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DOJ to look into Malacañang’s new oust Duterte matrix

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo presenting the ouster matrix

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has vowed to look into the new matrix presented by Malacañang which showed that opposition members have been conspiring with other organizations to discredit the government of President Rodrigo Duterte and boost the candidacy of opposition bets in the May 13 elections.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters on Wednesday they will study the diagram and check if there is enough factual basis in Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s story on individuals supposedly involved in a plot to oust Duterte.

“I have not seen this new ouster matrix,” he said.

“In any event, the DOJ will study this further to determine if there is enough factual basis to refer this new matrix to the NBI for investigation,” he added.

Panelo on Wednesday presented a new matrix which tagged the Liberal Party, the “yellows,” Magdalo group, some media outfits and several other individuals to destabilize the government.

READ: Palace shows new diagram on Magdalo, Liberal party ‘conspiracy’ to oust Duterte

“The President himself has received information, intelligence information that has been validated and appears to show that there is a deliberate attempt to discredit this administration, as well as to boost the candidacies of the opposition’s senatorial candidates,” he said.

The presidential spokesman did not say where the intelligence information came from but only assured media it has been vetted.

Panelo also said at Wednesday’s briefing that it was up to the DOJ to decide on whether or not to press charges against those accused of plotting Duterte’s ouster.

Guevarra said they will determine the matter before referring this to a concerned agency for further investigation.

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Palace says PH can’t invoke US defense treaty in Recto Bank incident

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines cannot invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States (US) in the ramming incident involving Filipino and Chinese fishing vessels near Recto Bank (also called Reed Bank) in the West Philippine Sea, a Malacañang official said on Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles explained that the mechanism of the MDT cannot be triggered in this incident because it does not constitute an armed attack.

“MDT can only be used if there is military act, aggressive armed attack, on a public vessel, on troops, on an airship,” Nograles said.

Nograles made the statement in response to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s suggestion to invoke the treaty as a last resort should the tension escalate between the Philippines and China over the Recto Bank incident.

Lacson earlier said the country can present to the US evidence about the incident, and invoking the treaty would justify its presence in the disputed waters to prevent further hostilities.

However, Nograles said that is not how the MDT works.

“If it is not a military attack, then I don’t think that mechanism is available. We’re not even going to start about that,” he said.

The MDT, signed by the Philippines and U.S. in 1951, states that both countries would assist each other when either one is attacked by a foreign force.

The treaty’s Article IV states that an armed attack against any of the parties “declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, said that invoking the treaty with the US would be “jumping to conclusions” because the incident has yet to be considered an aggression.

“Hindi pa nga natin alam nga iyong ano, facts eh. Kung sinalakay tayo… hindi ba sabi ko, ‘Then that treaty will be in operation.’ But we don’t know the facts yet,” he said.

Duterte on Monday described the sinking as a maritime accident, which according to Panelo, was his way of trying to be cautious so as not to blow the issue into an international crisis.

Malacañang said that concerned investigating bodies are still conducting inquiry and fact-finding into the issue, headed by the Maritime Authority (Marina) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

READ: Marina, PCG to conduct further probe on West PH sea collision

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi would lead the government response primarily focused on assisting the 22 Filipino crewmen who were rescued from the sinking boat.

The Palace earlier said that the Philippine government would wait for the investigation to be concluded before taking any action. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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New PH law requires free internet, clean restrooms in terminals

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Transport terminals in the country are now required to have clean sanitary facilities and free internet services for passengers after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act 11311.

Duterte signed the law on April 17, a copy of which was released by Malacañang on Wednesday.

The law mandates the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other concerned stakeholders, to ensure that free internet services are provided in land transportation stations and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) terminals.

Terminal owners, operators or administrators are also ordered to have separate restrooms for persons with disabilities, male and female passengers, as well as lactation station for breastfeeding mothers.

The law also states that collecting fees from passengers for the use of regular sanitary facilities is unlawful. A passenger must also show the paid bus ticket for the day in order to avail of the free use of sanitary facilities.

The measure, however, does not cover well-appointed or deluxe sanitary facilities that are operated solely for commercial purposes and for the convenience of passengers who require and prefer such terminal facilities.

Terminal operators and administrators who fail to comply with the law shall be fined with P5,000 for each day of violation; another P5,000 each day for collecting fees from passengers for the use of sanitary facilities.

Another P5,000 fine each day will also be imposed if operators fail to provide and maintain a lactation station in transport terminals.

The fines will be subject for review every five years by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Any necessary adjustments on the amount will be subject to the approval of the DOTr Secretary.

The measure mandates the DOTr, in coordination with the DICT, LTFRB, Department of Health, the Philippine Ports Authority and other stakeholders, to release the implementing rules and regulations within 60 days that the law has become effective.

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Cayetano open to House speakership term-sharing

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – Taguig Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday expressed openness to the idea of sharing the term of the 18th Congress speakership with other contenders for the post.

In a chance interview prior to the economic and legislative agenda meeting of the Duterte administration in Clark, Pampanga, Cayetano said the idea of term sharing was mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte himself when he met with him, along with other speakership aspirants, in Japan weeks ago.

Cayetano said he is willing to share the speakership with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, but the latter did not favor the proposal.

“Nasabi ko sa ating pangulo na payag nako kahit na I was expecting three years na hati kmi ni Allan Velasco. Ang problema, ayaw pa niya pumayag doon,” he said.

Others gunning for the top House post are Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, Pampanga Representative Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales and Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

Cayetano said the House speakership race is fast becoming tight, with some resorting to offering money in exchange for votes.

“The reality is, may namimigay ng pera sa Congress at hindi lang pera, may kasamang papel na nagsasabing pirmahan niyo ito,” he said.

“Actually now, ang offer ay more than money, may kumausap sa akin na nag-ooffer ng P200-million pero Congressman na project sa party-list,” he added, although he refused to name names.

Cayetano also clarified that the relation between him and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio remains amicable despite his threat to break up the administration coalition if she would endorse Velasco’s bid to become speaker.

The presidential daughter earlier said she did not express her support for Cayetano’s bid but she would back any one who would support Duterte’s programs.

“There has been some communication pero pabayaan mo muna na ma-sort out naming. Maaari ngang iba ang pagkarinig, iba ang pagkasabi… If she feels that way, I am hurt and sorry if she feels that way but hindi ganun talaga,” he said.

Cayetano and other lawmakers and Cabinet officials met in Clark, Pampanga to discuss the administration’s economic and legislative agenda for the last three years in office of President Duterte. (with details from Grace Casin)

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