Duterte can scrap PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement without Senate approval – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020   •   498

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte can terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States (US) even without the concurrence of the Senate, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after the president threatened to scrap the VFA if the US government does not reverse the cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa.

“Because it (VFA) is an executive agreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo said.

Dela Rosa on Wednesday confirmed to media that he is not allowed to travel to the US for now after he received notification about his visa cancellation.

The senator said the exact reason on why his US visa was cancelled remains unclear but he heard reports it might be linked to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs that he spearheaded when he was the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from 2016 to 2018.

The VFA, signed by Manila and Washington in 1998, is a bilateral deal which outlines the guidelines for the conduct of government troops when they are visiting the US or the Philippines.

Panelo said the US government should not intervene with the Philippines’ internal issues.

The Palace official also believes the president’s threat to cancel the VFA will not affect Filipino workers in the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

ABS-CBN ‘grateful, humbled’ by Duterte’s acceptance of apology

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast network ABS-CBN Corporation on Thursday said it was “grateful and humbled” by President Rodrigo Duterte’s acceptance of its apology.

On Wednesday, Duterte accepted the apology of the network’s president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, and assured he will not interfere in the company’s application for franchise renewal to Congress.

“We are grateful and humbled by President Rodrigo Duterte’s acceptance of our apology,” the ABS-CBN said in a statement.

“ABS-CBN remains committed to becoming a better organization and to continue to provide more meaningful service to Filipinos,” it added.

Katigbak, during a Senate hearing on Monday, apologized to the president over the network’s failure to air his P2.6 million worth of political advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections, as well as the airing of former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s political ad against Duterte.

Duterte also said that instead of giving him refund, the ABS-CBN should just donate the amount of his unaired campaign advertisements to charity.

“We will coordinate with the President’s office as it relates to his guidance on donating the refund to a charitable institution,” the network said in response.

Duterte earlier said he will “leave to Congress” the issue on the network’s franchise renewal, and that he has not decided yet whether to sign into law the bill granting ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year license to operate.

Duterte eyes enhanced PH-ADB partnership for infra program

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with Asian Development Bank President Masatsugu Asakawa who paid a courtesy call on the President at the Department of Finance Building inside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex in Manila on February 24, 2020. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte met with the new head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for an enhanced collaboration in various areas in relation with the government’s development agenda, Malacañang said.

In a press statement, the Palace said that ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa on Monday paid a courtesy call on Duterte at the office of the Department of Finance (DOF) in Manila to tackle ways on improving the country’s relationship with the bank.

During the call, the President congratulated Asakawa for his election as new ADB president, and expressed his gratitude for the bank’s continued assistance in different government programs.

Asakawa became ADB’s 10th president in January.

“I would like to express my appreciation to ADB for its unremitting assistance to the Philippines,” Duterte told the ADB president.

The Palace said that during the meeting, the chief executive also called for the ADB’s “aggressive participation” in the Philippine government’s infrastructure program, and asked for its help to improve the government’s capacity to undertake public-private partnership (PPP) projects with increased private sector participation.

“We look forward to ADB’s enhanced support to our Build, Build, Build Program,” Duterte said.

Last December 2019, the DOF signed with the ADB three loan agreements amounting to $623 million in support of the government’s infrastructure push.

Duterte names Eric Distor as NBI officer-in-charge

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2020

The new officer-in-charge of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Eric Distor.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated a new officer-in-charge for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Malacañang said Wednesday.

Eric Distor, assistant director for Intelligence Service, was named NBI’s officer-in-charge following the retirement of director Dante Gierran, according to a memorandum released by the Palace on Wednesday.

The letter addressed to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was dated February 21 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

It states that Distor’s new work assignment took effect on February 23.

The Palace said he will temporarily lead the agency until a replacement is appointed or until otherwise directed by the Office.

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