Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020   •   556

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Roque to ask Duterte on possibility of voluntarily disclosing SALN

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.

Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.

“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.

The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.

Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.

“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.

The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)



Proposed order for price cap on COVID-19 tests awaiting Duterte decision – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A proposed executive order that will impose a price cap on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests is now awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) Technical Working Group (TWG) submitted the proposal after completing its review on the recommended price cap.

Roque refused to divulge the recommended price ceiling on coronavirus testing in private hospitals and laboratories but he expressed optimism that the president will approve the proposal.

“Hintayin po muna natin ang desisyon ng president. Why is that? Kasi yung iba naman, napakataas ng sinisingil, alam naman natin, pwedeng mas mura yang testing na yan,” he said in a televised briefing.

Roque said the proposal seeks to make COVID-19 testing affordable and could help boost the government’s contact tracing and mass testing efforts.

“Para mas maging affordable ang testing sa ating mga kababayan ng sa gayong paraan ay mas maraming matetesting,” he said.

The DOH earlier recommended the placing of a price ceiling after observing differences in the COVID-19 testing cost in various laboratories and hospitals in the country. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Guevarra on order to probe corruption in entire gov’t: ‘Toughest task from Duterte’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that the order for him to conduct a government-wide probe of corruption is his “toughest” assignment ever received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a taped speech aired on Tuesday morning, Duterte directed the DOJ to expand the role of its task force, which probed the alleged anomalies in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), to cover the entire government.

He also authorized the DOJ to decide on which allegation to investigate taking into consideration the gravity thereof and their impact on the delivery of government service.

The chief executive also granted DOJ the power to create as many panels as necessary and direct other government agencies to be part of such committees.

Duterte said his directive will remain in effect until the end of his term on June 30, 2022 unless sooner lifted or revoked.

“Apart from my usual responsibilities as SOJ, this new assignment is the toughest I have ever received from the President,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“I will need all the support and cooperation of the entire government machinery to achieve this singular objective of substantially reducing corruption in government,” he added.

Considering the scope of the task, Guevarra said he will first determine the overall strategy and the order of priorities as well as the setting up of the expanded anti-corruption task force.

“Tentatively, I am thinking of creating several strike forces that will simultaneously attack various corruption-prone agencies,” he said.

Guevarra also said that he intends to immediately focus on the organizational set-up and mechanism that will carry out the president’s directive.

The Justice Secretary added that it would also help if government workers and other people would come forward to provide the task force with the necessary information to uncover corrupt activities and identify perpetrators.

“The new and expanded anti-corruption task force will take it from there,” he said.

The DOJ already leads an inter-agency task force, formed in August, that probed alleged corruption in the PhilHealth which resulted in the filing of complaints against several officials, including former PhilHealth president Ricardo Morales. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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