China rejects third-party probe on Recto Bank incident – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 1, 2019   •   1807

MANILA, Philippines – China has rejected the proposed involvement of a third party in the investigation into the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank), Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Beijing does not see any need for a third-party investigation as the issue can be resolved through the joint probe.

“Nag-offer sila ng joint investigation, tapos inaccept ni presidente, tapos may third party, ang sabi naman nila, wag nang third party, kailangan tayo na lang mag-usap duon,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he is okay with having a third-party probe even after as he accepted Beijing’s offer for a joint investigation into the maritime incident.

On June 9, a Chinese boat rammed into a Filipino fishing vessel and abandoned its 22 crew members at sea.

The president described the incident as a little maritime accident, saying the Filipino boat was sideswiped and not rammed.

Although a preliminary report was already handled by the agencies tasked to investigate the matter, Duterte said he has yet to reveal its contents as he is still awaiting China’s official report on the incident.

READ: Duterte says Filipino fishing boat was sideswiped, not rammed in Recto Bank

Panelo said China also suggested the creation of respective task groups which would meet and exchange results of separate investigations conducted.           

“Dapat immediately, since they are suggesting the creation of task force, dapat mag-create na tayo ng task force,” he said.

“In fact, I intend to tell the president pagdating mamaya sa cabinet meeting,” he added.

The Palace official, however, stressed the Philippine could always push for a third-party probe should the two countries fail to agree on the findings.

He also believes there will be no serious disagreements between the two parties.

“Kasi sinabi na nila na kailangang maresolve na natin ito. Nasisira ang relasyon natin dahil dito, kailangang ayusin na natin ito. Yung sinasabi mong mag-iinsist, di tayo magi-insist. Isa-suggest natin, kung halimbawang di tayo magkasundo, pwede ba humanap tayo ng 3rd party,” he said.

Panelo also allayed fears on China’s possible manipulation of probe results, vowing to hold accountable the Chinese crew should they be found guilty of abandonment charges. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO/FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on Filipinos to reflect on the history and be everyday heroes as the country marks the National Heroes’ Day.

In his message, Duterte urged Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

“The collective sacrifice of the country’s heroes “made it possible for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty and to continue strengthening this great nation that they have left behind,” he said.

“We recognize their heroism not only by erecting statues in their honor but by uplifting the welfare of the poor and marginalized for it is through our small deeds that their spirit of valor can live on,” he added.

The President also called on Filipinos to make our forebears proud of the triumphs as a people “by being everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.”

“I truly believe that every Filipino is a hero who can build on our vibrant legacy of fortitude and resilience,” he said.

“As we face the future together, I encourage everyone to embody solidarity and sustain our momentum towards positive change not only for ourselves, but for the succeeding generations as well,” he added.

The chief executive skipped the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday as he is “not feeling well,” according to Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

He, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the president in leading the National Heroes’ Day rites, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

‘Indisposed’ Duterte skips National Heroes’ Day celebration

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

(R-L) President Rodrigo Duterte, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

According to Duterte’s former long-time aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the president was feeling out of sorts after studying and signing many documents and meeting with different personalities, including Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari over the weekend.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte did notattend the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday.

“He’s indisposed, 74 years old na po si Pangulo, kailangan niya ring magpahinga… Magkasama pa kaming kaninang madaling araw, mga four ng umaga,” Go told reporters.

(He’s indisposed. The President is already 74 years old, he needs rest. We were together until early this morning, around 4 a.m.)

Go, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

Malacañang earlier said House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the chief executive at the National Heroes’ Day rites.

The Palace also said that by Monday afternoon, the president is set to visit the family of a soldier killed in a clash in Calbayog City, Samar.

Duterte earlier called on Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

READ: Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

He also urged the public to be “everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.” (RRD with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace says Sanchez not eligible for release under good conduct law

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez | Courtesy: PTV

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is not eligible for early release from prison under the new law increasing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Sanchez, who was convicted of a heinous crime, is not entitled to benefit from the Republic Act 10592 which shortens a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior.

“Mr. Sanchez, under republic act number 10592 is not eligible so the President as the chief enforcer of the law have to follow the law,” Panelo said.

In an earlier statement, Malacañang supported Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in stressing that the law excludes “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes” from the benefit of its coverage.

Sanchez has been in jail for over 25 years since he was convicted for the rape and murder of student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend, Allan Gomez in 1995.

Panelo was the defense lawyer of Sanchez when he was sentenced to seven terms of reclusion perpetua.

The former mayor was reported earlier to be among the 11,000 persons deprived of who might soon be freed due to a 2013 law that increased the GCTA given to inmates and a Supreme court ruling last June applying this law retroactively.

The news has sparked outrage among the public.

Sanchez’s eligibility under the new GCTA rule was also questioned by lawmakers and other sectors due to allegations of possession of illegal drugs after a prison guard found a packet of shabu and marijuana in his jail cell. An air condition unit and a television set were also seized from his cell, which are violation of prison rules.

The report on Sanchez’s possible release also “enraged” President Rodrigo Duterte, according to his former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

“Nung nag-usap kami ng Pangulo talagang nagalit din siya, at sinabi niya di rin siya sang-ayon at may mga sinite din siya na batas na minimum, in short ayaw din nya, galit po sya,” Go said in a radio interview when asked about the president’s reaction.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said Sanchez may be disqualified from availing the provisions of the good conduct time allowance law for his alleged violations of prison rules.

The BuCor also assured to carefully and cautiously review the GCTA of persons who were convicted of high-profile, heinous crimes or grave crimes that show extreme moral depravity. (RRD with details from correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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