head to Court of Appeals

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Ampatuan clan who were found guilty of planning and executing the gruesome 2009 massacre in Maguindanao are heading to the Court of Appeals (CA) to contest their convictions.

In a notice served to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 on Thursday, Brothers Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan said they will take the case to the appellate court, and asked the lower court to forward all of the case records to the CA for review and proceedings.

Their relatives Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Sr. and his sons Datu Anwar Jr and Anwar Sajid have filed separate motions for reconsiderations before the Quezon City court, urging Judge Solis-Reyes to review the decision due to the alleged loopholes in the testimony of some witnesses.

On December 19, Judge Solis-Reyes handed down a guilty verdict to some members of the political Ampatuan clan for their involvement in the murder of 57 people, including members of the media.

Originally, there were 58 victims in the massacre but the 58th person, photographer Reynaldo Momay of the local paper Midland Review, was declared missing after his body was not found in the scene.

The ambush happened when 32 members of the media were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.

Six of the victims were not part of the Mangudadatu supporters and the media convoy.

The Ampatuan massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, in a separate motion, Zaldy Ampatuan asked the QC court to allow his transfer to the infirmary of the New Bilibid Prison “to receive therapy, rehabilitation and medication prescribed by his doctors, and so as not to unduly put his health in jeopardy.

His lawyers said the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government have suffered three strokes in two months, and has hypertension, diabetes and chronic atrial fibrillation.

Zaldy Ampatuan had been confined to a hospital in Makati from October to December. He was ordered by the court to return to his detention facility a day before the Ampatuan case promulgation.

Mangudadatu, on the other hand, said he is not surprised by the legal moves that the Ampatuans are employing following the promulgation.

“Expected namin yan pero kung magkaroon man ng final conviction kumbaga dapat sa panahon na yan may bitay na para hindi na tularan itong ganitong klaseng gawain,” he said.

He also expressed confidence that evidence against the Ampatuans are airtight and that the appellate court will not grant their appeals. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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