DND mulling over lifting of martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2019   •   1518

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said that evaluations and consultations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are ongoing regarding the lifting of martial law in Mindanao as soon as possible.

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong made the statement after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte expressed her desire to lift the martial law in her area of jurisdiction and other places that are relatively peaceful.

“The lifting of martial law in Mindanao is constantly being evaluated by the Defense Department and there are regular consultations with the AFP and PNP regarding this. In fact, we would like to lift martial law in Mindanao as soon as possible but this should only be done after a complete assessment and validation by the security sector and local governments before we recommend it to the President,” he said in a message sent to reporters.

Andolong said the DND takes cognizance of Mayor Duterte’s proposal to only impose martial law in areas where peace and order remain unstable.

“We value the wisdom and firsthand knowledge of our local executives of the prevailing security environment in their respective communities and we always take their observations and recommendations into consideration,” he added.

Andolong noted that in February this year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the Supreme Court that the lifting of the military rule would be recommended by July 1 if amendments to the existing Human Security Act were passed in the Legislature.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” he said.

In a joint session held last December 2018, Congress approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2019.

The military recommended another year-long extension of the martial rule in a bid to totally neutralize terror groups operating in the region.

Martial law was first declared in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 when Islamic State-linked Maute group attacked Marawi City. (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Duterte issues EO imposing medicine price cap

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 18, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order that will impose price cap on medicines.

Based on Executive Order (EO) 104 or Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP) price regulations will be imposed through a maximum retail price (MRP) and maximum wholesale price (MWP) system.

“Access to affordable and quality drugs and medicines is now a reality under the Duterte administration. This is part of the real and lasting reform, which President Duterte has instituted in order that all Filipinos can live decent and comfortable lives,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The EO is expected to lower the cost of medicines as much as 56 percent by May. In the first phase of MDRP, 87 medicines for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung diseases, major cancers, and other diseases have been included.

The Department of Health (DOH) has proposed 122 medicines and is reviewing to include more.

“DOH, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and stakeholders, was also tasked to review the price reduction of the remaining 35 drugs to finalize the list covered by the EO,” according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The DOH is set to release the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said EO.

Duque also warned pharmaceutical companies or drug stores not abiding by the EO may face up to 15 years of imprisonment.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Duterte inaugurates Sangley Airport in Cavite

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated the Sangley Airport in Cavite on Saturday (February 15) which aims to ease the air traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The Sangley Airport Development Project is under the Duterte Administration’s Build Build Build Program. Small commercial flights and light cargo aircraft are already operational since Saturday.

In his speech, President Duterte commended Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade for successfully completing the development project.

The President also said he will use Sangley Airport when he goes back to Davao after finishing his term.

“I will take my last flight as President to Davao. I will use this airport,” he said.

Once the project is completed, Sangley Airport will have four operational runways and a terminal which can accommodate 100 million passengers every year.—AAC (with reports from Benedict Samson)

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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